Surging Bullets ‘should come out on top’ of Kings
NBL great and dual Olympian Mark Worthington says Brisbane are the best team in the competition right now and deserve to be favourites for Friday night's blockbuster against Andrew Bogut and the league-leading Sydney at Boondall.
The fourth-placed Bullets (12-9) own the NBL's longest active winning streak with three victories on the trot while the table-topping Kings (13-8) have lost their last two outings, including the 119-99 defeat at the hands of Adelaide last weekend when Sydney pulled in only 18 rebounds.
Worthington, now a commentator with Fox Sports, said the 29-point loss to Cairns on January 3 was a wake-up call for the Bullets, who have responded emphatically and found form at the right time of the season with import Lamar Patterson leading the way.
In addition to the all-round class of Patterson, Worthington said the outside shooting of Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee had been vital for Brisbane while the trio of Matt Hodgson, Cam Bairstow and Mika Vukona had muscled-up in the paint for the Bullets.
"They are probably the hottest team in the NBL right now. Losses like that one to Cairns happen some times in sport and it can be a reminder to teams that they just can't take any team easy,'' Worthington said.
"They've turned their season around. Lamar Patterson has been huge. He probably would be close to an MVP had he been there all season.
"They've definitely been the best team in the last three rounds … on form you'd have to say that Brisbane should come out on top (at Boondall).
"At the moment, they are just playing a better brand of basketball.''
Brisbane have the third-best offence (90.1 points per game) and third-best defence (87 points conceded per game) in the NBL while being most accurate in field goals (47 per cent), three-pointers (41 per cent) and second for assists (19.4 per game).
But Worthington said any team with Bogut could not be discounted.
"There's been a bit of talk about the Kings slipping so I'd expect him to come out and have a big game,'' he said.
"What he's done for the league has been incredible on and off the floor and we haven't seen a big man with this sort of dominance in a long, long time.
"He is a class player and he wants to be out there.
"Sydney have looked a little tired and a little flat the past couple of weeks but it's hard to know what's going on if you are not in the inner circle. Maybe their workload has been lifted to get them ready for finals.''
A crowd in excess of 5000 is expected at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for Bogut's first trip to Brisbane with the Andrew Gaze-coached Kings.
Brisbane play Sydney in three of their next four games as the race for the NBL's top four intensifies with six teams still in the running for the playoffs.