Could some Victorian bragging inspire the Sydney Kings to find a way to end their 10-game losing streak to Melbourne United?
The Kings and Melbourne face off for the fourth and final time in the NBL regular season at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday night and is the most important game either side has faced this campaign.
Bucket list: Kings superstar Andrew Bogut is yet to taste victory against Melbourne.Credit:AAP
The winner will be in prime position to finish in the top two, especially the Kings who have played one game more than United.
Andrew Bogut’s Kings secured their long awaited return to the finals with a win over Brisbane Bullets last round but now they need to finish the season well or could drop to third and give home-court advantage to Melbourne and Perth Wildcats for the semi-finals.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman, a former Kings assistant coach, couldn't resist a sly jab on Thursday when asked about the match-up.
"We have one 10 in a row or something like that so we go in confident but we know those streaks don’t last forever," Vickerman said. "There is a lot of guys on this club who enjoy not having lost to the Kings so they will get up for this one."
Confident: United coach Dean Vickerman rallies his troops.Credit:AAP
The Kings have come a long way this season from strugglers to legitimate title contenders but United have claimed single-figure wins each time the teams have faced each other.
The last two times saw Mitch McCarron's tip-in and Chris Goulding's clutch basket secure wins for Melbourne.
Since those games the Kings have found a much greater sense of themselves and tougher defensive edge as Bogut, Kevin Lisch and Jerome Randle steer the team and the likes of David Wear, Brad Newley and Daniel Kickert play their roles.
Kings coach Andrew Gaze knows his side has the ability to beat Melbourne, it will come down to whether they have the poise to do the job.
"We felt defensively in all the games we have played that we have held them to reasonable numbers, unfortunately for us they have held us to even more reasonable numbers," Gaze said. "So we want to bring that same level of defensive intensity, have a similar result but have greater productivity on the offensive end."
Melbourne has spent much of the week in recovery mode after a return trip to Auckland last round and two wins over the New Zealand Breakers.
Vickerman knows his opponents have made big strides in recent weeks but the reigning champions have found some rich form winning four-straight games.
"Lisch is one of the best defenders in the league and Bogut would have to be close to being defensive player of the year," Vickerman said. "With those two anchoring their defence they became tough to score on so you need others to step up.
"You need other ways to score and we have been finding ways to do that lately."
The Kings are expecting around 8000-9000 supporters due to Fridays being unappealing to fairweather fans, but perhaps a potential end to the 10-game streak will fire up the home base.
Sydney Kings host Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday at 7.50pm AEDT.
Source: Read Full Article