NBL 2014/15 Round 9 Preview: Kings look for instant revenge against Breakers
Sydney Kings vs. New Zealand
Saturday 6th December, 2014- 7.30pm (local time)
Qantas Credit Union Arena
Tickets: click here
Odds: Sydney $2.08, New Zealand $1.75
The Breakers extended their win streak to five last weekend, defeating Sydney 107-96 in a shootout. They overcame an 11 point first quarter deficit with an impressive 54-41 second half as seven players scored 11+. As a team, they hit 15-29 from the three point line to complete their comeback but they cannot expect to shoot 52% again this round. To defeat the Kings for a second consecutive week, New Zealand need to shut down Josh Childress as he is the key to Sydney’s entire game. Last round, Childress attacked the rim and helped the visitors to a 46-30 advantage in the paint. Alex Pledger and Ekene Ibekwe both sit in the top five for blocks in the league but they failed to impose themselves as Childress got the better of them. New Zealand’s offence carried them over the line last weekend but if their shot isn’t falling on the road, their defence will need to improve to keep the win streak alive.
Sydney responded to their Friday night loss to the Breakers with a 90-83 hard fought win over Adelaide on Sunday. They trailed by 14 points at half-time but completed the greatest second half comeback since the league switched to 40 minute games with Childress and Kendrick Perry starring. Perry has had an inconsistent season but his 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists made for his most complete performance and hopefully is the start of something better for the point guard. The victory moved the Kings back to .500 on the season as well as keeping them just a win outside the top four.
New Zealand own one of the deepest benches in the league and their second unit put Sydney to the sword last weekend, out-scoring the visitor’s bench 43-21. Rhys Carter was a major part of that dominance, hitting 4-5 from the three point line for an equal season high 14 points. The veteran is nearing 250 games but has improved on all his career numbers, increasing his field goal shooting by 6%, his three point shooting by a massive 14% as well as upping his point average from 6.3 to 8.6 while playing significantly more minutes. Sydney are now fully aware of his long range shooting but if Perry or Jason Cadee overcompensate and close out on him too quickly, the point guard is more than capable of exploiting them under the rim as well.
What to Watch For
Despite their 46-30 advantage in the paint when these sides last met, Sydney were severely out-rebounded, losing the count by 12. More distressing, the offensive board count was 12-2 in New Zealand’s favour, allowing the home side 12 second chance points. Although Childress leads the league in rebounding at 10.2 per game, Sydney’s next best cleaner of the glass is Perry at 4.0. Comparably, the Breakers best rebounder is Mika Vukona (6.6) but five of their players average more boards than Perry. The Kings are not going to win on Saturday night if they allow another 100+ score from New Zealand and the first step to restricting them is a gang rebounding mentality.
Dean Vickerman has been deservedly awarded Coach of the Month for November as he has taken his Breakers side to the top of the ladder. His main objective for Saturday will be keeping Player of the Month, Josh Childress, quiet as he was the only Sydney player to keep them in their contest last weekend. On their home floor, the Kings will give themselves a chance and New Zealand are unlikely to light them up from distance as badly as last week. However, their Round 8 heroics provided the perfect blueprint to keep their streak rolling and the ladder leaders should be too good.
New Zealand by 6