Drinkwise Preview: NBL24 - Round 19 v New Zealand Breakers
Melbourne United Media
Looking to build momentum as they race towards the postseason, Melbourne United will play host to the New Zealand Breakers at John Cain Arena on Sunday.
Having beaten the Breakers twice so far this season, United will head into the game full of confidence.
This strong form against New Zealand extends out across previous years, with Melbourne having won 11 of their last 12 meetings.
For New Zealand, a Friday night win over the Illawarra Hawks has helped strengthen their finals hopes, however they’ll need to tally as many wins as possible across the final two rounds to secure their spot.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Heading into what will be his 50th career NBL game, Matthew Dellavedova is hoping to replicate his previous performance against the Breakers, which saw him tally a 14-point, 10-assist double-double and sink the game-winning free throw in Round 15.
In his second stint with United, ‘Delly’ has established himself as perhaps the best pure point guard in the league, finding his teammates for open looks (league-best 6.2 assists per game) and locking down opposing guards defensively.
Heading into Sunday, look for the NBA championship winner to orchestrate Melbourne’s offence as he looks to lead MU to their 19th win of the season.
In a battle of pure offensive brilliance and sheer defensive force, the matchup between Shea Ili and Parker Jackson-Cartwright is sure to create fireworks.
The man they call ‘PJC’ is coming off one of his best performances of the season; a 31-point, seven assist effort against the Hawks, and at times has looked like one of the league’s most unguardable players.
This however will not phase Ili, who has been touted by those around the league as the NBL’s best defensive player.
Their only previous meeting this season was a brilliant battle, with Jackson-Cartwright scoring 18 points to Ili’s 16, while the dynamic Kiwi came away with the W.
THE OTHER GUYS
Without star forward Anthony Lamb, the Breakers have turned to their depth for the scoring punch necessary to fight their way into the finals.
Will McDowell-White put together one of his best games of the season on Friday, scoring 16 points before going down with an ankle injury, while Next Star Mantas Rubstavicius added a trio of three-pointers.
A major X factor will be the play of Zylan Cheatham, who scored a season-high 30 points against MU in Round 4, but has struggled at times to find consistency.
Who: Melbourne United vs New Zealand Breakers
Tip-off: 2pm AEDT, Sunday 11 February, 2024
Where: John Cain Arena, Melbourne
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