News

R15 Preview: Perth v Sydney

Who: Perth Wildcats v Sydney Kings When: 9.30pm (AEDT), Friday 15 January Where: Perth Arena Watch: Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Perth 87 (Wagstaff 26, Beal 23, Jawai 10) d Sydney 69 (Brandt 17, Cadee 13, Thornton 13), Round 10, Sydney Entertainment Centre THE MATCH-UP Josh Childress v Casey Prather – Prather has averaged 12.3 points at 30 per cent and 3.3 rebounds in his past four games, after racking up 19.3ppg at 53 per cent and 5.3 boards in the previous six. Childress, on the other hand, comes into this game averaging 21.7ppg at 60 per cent from the field, 57 per cent from the arc, 7.7rpg, 2.7apg, 2.7bpg and 1.3spg since his return from injury. THE STATS The Wildcats are 7-1 when Prather scores more than 15 points and 7-0 when he dishes out multiple assists. The last time the Kings won in Perth was 2 February 2008 when Dontaye Draper had 20 points and eight assists in the 104-85 result. THE STORY Casey Prather didn’t have to think for too long when asked who is the best player he has ever faced. “We played against Anthony Davis with Kentucky and he definitely was the best player,” he said. Prather loves attacking the big guys, and when asked how he went taking it to the rim against Davis – who has blocked 582 shots in 231 NBA games – he simply replied “not too bad actually”. “I told myself I was going to dunk on him, but I didn’t really get the chance to dunk on him so I got one of his teammates, that was good enough,” he laughed. It’s no secret Prather harbours strong ambitions to follow Davis into the NBA and finally get that prized poster dunk, and he sees this Friday’s match-up with Josh Childress and Sydney as another step along that path. Prather admits he used to follow Childress during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, and feels “the opportunity to play against him is truly remarkable”. “He’s a proven guy, even in the NBA he was playing well, he’s a great player,” he said. “He’s so versatile, he’s a big guy who can post guards up, he can take little guys off the dribble, he’s got great awareness offensively and defensively, he plays hard both ends.” Both Prather and Childress can be breathtaking in the open court, and fans right around the country will be hoping for a high-paced game so they can showcase their talents. That’s the direction the Wildcats have been heading since the return of energizer bunny Damian Martin, setting aside their more controlled early-season style, but the results have been mixed. “I feel like our tempo has been picking up, I think everyone is on board with it and comfortable playing that type of style, the only problem is we need to play both ends of the court,” Prather said. “Maybe one day we have a great defensive game but we don’t execute as well at the offensive end and vice versa the next game, so it’s just about consistency at both ends, that’s what we’re working on right now.” The athletic American knows they need to get it right against the Kings, with Childress, Tom Garlepp, Jason Cadee, Rhys Carter and Marcus Thornton all dangerous if given room in transition. “I know they're a desperate team. Anytime you have a record like they do you want to go out with a bang, you want to give it your all, and I know those guys are really talented,” he said. THE WRAP Sydney have been pounded on almost every trip west since re-entering the league in 2010, and a big factor has been the Wildcats’ rebounding dominance. The Kings made a brief resurgence on the glass when Joe Connelly took the reins, but that was with Julian Khazzouh and Damion James dominating the glass. That pair is no more, and Childress and Angus Brandt can’t carry the load on their own. The other factor that has crippled the Kings in Perth has been turnovers, so expect Martin, Prather and Jarrod Kenny to turn the screws on Cadee and Thornton. Sydney’s advantage is Brandt and Garlepp’s ability to hit the three and spread the defence, but if the Wildcats control the boards, and Prather can keep Childress from running riot, it’s hard to see the Kings getting enough open looks to break their western drought.
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