Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman gets his message across during the win over the Bullets.Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman believes his side have plenty of room for improvement despite registering a third straight win to move two games clear atop the NBL ladder.
Having secured a playoff spot, United set about maintaining their top ranking but were forced to do it the hard way in Saturday’s 69-61 victory over a dogged Bullets outfit in front of 10,300 fans at Hisense Arena.
“Obviously, it’s a good grind-out win but there’s lots to work on and that’s the thing for us right now – did we get better today,” Vickerman queried after the win against a Brisbane side missing key import Travis Trice.
“We did some things defensively to say we got better but did we get better offensively…no, plenty to work on.”
Disrupted by Brisbane’s defence early and indecisive in attack during a low-scoring first half, United turned to point guard Casper Ware who combined with low-post scorers Josh Boone and Tai Wesley to build a match-winning lead in the third quarter.
High-flying United have won 11 of 13 matches since suffering a 32-point blowout loss to defending champions Perth on November 19 but Vickerman feels his side has yet to reach peak form.
I know we’ve been better…we’ve played solid basketball to get these wins recently but we haven’t played great,” he said after United failed to reach 70 points for just the fourth time this season and only connected on 3-of-18 three-pointers.
“When you don’t perform to your identity about the things you have done all year, you’ve got to check that and ask why – was it us, was it them…tonight it was a bit of both.”
Vickerman also threw down the challenge to some of his bench players as he handed significant playing time to Craig Moller over import Carrick Felix and played reserve guards Kyle Adnam and Peter Hooley for key minutes early in the fourth quarter.
“We are just trying to find out and get as much information as we can about our own group and who can handle the pressure situations,” Vickerman said.
Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis said he believes Melbourne possess the talent and defensive steel to make a run at the title.
“At the end of the day, defence is what gets it done particularly when you are talking about a five-game series,” Lemanis said.
“With the talent they have, their willingness to defend and their ability to make plays, I definitely think they have a great opportunity to win it.”