Aside from sudden-death playoffs, NBL games don't get much bigger than Friday night's bout between long-time foes Wollongong and Sydney.
Both teams have 11-15 records with two games remaining and both are coming off losses.
Victory would go a long way towards securing third spot.
Alternatively, defeat could mean missing the finals altogether.
"It's like a playoff, where you know you might be going home if you lose one game," Hawks playmaker Adris Deleon said.
"It's really going to be a war, especially the way [Sydney's] Shane Heal coaches and how competitive they've been this year.
"All the bragging rights and the rivalry with the traditional Wollongong versus Sydney thing, this is only going to add more to it. It's huge."
If the Hawks beat Sydney they can look forward to next week's season-ending home game against wooden spoon favourites Adelaide (8-18).
If the Kings win they will be brimming with confidence for their final-round home game against Townsville (9-16).
"We can't think about Adelaide. All we're thinking about is winning our next game," Deleon said.
"There's been times this season when we really need a win and we've come out with it, so we'll be ready for this game.
"But I'm sure Sydney feel the same way. They know their season's on the line and they're going to come out firing, and we have to be ready for that.
"We're at home, so we have to take care of that. We know - everybody knows - it's not going to be easy.
"We have to come out positive and confident and just go play ball."
Deleon added: "I'm excited about it and really looking forward to the game now. That's the type of game I love. We both need to get in the playoffs. That's what you play basketball for - games like this."
• WOLLONGONG backcourt dynamo Adris Deleon reckons the Hawks mentally switched off at half-time of Saturday night’s 69-64 road loss to Townsville.
The Hawks held an eight-point lead towards the end of the second quarter and were still up 32-30 at half-time.
But almost five long minutes ticked by before they added to their tally, and meanwhile the Crocodiles skipped out to a nine-point lead.
The margin was 12 in the fourth quarter, though the Hawks fought back to close the gap to a single point with 17seconds remaining.
‘‘I think we came out of the locker room thinking it was going to be easy,’’ Deleon said.
‘‘We just went through the motions and didn’t focus on the things we focused on in the first half.
‘‘Offensively we weren’t kind of there in the first half but we did a pretty good job defensively. We went away from it defensively at the beginning of the third quarter, then we saw ourselves against the wall. That kind of woke us up and then we made our run.
‘‘We realise we had that game if we’d come out with the same intensity and focus in the second half.’’
The Hawks slipped to 11-15 and share third with arch-rivals Sydney.