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R5 Preview: Sydney v Melbourne

Who: Sydney Kings v Melbourne United When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Thursday 5 November Where: Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); NBL Live App Last time they met: Melbourne 96 (Goulding 25, Kickert 21) d Sydney 82 (Thornton 29, Khazzouh 12), Round 4, Hisense Arena, Melbourne THE MATCH-UP Marcus Thornton v Chris Goulding – While Goulding stole the headlines last Sunday, Thornton made a statement of his own with 29 points at 57 per cent. With a little help from his teammates, a repeat performance could be a match-winner on Thursday. THE STATS Melbourne have seven players shooting above 37 per cent from long range, and those players are taking 70 per cent of United’s 28.7 three-point attempts per game. Sydney have eight players shooting below 37 per cent from the arc, and together they have taken 78 per cent of the Kings’ 26.3 attempts. The story When asked about Chris Goulding’s 16-point first quarter outburst, Kings coach Damian Cotter produced a memorable quote. “I wanted to run on the court with a cricket bat and hit him on the back of the head,” he quipped. Goulding nailed four triples for the term – United eight – as Sydney’s defence ignored their coach’s pre-game warning. “We had a game plan to run them off the three,” Kings swingman Dion Prewster said. “When they get hot it can get pretty ugly pretty quickly, and it did.” While Cotter said the Kings will “have to look at our strategies defensively” for the return clash, the implementation must be a lot better to inflict Melbourne’s first defeat. “When we consistently apply ourselves as a group, as a collective, and stick to our strategy, we have success,” he said. But Goulding revealed Melbourne won’t be sitting idle despite their fourth double-figure victory of the young season. “There were patches where we built our lead off individual stuff and there were patches where we got an even bigger lead off playing the right type of basketball,” he said. Despite leading the league with 89.9 points a game, United’s 13.7 assists rank second last, something coach Dean Demopoulos knows must improve. “I think when things happen sometimes they turn inward, and I understand that, they turn to themselves because of their supreme confidence,” he said. “I don’t think we use each other as well as we can at times, and then … there are other times when it’s beautiful to watch.” THE WRAP The United train keeps on rolling, with Stephen Holt, Todd Blanchfield, Daniel Kickert and Majok Majok ably supporting Goulding, and it will take something special from the Kings to derail them. Sydney’s defensive woes were obvious last week, but offensively they need to establish Julian Khazzouh inside more often, and good things happen when Thornton attacks the paint.
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