NBL 2014/15 Round 5 Preview: Kings welcome back Childress in must win game in the 'Gong'
Wollongong Hawks vs. Sydney Kings
Friday 7th November, 7pm (local time)
WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
Odds: Hawks - $1.67, Kings - $2.10
After a slow, disappointing, drama-filled start to the 2014/15 season, the Sydney Kings head to Wollongong to prove to the rest of the league that they are capable of playing competitive basketball.
The Hawks are currently in a one-horse race for the wooden spoon and are in dire need of a victory to boost both their spirits and give themselves a slim chance of keeping in the playoff picture.
Last week, the Kings had a 20+ point turn-around, as they were leading the table-topping Taipans by double digits, before disintegrating in the fourth, scoring eight points and losing by 12. This week they welcome back the suspended Josh Childress who will no doubt be looking for redemption.
Wollongong suffered defeats to both Perth and Melbourne in round 4, showing a lackluster effort on the defensive end and poor execution with ball in hand. Jahii Carson has become a one-man wrecking ball and teams are able to gameplan ways to stop him. They must find a reliable interior option (you reading Luke Nevill?) to test Sydney.
These two teams met in round one in Sydney, with the Kings going home three point winners. The Hawks had a healthy Gary Ervin, who missed last weeks game against Melbourne, but practiced Thursday and is all-set to go Friday night. The loser will have no excuses.
Player To Watch
Childress may be the most profiled international to play in the NBL and is coming off an ugly incident that clouded both his character and reputation. His return from suspension is going to be a hot topic this week as the Kings need his production to keep competitive and he needs to mend some fences from the fallout.
"Chill" who ironically lost his cool, has been a force at times this year; averaging 16.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.7spg and 2bpg. His ability to dominate both sides of the court is going to be a deciding factor against a scrappy Hawks team with nothing to lose.
The King's other import, Kendrick Perry, has struggled this season and the scoring of Ben Madgen and Tom Garlepp, has not been potent enough to close out games. Look for Childress to take the reigns Friday night in both reality and fantasy land (get him in your lineups), in what is shaping up to be a statement game for him and the Kings.
What To watch For
The Hawks have been lacking intensity in recent weeks and its not just the experts that have noticed; fan attendance has dwindled from opening night from 3800 to 2376. Ervin is urging fans not to panic, yet their season is clearly on the line this weekend.
With their season to play for, it is an all or nothing game for the Hawks who will need to rectify their defensive woes and find another spark on offense, if they are to overcome Childress and the Kings. Big men Larry Davidson and Luke Nevill have been poor this season and must be that extra dimension to the Hawks offense to match Ervin and Carson's penetration.
The Kings will be bringing fireworks of their own and will look to take advantage of the Hawks lack of interior production and also help put Childress in one-on-one situations where he is practically un-guardable.
The bookies have the Hawks as the favorites, which I cannot fathom considering the circumstances. All signs point to the Kings taking this one in a tight, scrappy affair with Childress dominating a side lacking confidence and support. Hawks fans - keep the faith, but the streak is not going to end tonight.
Kings by 9