Melbourne United are yet to fire as expected this season, but Hawks forward Tim Coenraad knows that when it happens they can still be a force to be reckoned with.
United were the pre-season favourites to win the NBL after adding reigning MVP Casey Prather to an already stacked roster for the 2017-18 campaign.
However, the Victorian club have experienced a hit-and-miss start to the year and currently sit on the cusp of the top-four with a 5-5 record. They have come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks after they were handed a 32-point pounding by the Perth Wildcats before the competition took a break for last week’s World Cup qualifiers.
United will now look to rebound from the heavy defeat against the Hawks (5-6) at Hisense Arena on Monday night. Coenraad is wary of the challenge.
"I think any time to play a team like them is a dangerous time because eventually they are going to have a night where everything clicks for them," he said.
"Part of them with the new team that they have, they are just trying to find an identity. They have a good group of returning guys but you bring in new pieces and then the team has to try and find itself again.
"Once they start clicking, they certainly have the talent to make a run at the post season.
"A lot of the time you can't even try and coach that sort of thing. It is just about getting the team to click. It's probably the toughest part in basketball.”
Coenraad was adamant United still have threats all over the floor despite their inconsistent form.
With the likes of Casper Ware and Chris Goulding supporting Prather, the Hawks sharpshooter stressed the importance of knuckling down on defence early in the match.
“It is our job to try and take them out of [of their rhythm] early on to make them feel uncomfortable and get them out of their flow,” Coenraad said.
"They have a lot of shooters so we have to do work making sure they don't get open looks."
Monday’s match is Illawarra’s last away game for more than six weeks.
It sets up a favourable home schedule throughout the middle portion of the season which Coenraad believes the Hawks can take advantage of.
"The way I have been looking at it is, we have played three home games and have got five wins so as long as start taking care of our home court we will be fine," he said.
"I know we had that one home loss but the positive is that we have three wins away from home already.
“Coming up we have Melbourne which is going to be a tough ask.
“They are a very talented team and then after that, if we can take care of home we will be in a really good spot.
"The ladder at this stage doesn't really have an indication of where people are at because of that schedule.
“Hopefully in this mid stretch where we have this run of home games, we can really started to make a push for the top of the ladder to set us up for later in the season."