R14 Preview: Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans

When: 8.00pm (AEST), Saturday 17 April 

Where: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney

Broadcast: ESPN; Sky Sports NZ; SBS On Demand; Twitch

The last time
Sydney 75 (Ware 16, Martin 16, Kickert 11, Vasiljevic 11) d Cairns 73 (Machado 21, Krslovic 13, Jawai 12) – Round 10, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney

Scott Machado inspired a spirited second half fightback for the Cairns Taipans but the Sydney Kings provided more help for Casper Ware and that was pivotal in their eventual 75-73 win on Sunday.

The Taipans did start well to be up 21-13 early but by early in the third quarter the Kings had assumed control to lead by 11 and it was going to take something remarkable to bring the Snakes back into it. And it was Machado that saw that happen. After just four points in the first half while Cam Oliver was scoreless, the Taipans import pair took their team on a 15-0 run to turn that 11-point deficit into a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

It didn’t quite last. Some big Daniel Kickert minutes and three important baskets kept Sydney close but still the Taipans were two points up with three minutes to go. But Sydney held them to one-point the rest of the way and it was a Shaun Bruce three ball with 1:25 to go that proved the sealer. 

It was another fascinating Casper Ware-Scott Machado duel, but in the end it was the extra help Ware got that made the difference. He still played well for 16 points, three rebounds and two assists though. Jarell Martin produced another 16 points and seven rebounds with DJ Vasiljevic adding 11 points, Daniel Kickert 11 and Shaun Bruce six including the game-winner.

Machado finished with 21 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals for Cairns with Fabijan Krslovic contributing 13 points and five boards, Nate Jawai 12 points and five rebounds, and Mirko Djeric 11 points and three assists.


The now

Both the Kings and Taipans now enter Saturday's clash in winning form and looking to keep that momentum going after each of them had to have different players step up with a string of injuries.

The Kings played host to the South East Melbourne Phoenix back on Thursday and despite the absence of Jarell Martin and DJ Vasiljevic, they put together a tremendous performance to win 97-90. Making the win all the more impressive was the fact that Didi Louzada stepped up for a huge game with 28 points and eight rebounds while Brad Newley provided 17 points, Daniel Kickert 17 and Jordan Hunter 11 to go with six rebounds and six blocks while Casper Ware had a night to forget with two points.

That win improved the Kings to an 11-12 record on the season to have them once again knocking on the door of the top four and another win on Saturday against the Taipans will take them closer to ending the round in a playoff position again.

Then there is the Taipans who put together a strong showing at home to the Adelaide 36ers on Wednesday night, albeit having had to come from 16 points down to do so and having to deal with Scott Machado joining Majok Deng and Kouat Noi on the sidelines injured.

But from the moment the Snakes found themselves 16 down early in the second quarter, coach Mike Kelly got the response he was after and his team went on from there to blunt the Sixers and record their sixth victory of #NBL21.

Cam Oliver was a dominant presence with 25 points and 17 rebounds with Nate Jawai adding 13 points and three assists. Mojave King made the most of his first start with 14 points and five rebounds while Jordan Ngatai continued his career-best form with 15 points and two assists. Tad Dufelmeier also delivered in the absence of Machado with 12 points and eight assists.

Now if the Snakes can produce something similar over four quarters in Sydney on Saturday, there's no reason they can't come away with the win.


The quotes

Kings coach Adam Forde was especially proud on Thursday night to see Daniel Kickert and Brad Newley lead the team from the front when they needed their veterans the most.

"This is a testament to the depth of our bench and this is the great thing when you have guys who are Olympians, have played overseas and know the league so well. They almost become an extension of the coaching staff too," Forde said.

"What was great was they were ticking the scoreboard over for us. I burnt two timeouts early in the second and Kicks is out there splashing some threes. Then Newls in the third quarter blows the game wide open. 

"Now even when they're not scoring they are contributing so much to the team anyway, then when they do tick the scoreboard over it's amazing and the results speak for themselves. They are worth their weight in gold and the fact we have two of them is awesome."

Now for Forde, he wants to see the Kings carry that momentum forward from the win against the Phoenix if they want to really start to build some finals worthy momentum.

"It's all about us carrying it forward. We address it multiple times with our momentum and our lapses of concentration. We know what we're like now when we do play well and when we don't play well," Forde said.

"It's something we can identify on video of when it's us not talking or when it's us playing bad basketball and missing box outs. Then we can see what happens when we do set screens and roll to the basket, and print out of on-balls.

"We're talking about the effort things so now we've got enough games under our belt where we have an enormous library of showing where we are super effective compared to when we're not effective. So we'll go into the Cairns game fully knowing that we can identify what that animal is. We don’t want to be that team, we want to be aggressive like we were in this game against the Phoenix."

Taipans coach Mike Kelly was delighted with what he saw from his frontcourt of Cam Oliver, Nate Jawai, Fabijan Krslovic and George Blagojevic in the win over Adelaide, and hopes to see more of the same moving forward.

"Cam had super energy out there and he just was kind of the anchor especially on the boards. He was just consistently going after it especially on the defensive end where he was guarding Daniel Johnson, one of the best players in the league," Kelly said.

"That's a tough assignment right there and then to have the energy to grab 16 rebound was great. He then knocked down some shots as well, finished at the rim and the bigs did a good job of looking for each other out of the post, both Cam and Nate. You can throw Fab and George in there as well. But Cam led the charge."

Looking back on that win on Wednesday, clearly the game turned once the Taipans were down 16 to the Sixers and Kelly called a timeout. The Taipans responded and he saw a lot to like from that momentum.

"It was really just about them getting us on some screens where we didn’t switch and they were able to get to the basket," Kelly said.

"It was about trying to take away easy looks for them and we didn’t do that the whole time, but I think the guys did a much better job of it over the last two and-a-half quarters for the most part. 

"And then offensively, we kept it simple but when we played with pace these guys had opportunities to score and they started to score. It was a big scoring quarter for us and it was all about getting stops to start with, and then attacking with pace."


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