United aim for some NBL breathing space

Melbourne United know too well the value of their home court in the NBL play-offs, making Friday's blockbuster away game to Sydney in an integral part of their title defence.

Victory over the Kings (16-9) would give breathing space for league leaders Melbourne (16-8) in the three-team race for the minor premiership.

Sydney face the Wildcats (16-9) in Perth on Sunday, the same day Melbourne meet fourth-placed Adelaide in what shapes as an influential series of games.

Dean Vickerman's team stormed to the title last year on the back of clinching top spot, with a 20-8 record.

The seasoned coach believes qualifying first is even more important this year because of whispers he's hearing about the finals schedule.

"From what I understand, the playoff schedule is probably going to be a little more condensed than it was last year," Vickerman said.

"So that, to me, tells me home court advantage is going to be even more important. We'll do everything we can to get it."

Melbourne are on a four-game winning streak but more pertinent is the recent hold they have over the Kings, who they've shaded 10 times in a row.

Vickerman is ignoring that statistic, preferring to take some comfort that his players are producing the sort of shared numbers that marked their winning charge last season.

The starting five has hit its straps while star guard Chris Goulding is providing punch in a new role from the bench, along with the likes of Alex Pledger and Craig Moller in recent games.

"We're always going to have questions about who we play at different times because we've got seven or eight guys who all deserve major minutes," Vickerman said.

"I like it about our group that if someone's down a little bit, we've got others stepping up."

It was guard Mitch McCarron's turn for the spotlight in the overtime win over the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday, grabbing 25 points alongside eight rebounds and six assists.

McCarron said Sydney will need to find a way to break down Melbourne's sharing ethos.

"We're really unselfish by nature. We're always looking to make that extra pass and if people are knocking down that open shot, we're a really tough team to guard."