- Publish Date
- Sunday, 5 March 2023, 11:09AM
New Zealand Breakers coach Mody Maor insists his team have “done nothing” in the wider context of the NBL grand final after taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series against the Sydney Kings.
The Breakers were impressive at both ends of the court in the 95-87 win in Sydney on Friday night, scoring 30 points in the first quarter for just the third time this season and going on with the job from there.
The Kings, who came into the playoffs as the top-seeded team and were the highest-scoring outfit during the regular season, struggled to find a way through the Breakers’ strong defence for much of the contest. When they did begin to close the gap in the latter stages, Breakers import guard Barry Brown Jr took over.
Maor said he expected the Kings would be able to cut into the deficit, and it was on the Breakers to remain composed to seal the win.
“They’re the best team in the league; they’re going to go on runs,” Maor said. “We’re prepared for them to go on runs and we need to respond.
“For us it’s always about going back to who we are; establishing the way we play, doing things the right way, allowing us to control the tempo.”
Brown Jr’s 19 points were one of several bright spots for the Breakers. Point guard Will McDowell-White was strong across the board, stuffing the stat sheet with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Jarrell Brantley made an impact at both ends, while the Breakers were able to keep league MVP Xavier Cooks to just eight points and 2-10 from the floor.
There was a lot to like for the Breakers, but Maor said they couldn’t get too excited after stealing game one on their opponent’s home court.
“We’ve done nothing. My experience says you take it one game at a time; you ignore the result from game one, learn what you need to learn, draw your conclusion, formalise your game plan and go to work,” Maor said.
“We’re, generally speaking, a process-oriented team. We care about how we do things. This is a tough group and I have a lot of faith in them. I know we can play a lot better than how we played and that’s where our focus is going to be.”
The result continued the trend of away teams winning when the Breakers and Kings meet. In their three regular-season meetings, neither won on their own court.
The Breakers will be looking to buck that trend when the series continues at a sold-out Spark Arena on Sunday evening.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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