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R7 Preview: Sydney v New Zealand

Who: Sydney Kings v New Zealand Breakers When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Thursday 19 November Where: Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: New Zealand 74 (Webster 22, Abercrombie 15) d Sydney 62 (Thornton 18, Cadee 13, Khazzouh 13), Round 3, North Shore Events Centre, Auckland
R3 NZ v Sydney HighlightsHIGHLIGHTS | Check out all the best plays from the SKYCITY Breakers NZ win over the Sydney Kings earlier tonight!Box Score: http://bit.ly/1MT5Tsv Posted by NBL on Wednesday, October 21, 2015
THE MATCH-UP Al Harrington v Mika Vukona – Linas Kleiza, Kenneth Faried, Andrew Bogut, Dirk Nowitzki, Jonas Valanciunas, Boris Diaw – you name them, Mika Vukona has guarded them. He faces another massive test Thursday with NBA vet Al Harrington starting to find his legs and his stroke. THE STATS Since Harrington joined the Kings five games ago they have led the league in scoring at 93.4ppg. However, they have also conceded 92.6ppg, up from 81.6 in their opening five games. In the past two seasons New Zealand are 19-3 when they keep opponents below 83 points, compared to 9-10 when they don’t. They have allowed just 76.8ppgin their past five games. THE STORY It was a different Sydney Kings last Thursday, holding Adelaide to just 84 points, the fewest the fast-paced 36ers have scored in their past seven games. While the compliments were dished out to the Kings’ defence, an old basketball saying goes “the first part of your defence is the choices you make on offence”. “I think that’s been our issue, sometimes we get in that flow and we just roll with it,” point guard Jason Cadee said. “Obviously it’s easy to flow and run when everything’s going well, but even when things are going well you’ve got to be able to pull it up and say, ‘Righto, let’s get the ball through some hands because the last two times Jules (Khazzouh) was inside and he didn’t touch it.’” Kings coach Damian Cotter was full of praise for Cadee’s efforts in that department last week. “From his point of view I’ve done it a few times this year and he thinks when I do it and lead the group follows,” Cadee said. Control is key this Thursday against a New Zealand team expert at suffocating teams defensively – with Cedric Jackson and Mika Vukona leading the way - and then turning their mistakes into easy points at the other end. “I’ve been lucky enough to go across and play with a few of them, as well as Dillon Boucher, and you can just tell when you get a few of them together they just read the game so well,” Cadee said. “When New Zealand are on they are hard to stop and they're hard to score on because they find ways to grind it out.” Cadee knows the key is countering the Breakers’ defence with intelligence and making sure Khazzouh, Al Harrington and Marcus Thornton are getting the ball in their preferred spots. “It’s to be controlled and settled, to offensively know what’s happened on the previous plays. We’ve got to know who we’re going to and who we need to get going,” he said. THE WRAP  Sydney’s offence is rolling but they haven’t faced a defence like New Zealand’s, which has length, speed, athleticism, experience and cohesion. The Breakers don’t like to double-team, so ability of Khazzouh and Harrington to score on Vukona, Charles Jackson and Alex Pledger will be key. Offensively, New Zealand make teams simultaneously defend the on-ball action of Cedric Jackson and the off-ball movement of Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie, which will test the Kings’ zone. Sydney’s transition defence must also be on-song, because no one turns a rebound into a score better than the Breakers.
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