United eye 'do-or-die' Taipans NBL clash

Darren Snowdon
Melbourne United boss Dean Vickerman is looking ahead to their crucial match with the Taipans

Melbourne United have need other results to go their way in order to qualify for the NBL semi-finals but coach Dean Vickerman's focus remains on his club's "do-or-die" clash with Cairns.

Saturday's 27-point victory over the Illawarra Hawks keeps United (13-13) in the race for the semi-finals with tough clashes against the Taipans and South East Melbourne Phoenix ahead in the final round.

Cairns sealed a top-four finish following their 19-point win over Adelaide on Saturday, leaving Melbourne to battle Brisbane (14-12) and New Zealand (14-13) for the last remaining playoff spot.

And while the Perth Wildcats can help United's cause with a victory in today's home clash with the Bullets, their coach has his sights firmly set on Thursday's match with the Taipans.

"It would be nice if Adelaide get a win (against Cairns), it would be nice if Perth win (against Brisbane) tomorrow," Vickerman said following United's 95-72 win over the Hawks.

"I might watch a bit of them but I'm worried about the Cairns one right now and finding ways to beat them and then the Phoenix after that.

"I'm sure I'll walk around in circles sometimes and scream at the TV a little bit but again, we've got no control over that."

Captain Chris Goulding nailed six three-pointers in his 20-point haul against Illawarra and feels his squad are responding well to the pressure of fighting for a finals berth after an inconsistent season.

"I think the whole do-or-die thing is good for us, obviously we would like to be in a better position," Goulding said.

"There's no ifs, ands, or buts now; we just need to win.

"We will have to come up with something a little different to try and knock off Cairns. They've been really good against us, but that mindset going into games is where we need to be: leave it all out there, just go for it."

Vickerman has altered his regular squads in recent weeks, even using import Melo Trimble as an offensive spark off the bench, to energise his side in their pursuit of a third successive finals campaign.

While Trimble has delivered in his new role and United's overall ball movement has improved, Vickerman will take his time to find the best lineup as they aim to defeat the Taipans for the first time this season.

"I can't tell you right now what the starting group will look like for Cairns," Vickerman said ahead of Thursday's blockbuster clash.

"We will make a good assessment, talk to the coaching staff, talk to the players about who we think are the best matchups and we will roll with it."