R7 Preview: The Warm Up

Round 7 of the 2015/16 NBL season will see how Melbourne United will respond to their first loss of the NBL season, show what's in store for the Sydney Kings with Josh Childress soon to return and find out if the Townsville Crocodiles can stay alive before entering a run of home games. 

Round 6 saw Melbourne lose for the first time this season to the Cairns Taipans, Al Harrington lead the Kings to their best performance in some time and the Crocs suffered yet another road loss. 

Winning in Cairns is no easy feat and Melbourne United found this out on Friday night as coach Dean Demopoulos tasted defeat in the NBL, for the first time after his historic start.

Despite his team being held to a season-low 70 points and Chris Goulding having a night to forget, there's little reason for Demopoulos and his 9-1 team to sweat just yet.

They now return home to host the Crocs on Friday night, before taking on the New Zealand Breakers in a tantalising re-match at Vector Arena this Sunday.

The Breakers are yet to beaten at home and will be looking for revenge after their last encounter with the Championship favourites at Hisense Arena.

The Kings are a fascinating case study. They’re now preparing for their last match with NBA veteran Al Harrington in the line-up. this Thursday at the Kingdome against the Breakers.

Seven days earlier, Sydney put in its best performance of the season, at least since their Round 1 win over Cairns, when they beat the Adelaide 36ers at home by 22 points. It was Harrington who was the star of the show, with the skilled power forward dominating for 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

With Childress now on the verge of returning for the Kings after a hand fracture and suspension, Harrington will have to step aside and make way for the pre-season MVP favourite on their roster.

Given what Childress has done in the NBL over the past season and-a-half, nobody can question that decision but it will be fascinating to find out if the Kings can continue their momentum when Harrington checks out.

First things first, if Big Al leads the Kings to another win over New Zealand on Thursday, in their second last game ever at the Kingdome, it will go down as one of the most highly successful individual stints as an injury-replacement.

The Crocodiles now face a huge challenge this Friday at Hisense Arena, trying to give Melbourne United consecutive losses, and their first at home. All this, without suspended skipper Brian Conklin.

The Crocs have already won twice on the road this season (Sydney & Perth) and with a run of 10 of their last 14 games at the Swamp to look forward to, this game could prove pivotal.

However, staying in the play-off hunt will be tough if they begin December at 3-13, meaning they need at least one win out of their next three games, which begins this Friday in Melbourne.

Followed by a home game coincidentally also against United and an away game against the high-octane Illawarra Hawks.

Import Jordair Jett, shooter Clint Steindl and big men Nick Kay and Mitch Young will all need to come up huge if that's to happen.

Without Luke Schenscher and Brian Conklin, an underdog victory could turn the momentum in their favour ahead of a home stretch to finish the season.


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