Kings in finals mode as crucial month looms
AAP: Jasper Bruce
The Sydney Kings' hopes of defending their NBL crown hinge on switching into sudden-death mode for the rest of the regular season, Angus Glover says.
The back-to-back reigning champions had been under pressure with only one win from six games before stunning ladder-leading Melbourne United at home on Sunday.
A guaranteed semi-final berth remains off the table for Sydney; the Perth Wildcats can confirm they will join United in the top two by winning one of their final four games.
But the makeup of the Play-In bracket, introduced last season and contested by the teams finishing third to sixth, is much less clear-cut.
With three rounds left in the regular season, each side down to last-placed South East Melbourne could still reach the Play-In tournament, where two of four teams progress to to the 'Playoffs' series.
The Kings' path to a Play-In berth, and the first step to clinching a third consecutive title, begins with Friday's away clash against the resurgent Adelaide 36ers.
"Basically every game from here is a play-off game," Glover told AAP.
"Everyone's competing for that top six spot.
"For us, it's good practice hopefully going into the top six at the end of the year but at the end of the day we've still got to go out there and perform."
Sydney cannot afford a repeat of their last meeting against the Sixers, who have won five of their last six.
Adelaide outworked the Kings on rebounds when they clashed in mid-January and restricted them to only eight second-quarter points - Sydney's lowest return for any period this season.
But Glover believes the win over United highlighted the Kings' ability to handle high-pressure games.
"When we have our backs against the wall, we tend to always get a result in our favour," he said.
"To play the way we played on Sunday was obviously a good sign for us hopefully going forward for the last three [games in the regular season]."
Injured Kings forward DJ Hogg has trained this week and is a chance to play his first game since December.
Shoulder issues have scuppered the American in his first season with Sydney, who have been unsure of his return timeline throughout his latest spell on the pine.
"Obviously that's a big boost if he is out there," Glover said.
"This time of year, you want to get your full squad back."