Kings will need to contain Cedric Jackson
The Sydney Kings no doubt have some special plans to contain the triple-threat of Cedric Jackson in tonight's NBL clash at the Olympic Park in Homebush.
But the New Zealand Breakers are confident that whatever schemes Kings coach Shane Heal has mapped out, Jackson and his team-mates have the wherewithal to make the necessary adjustments.
The 7-5 Kings are sure to have made Jackson the integral feature of their scout as the 8-2 league leaders come to town.
The American point guard was nothing short of spectacular last week as he racked up the Breakers' first ever triple-double with 28 points, 10 boards and 10 assists in the runaway victory over the Melbourne Tigers.
It was just the second time since the league went to 40-minute games that a player had logged double-figures in the three main statistical categories.
"How they choose to play him we'll find out, but I think most teams try to key in on Cedric," said coach Andrej Lemanis before crossing the Tasman yesterday.
"It's a little easier said than done. When you try do that we've got good pieces around and Cedric is the sort of guy who's a willing passer and distributor.
"If you spend a lot attention on him it tends to open up opportunities for everybody else.
"Their tactics are their tactics and we'll play them as they unfold."
Jackson's backcourt mate Daryl Corletto was confident that the Breakers could deal with whatever plans the Kings had to reduce Jackson's effectiveness.
"There's only so much you can do," shrugged the experienced two-man. "He's one of those players that doesn't care about scoring, and can dominate the game in a lot of different ways.
"If they take the balls out of his hands, it just means someone like myself or CJ [Bruton] have to bring it up, then Cedric can come off screens or handoffs. You can't take him completely out of the game."
Besides, added Corletto, the Kings aren't exactly renowned for their defensive fortitude.
"Sydney's not a team that shows that aggression defensively like Perth. I can't imagine them getting up and in just for one game against Cedric.
"They guard a bit like Wollongong, go under the on-ball screens and dare you to shoot jump-shots.
"If he knocks them down he's unguardable."
The Kings' chances of ending a horror run of seven straight defeats against the Breakers may rest on whether the NBL's leading scorer Ben Madgen has recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered in Sunday's victory at Adelaide.
The Breakers expect to see him, given he came back after the knock and finished the 36ers game.
From their perspective, the key to defusing the Kings threat will be in dealing with a perimeter game that has plenty of potency.
Heal's offence generates plenty of quality looks for Madgen (who had 30 against the Breakers last time out) and fellow guards Corin Henry, Aaron Bruce and Kevin White, and that's where the bulk of the Kings scoring tends to come.
"They go with three guys under 6'3, they get the ball and push it and attack with penetration," said Corletto. "Their guards can all score and assist, and it's definitely a game where our guards are going to have to be switched on."
Corey Webster, who is making a good fist of backing up Jackson at the point, backed the Breakers perimeter players to meet the challenge head-on.
"They've got some guards who can score the ball, but we've got to make them play defence too so they can't rest. They have to guard us as well.
"And we've got a big player in Pledge (Alex Pledger) we can go inside to. I think we've got an advantage there with our inside presence."
Tipoff tonight is at 9.40pm (NZ time).
Sydney Kings: Corin Henry, Aaron Bruce, Ben Madgen, Kevin White, Luke Martin, Darnell Lazare, Tom Garlepp, Graeme Dann, Ian Crosswhite, Jarrad Weeks.
NZ Breakers: Cedric Jackson, Daryl Corletto, CJ Bruton, Corey Webster, Tom Abercrombie, Leon Henry, Mika Vukona, Dillon Boucher, Alex Pledger, Will Hudson.
- © Fairfax NZ News