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R5 Preview: Adelaide v Sydney

Who: Adelaide 36ers v Sydney Kings When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Saturday 7 November Where: Titanium Security Arena, Adelaide Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Adelaide 91 (Johnson 19, Walker 17, Randle 16) d Sydney 80 (Childress 23, Khazzouh 17), Round 3, Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney THE MATCH-UP Daniel Johnson v Julian Khazzouh – The Kings centre grabbed just three defensive rebounds in 29 minutes against Melbourne, and was repeatedly exploited in the ball-screen situation. Sydney need Khazzouh to bounce back big time against Johnson, whose 20 points and 15 boards were a shining light in the loss to New Zealand. The stats In losses, the Kings have given up 91ppg at 47 per cent from the field and 43 per cent from three-point land. In their two wins those numbers are 70.5ppg at 36 per cent overall and 19 per cent from afar. Adelaide have allowed opponents to shoot a blistering 41 per cent from the arc in their four losses, but just 25 per cent in their trio of triumphs. THE STORY If Sydney were looking for a silver lining from their 11-point home loss to Melbourne it was their interior offence, where Al Harrington and Julian Khazzouh combined for 35 points. “Whether it’s Al or Julian I think those guys are good post players, and I think we’re good when get regular inside touches, scoring isn’t a problem for us,” coach Damian Cotter said. That inside-outside game allowed the Kings to score 94 points at a healthy 46 per cent, including 12-of-25 from the arc as seven players connected from range. A big issue, however, has been getting the ball to their bigs early in the shot clock, tough to do when conceding more than 90 points for the third time in the past four games and taking the ball out of the net repeatedly. “Until guys switch on (defensively) and start being responsible over a collective amount of possessions as a group we’re going to have these results,” Cotter said. Cotter noted that Melbourne “put us in rotations”, making Khazzouh defend continual ball-screens when he was guarding Daniel Kickert. Daniel Johnson has a similar skillset, so expect the 36ers to attack the same way to see if Sydney have made any adjustment in the half-court, and whether their bigs can keep up in the open floor. From Adelaide’s perspective, their defence allowed New Zealand to do as they wish late in Thursday’s clash, resulting in the Breakers’ main man, Corey Webster, breaking their hearts. Khazzouh and Harrington are the playmakers for Sydney, and time will tell whether the 36ers have made some adjustments of their own. “Webster got hot in the fourth but we just didn’t execute on defence like we wanted to,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve just got to make the other guys hurt us and we didn’t do that enough tonight.” THE WRAP Adelaide have looked every bit as good as the best teams in the competition for 35 minutes, only to fall away badly late in the game. Look for Johnson to be the hub of the 36ers’ offence if this one is tight down the stretch. Connecting from range has long been the best way to combat Joey Wright’s packed in defence, and if the ball goes through their big men first, those shots will become higher-percentage looks for the Kings. To win though, Sydney will need more defence like this:
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