Defending champions Perth Wildcats will face the winless Melbourne United at the Melbourne Arena on Sunday.
Defending champions Wildcats have started the season strongly. In the first two games, they have picked up two wins. They are in second place, behind the Sydney Kings solely due to points difference. Coincidentally, the Wildcats and Melbourne United faced off in their opening game of the season. Perth claimed a narrow 94-93 win to open their season on the right note. Melbourne were leading going into the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats staged a comeback.Embed from Getty Images
Perth outscored Melbourne 24-19 in the fourth quarter to overturn the deficit. Bryce Cotton top-scored for the Wildcats and he had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Forward Nick Kay had 18 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds in the game. Meanwhile Terrico White provided 20 points from the shooting guard spot. The rest of the players did not contribute much, but that changed in Perth’s second game when they faced the Illawarra Hawks.Embed from Getty Images
The Wildcats claimed a comprehensive victory by a 103-76 scoreline. Cotton starred again, and he had 28 points and 7 assists. He has been the club MVP for the past two seasons and for a good reason. As the Wildcats look for another championship, their point guard will be crucial in that run. Dario Hunt and Mitch Norton were also in double figures against the Hawks after a poor performance in the first game. Coach Damian Martin will be pleased with how his team has started the season.
As for Melbourne United, their season has begun in the opposite mood. Their first two games have brought two losses. They faced neighbors South Eastern Melbourne Phoenix in the first game and lost 91-88. Shawn Long had 26 points and 13 rebounds, but his performance was in vain. Chris Goulding top-scored for United with 27 points against the Phoenix.Embed from Getty Images
Perth delivered another narrow loss in the next game, which was a bitter pill to swallow. Melo Trimble stepped up this time, and he had 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Melbourne got some useful contributions off the bench from Jo Lual-Acuil and Alex Pledger as the duo combined for 26 points. However they could not defend their lead, and Perth stole the win at the end.
The two losses have been by close margins, and coach Dean Vickerman will want his side to keep their morale. Melbourne met Perth in the finals last season where they lost 3-1. Vickerman won the title in his first season in 2018 and reached the final in his next attempt. Melbourne are one of the sides challenging for the title, but their form will need to improve for that.
Melbourne United vs Perth Wildcats Prediction
Perth are the side in form, and we could see a repeat of the 94-93 win on Sunday. However, the game will be a close one again, and the margin of victory will be less than 10 points. Melbourne will give a good account of themselves, but Perth have enough to get another win.