NBL Melbourne United vs. Sydney Kings
MATCH UP STATS
NBL Melbourne United vs. Sydney Kings
Season recordMelbourne United: 4-7Sydney Kings: 8-4
Last 5 results:Melbourne United: WLLLLSydney Kings: WLWLW
Line betting:Melbourne United: +1.5 ($1.87 Sportsbet)Sydney Kings: -1.5 ($1.87 Sportsbet)
Saturday, November 26, 2016, 7.30pm, Hisense Arena, watch on FoxSports
ALL of a sudden, we have a game on our hands.
A fortnight ago, Melbourne United was in turmoil. On the bottom of the ladder, it sacked import point guard Cedric Jackson and its starting wing men Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield had been out for an extended period with injury.
But things can change quickly in the NBL and, with Goulding back in the fold and new NBA talent point guard in Casper Ware, United has done its best to turn things around.
With those two men in fine form in their first outing together, United managed to kick a five game losing streak with a win over the Cairns Taipans.
The top of the table Sydney Kings are a different story, but there is new found hope in Melbourne.
There was the odd teething problem, but United finally got the job done against the Taipans on the weekend, rolling to a five point win, 84-79.
After missing a month with a shocking ankle injury, Chris Goulding came back in the biggest way possible, draining 30 points and equalling a club record with eight three pointers, while adding five rebounds, two assists and steal.
Goulding provided the firepower, but it was new import Casper Ware who was the glue in his debut game for United.
While he struggled with his shot, connecting on just three of his 14 attempts for 12 points, Ware was the floor general United hoped Jackson would be, handing out six assists against just the two turnovers while having the ball in his hands for most of the night.
Sixth man Tai Wesley had another great performance off the bench with 16 points and seven rebounds, while another import in Devin Williams provided a ton of spark, also off the bench, with seven points and seven boards in just 12 minutes of play.
It was a welcome effort from United and would have pleased a fan base that has been crying out for this type of performance.
Goulding says his ankle got through the game without complaint and he was excited at the prospect of his back court partnership with Ware.
“It held up pretty well, structurally it has been pretty good for all of this week, it was just a pain thing,” said Goulding.
“That was really good, good to be back out there in my happy place and good to get a win.
“I think I trained two sessions this week with Casper so hopefully, it’s a sign of good things to come.”
Meanwhile, the Kings are not unbeatable, by any stretch of the imagination, especially on the road, as the Perth Wildcats showed on the weekend.
In fact, apart from throttling an undermanned United, 87-71, the Kings have lost their past three road games and were broken down by the Wildcats in a 93-80 defeat.
On first look at the stat sheet, the loss is a surprise, given high powered duo Brad Newley (34) and Kevin Lisch (21) combined for 55 points.
But a closet inspection reveals no other King reached double figures and they shot 42 per cent from the field, while allowing the Wildcats to go at 54 per cent and getting smashed on the boards, 37-28. It’s hard to win games with that kind of disparity.
The kings did bounce back with a revenge home win over the Wildcats two days later, 83-72, with a much more even spread of scorers doing the damage – led, of course, but Lisch and Newley again, with 18 points each.
“Perth are a high quality team and we were disappointed with what we dished up in Perth in the first game,” Kings coach Andrew Gaze said.
“Fortunately from the opening tip, my guys came out and showed we were going to be physical, we were going to defend and we were going to keep it out of the paint.
“We played at a level we needed to play at.
“I was a little disappointed we didn’t hold onto that large margin dropped a little but it was just a really big win for us.”
Match results: Melbourne United to win ($2 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Line betting: Melbourne United +1.5 ($1.87 with Sportsbet.com.au)
If last week against was not the turning point in Melbourne United’s season, then this one surely is. While the NBL is a fickle beast, this game really looms as a make or break. Knock off the top of the table team, do it at home and show the rest of the league what you are made of. We reckon this is the sternest test they will face this season and, with a healthy Goulding firing and Ware running the show, they should be able to match it with the ridiculous potency of Lisch, Newley and co. A fortnight ago, we would have tipped the Kings, and by lots, but this is a new Melbourne and it is time for them to stand up at even money.
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