Sydney Kings vs. New Zealand Breakers
MATCH UP STATS
Sydney Kings vs. New Zealand Breakers
Season record:Sydney Kings: 10-10New Zealand Breakers: 8-9
Last 5 matches:Sydney Kings: LLLLWNew Zealand Breakers: WLWLL
Line betting:Sydney Kings: -4.5 ($1.90 @ Sportsbet)New Zealand Breakers: +4.5 ($1.90 @ Sportsbet)
Friday, December 30, 2016, 7.30pm AEDT, Qudos Bank Arena, watch on Fox Sports.
CAN they arrest the slide?
It is hard to believe that only a month ago, the Sydney Kings looked invincible at the top of the NBL table.
But this league isn’t won until it’s won and the Kings are learning the hard way you simply cannot afford to be complacent.
An 87-75 loss to the Illawarra Hawks on their home floor last Friday night became the Kings’ fourth loss on the bounce and things are beginning to spiral out of control.
Apart from two time NBA champion Josh Powell – who came up with 21 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a tick under 26 minutes off the bench, no one could get it going for the Kings.
Missing chief weapon Brad Newley, the Kings starting five sputtered, with Jason Cadee the best, dropping 15 points.
Scoring machine Kevin Lisch was well down on his best, finishing with just 11 points and big man Greg Whittington shot just one for 11 from the field.
Remarkably, the Kings were up by five heading into the final term, but were over ran in the last, with veteran Oscar Forman doing what he has done for a long time, filling it up with 24 points.
The loss to the Hawks was, remarkably, the Kings’ seventh in their past 10 games.
They are now in real danger of being tipped out of the playoff picture, but still hold on to third spot with a .500 record, 10-10.
Coach Andrew Gaze squared blame on the teams’ rotations, concerned that some had played too many minutes and were being worn down.
“I’m playing some of these guys a lot of minutes and perhaps down the stretch in games it’s taking it’s toll,” Gaze said.
“I need to look at that and see if that’s something we need to reassess.
“We need to figure out our rotations because it’s clearly not working at the moment.”
Olympian Newley, who was forced out with an injured toe, is no certainty to be fit for the clash with the Breakers.
“I don’t exactly know what the diagnosis is but it’s very swollen and quite painful,” Gaze said.
“We need him. He’s a big part of what we’re doing and he’s having a great season.”
Every match up at home appears to be a danger game for the Kings, but this one is doubly so.
In a quirk of the NBL’s fixturing, Sydney has played three games – all of them losses – since the Breakers last stepped out on the floor on December 15.
That is a huge rest to recharge and regroup for the Breakers, who are now yapping at the Kings’ heels, just below .500.
Were they to win, they would leap frog the Kings from fifth into third and, depending on what happens with the Bullets, Sydney could fall even further.
The Breakers had lost four in a row, before winning two of their past three and are coming off victory against the Perth Wildcats, 69-57.
In that match, Alex Pledger and Kirk Penney did the bulk of the damage with 16 points each.
But veteran star Tom Abercrombie – who dropped a 15 point, 11 rebound double double against the Wildcats, has joined gun Tall Black Corey Webster on the sidelines.
Abercrombie has been ruled out for four to six weeks with a right hand fracture suffered in practice.
“I feel for Tommy, he has been one of our most consistent players throughout the season and was nearing his best form again in recent games,” Breakers coach Paul Henare said.
“He is one of our leaders on and off court and is understandably extremely disappointed to have this happen.”
The Breakers are on the hunt for a player to fill Webster’s position after he was shut down for the season, with niggling injuries cited, but it appears unlikely they will have any one in their colours by the time the clash with the Kings rolls around.
Match result: Sydney Kings to win ($1.48 Sportsbet.com.au)
Line betting tip: Sydney Kings -4.5 ($1.90 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Surely the Kings win this one? They have obviously been hurt by the injury to Newley, news that big man Julian Khazzouh won’t take the court this season and the departure of NBA import Steve Blake, but surely they have enough depth to cope with a New Zealand Breakers side that is travelling across the ditch and will start some bloke named Finn Delaney (no offence kid). With Abercrombie and Webster gone, import Ben Woodside’s ankle ruined and John Stockton’s kid David proving that he is anything but his old man, the Breakers don’t appear to have a hope here. On paper, things look disastrous. But, then again, people have been tipping the Kings every week and it isn’t exactly like they have been owning their own home floor in the past month. They haven’t actually won there since November 19. The crowd it becoming restless, but this is surely the night they get the job done. Sydney Kings to win this one by seven points with Lisch to return to his dominant self and Powell to inflict some hurt on the inside.
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