NZ Breakers target top-two finish ahead of Melbourne United doubleheader

With a playoff spot already secured, the New Zealand Breakers are now targeting a top-two finish ahead of this weekend's doubleheader against Melbourne United.   

Back-to-back wins over the Illawarra Hawks last week guaranteed a semi-final berth for the Auckland-based club, who will contest their eighth ANBL playoffs in 11 seasons.

Coach Paul Henare was pleased to see his side play post-season basketball once again, having missed out by a whisker last season, but as they departed for Melbourne, he was encouraging his troops to keep pushing for higher honours.

"There is always something to play for," said Henare. "Now we have an opportunity to position ourselves for a top-two finish and that's what we are aiming for.

"Since we have qualified for the playoffs with four games remaining, we've been able to paint a picture of the implications of finishing high, impactions of finishing low especially with the FIBA break coming up.

"Obviously, when you secure home-court advantage, you cut out one leg of travel in the whole series, which can make a big difference."

The Breakers won 10 of their last 11 games against Melbourne and are the only team the in-form league leaders have not beaten this season.

They won the most recent encounter, 98-81, last month.    

Melbourne have also got plenty to play for, as they need just two more wins from their final four games to ensure they finish on top of the ladder.

United coach Dean Vickerman said his side would come out physical, as they look to seal top spot.

"It's a team that, over a period of time, United have had their battles with," Vickerman said.

"They walk into playing us and they feel like they're going to get the win.

"We're a team they feel confident against and to change that, we're going to have to make sure the physicality is there."

The Breakers will likely miss injured Kirk Penny for Friday's match in Melbourne.

The guard missed their last outing with a corked calf muscle and was not with the team, when they departed for Melbourne.

The two rivals will then face off in a return fixture in Auckland on Sunday.