Avoiding a repeat of last week's nervous start is high on the wish list of the Wollongong Hawks for tomorrow night's meeting with long-time rivals Sydney.
The Hawks seemed to sleepwalk through the first three minutes of last week's home game against the Kings, falling behind 12-2 before clawing their way back to trail by a point at quarter-time.
They gradually wore down their opponents and claimed a much-needed 73-69 win, but last-placed Wollongong (3-7) can't afford to be passive at any stage tomorrow, especially in enemy territory.
"To get down on our home court early on, we were lucky it was at home and our crowd was able to help us get back from it," captain Oscar Forman said.
"If that happens in Sydney it could be a killer because it'll be tougher to come back from."
Aside from the poor opening minutes, the Hawks had a lot of success disrupting the Kings' offence over the final three periods.
Sydney's big three of Sam Young, AJ Ogilvy and Ben Madgen combined for 14 of the team's 16 turnovers and connected on just 14/33 shots combined.
The Hawks are wary of the star trio's thirst for revenge but confident their defence will hold firm.
"They can't do the same thing because I thought we played them pretty well, but offensively they'll be a lot more aggressive with a lot of transition stuff," Forman said.
"I'm expecting them to junk a few things up and change a couple of things, because Hammer [Sydney coach Shane Heal] didn't look very happy with their performance.
"A couple of times he was going at different players because of how they were reacting to us changing defences, so I expect Ogilvy to be a lot more aggressive. I saw at one stage Hammer pulled him off and had a word to him.
"Whether Ogilvy tries to bust through a double-team before it happens or just go at the double-team ... he's obviously an impact player that we can't let get out of hand.
Wollongong out-worked the Kings under the boards (34-30) last week and looked after the ball much more efficiently, with eight turnovers to Sydney's 16.
Sydney are expected to rely on trapping defence more than they did last week to force the Hawks into an up-tempo contest.
"We have been focusing this week on our errors and making sure we know what we're doing, because we have numerous different ways we're going to play them," Forman said.
A win for the Hawks would give them some confidence heading into the NBL's two-week Christmas break.
Wollongong's next games are against Melbourne on December 27 (away) and December 31 (home).