Ware prepares ‘Joker face’ for Kings showdown

Ware prepares ‘Joker face’ for Kings showdown

If the Sydney Kings see Melbourne United star Casper Ware unleash a wide smile on Friday night, they'd better be prepared.

Because when the big moments come, Ware puts on his "joker face" and a great performance usually follows.

Melbourne United’s Casper Ware is primed to tackle the Sydney Kings on Friday.Credit:AAP

The NBA import point guard explained the name, inspired by Heath Ledger's unforgettable performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, and his mindset when asked on Thursday.

Melbourne can lock in a top-two finish this round if they can overcome the Kings on Friday night then beat a desperate Adelaide 36ers in Adelaide on Sunday, so both games could well bring out Ware's best form, as he had enjoyed big games against both clubs.

Ware certainly went into that mode in the last meeting with Adelaide, scoring 26 points in 27 minutes in their clash on Boxing Day.

"It's just a killer mode you go into," Ware said.

"It's one of those things. It's my time, no playing around, you got to get this win.

"It's one of those things you feel. I don't know if you can teach that to somebody, it was something instilled in my real early by my father.

"I just go in this mode where I don't talk to nobody. It's just one of those things, I think."

But Ware also knows it will take more than just baskets to beat the Kings on Friday, with Melbourne looking to make it 11 straight wins over Sydney, who have not beaten them since they adopted the United name.

Another story line for Friday night’s game is the NBL MVP race. Ware and Kings centre Andrew Bogut rank right at the top of potential winners after both made the 20-player short list this week.

Perth's Bryce Cotton and Brisbane's Lamar Patterson are also leading MVP candidates.

Captains and coaches from all eight sides will vote on the award, and they can't vote for their own clubmates.

Ware knows as a point guard his team's performance will speak for his season.

"Maybe if we win on Friday night I'll be more of a chance [for MVP]," Ware said.

"But you can't think about that, if we keep winning then we get that top-two spot and the more chance I have of winning that, but for me it is just about winning games.

"I would rather win a championship than win MVP."

Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman has praised his side for their excellent form in recent weeks and he slightly reduced their training load this week after travelling to and from Auckland last week while claiming two wins over the New Zealand Breakers.

Ware struggled badly during regular time in last Sunday’s clash with the Breakers in Melbourne, making two of 15 shots, but his side went back to him in overtime and he turned into the match-winner with eight of his 16 points leading the team to a 111-102 win.

"My teammates kept talking to me like "we believe in you", "we got you" and "we are going to keep giving you the ball, you're our guy"," Ware said.

"When I play so badly for four quarters and they still want to give me the ball, it's like "OK let's go" and I'm just happy I came through for them and the team."

Vickerman recently praised Ware for setting up DJ Kennedy, Mitch McCarron, Josh Boone and Chris Goulding, who have all had big scoring games recently.

Newcomers McCarron and Kennedy both handle the ball, which has seen Ware spend a little less time with it – and that suits him fine.

"It's not like we have the same team as last year," Ware said.

"You need to learn where this guy or that guy needs to get going. I think we've found that now, it's the thing that is clicking the best and we are unselfish too.

"Somebody is aggressive but it's not like they will always shoot, if someone is open they pass it."

Melbourne United play Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday at 7.50pm AEDT.

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