United down but not out in NBL GF series

Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman has urged his players to stay "ultra confident" despite going 1-0 down in their grand final series against the Perth Wildcats.

The Wildcats boast a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series after posting an 81-71 win at RAC Arena on Friday night.

Game two will be held in Melbourne on Sunday, and United now have little margin for error if they want to defend their NBL title.

Melbourne led Perth by four points at half-time on Friday night, but were on the receiving end of an 11-0 run to start the third quarter.

A worrying aspect for Melbourne is the fact they were beaten easily despite holding star Wildcats import Bryce Cotton to just 10 points.

But Vickerman is confident his team can level the series on Sunday.

"We have to be ultra confident," Vickerman said.

"They did their job at home, and we have to make sure we do our job and keep this series well alive."

Cotton made just four of his 16 field goal attempts, and missed all nine of his three-point shots.

But with Terrico White (19), Angus Brandt (14), Nick Kay (10), and Jesse Wagstaff (10) all hitting double figures, the Wildcats had too many scoring threats for Melbourne to handle.

Cotton's eight assists were crucial, especially in the third quarter when the Wildcats caught fire from long range.

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson wasn't worried by Cotton's rare shooting flop.

"Sometimes that just happens," Gleeson said of Cotton, who once scored 45 points in a grand final match.

"The encouraging thing is we dropped 81 points and Bryce only scores 10 and goes 0-9 and Clint (Steindl) goes 1-5.

"Our two best shooters go 1-14 (from three-point range). That's the encouraging part (that we still won).".

United big man DJ Kennedy is expected to be fit for game two despite copping a heavy hit to the chin.

Kennedy had to be assisted from the court just before half-time, but was able to play out the match.

Melbourne conceded 23 points from turnovers, and Vickerman said his team needed to take better care of the ball.

United's 6-of-14 return from the free-throw line also cost them dearly.

Captain Chris Goulding, who scored 15 points, said he was confident of turning the tables on the Wildcats in Melbourne.

"We stay confident. We're disappointed we lost, but our confidence doesn't take a hit," Goulding said.

"We have to go home and make it 1-1."