NBL 2014/15 Round 8 Preview: Kings look to penetrate Breakers fortress in Friday night clash
|Nov 28, 2014|
New Zealand Breakers vs. Sydney Kings
Friday 28th November, 7:30 local time
Vector Arena, Auckland
Odds: Sydney Kings - $4.00, NZ Breakers - $1.22
Friday night sees one of the juiciest match-ups of the round with the table topping Breakers (8-3) take on the ever-improving Sydney Kings (4-4). The Breakers have shown that they are legitimate title contenders this season, racking up convincing wins both on the road and at home. The Kings will venture into Vector Arena, a place the Breakers haven't lost this season, trying to get a much needed road win and move into the upper echelon of the NBL rankings.
In round seven, the Kings took on the heavily favored Cairns Taipans and came away with a convincing victory. The moral of that story being that with Josh Childress on your team, you can beat anybody. The Breakers played host to Melbourne United, who had previously tested them at home, however they were too strong and showed a great deal of depth, despite not having starting froward Tom Abercrombie.
The Breakers go into Friday night's game again without Abercrombie, who is dealing with a quad injury. His replacement - Ruben Te Rangi, will have his hands full trying to guard the most dominant player in the league.
Ruben Te Rangi
The 20 year old will be making his third start of the season this week, thrust into the role of guarding the best player he has faced in his short career. Te Rangi is averaging less than 17 minutes per game this year and has struggled to integrate himself to the Breakers offense. His 2.2 points per game average is not going to blow anybody away, yet despite his shortcomings offensively, he has proven himself to be a solid defender.
Standing at only 6 foot 4, Te Rangi is giving up four inches and a breadth of experience to Childress. He is going to have to use his superior quickness and athleticism to beat him to spots and frustrate him away from the basket. The task of stopping J-Smooth is a daunting one, but not impossible; he is shooting a meager 30% from down town. Expect Te Rangi and the Breakers to sag off of him and force him to beat them from deep.
The ability to limit Childress is going to be the key to the outcome of the game. If Te Rangi is not up for the job, the Kings could steal one away from home.
What To Watch For
Role players or naysayers
The Kings have rode their horse (Childress) in each of their four victories and they will need to continue to do so this week, however they must also get some solid contributions from their role players. Ben Madgen has struggled of late, shooting well under 50% from the field and will need to be much better offensively, whilst also trying to limit Corey Webster. Kendrick Perry is another King who will need to be on point; his task of trying to slow down Cedric Jackson's transitional play will be vital in keeping the Breakers under 80 points (where they have lost two of their three games).
The Breakers are in a groove at the moment and are finding their feet on both ends of the court. They will have to limit the damage that Childress will inevitably inflict and force somebody else to beat them. With defensive specialists across the roster in Mika Vukona, Ekene Ibekwe and Te Rangi, they will back themselves to get the job done without using many double teams.
In the first match-up between these two franchises this year, expect a fast and physical game, where both clubs get a feel for each other. Star players will shine, but role players, especially for the underdogs, will be as equally important.
Last week I picked Melbourne to upset the Breakers - a mistake I made underestimating their defense. This week the Kings are going to have to jump out of the gate early and pound the rock inside. The Breakers have been starting well but often struggle to maintain their pace, faltering in the third - Sydney must take advantage of their lapses and ride the momentum when it comes.
With a lack of consistent options, a Kings victory is unlikely. The kiwis are just too polished at this stage of the season.
Breakers by 10