Tough weekend in store for the Taipans

SECOND-placed Cairns faces a tough NBL weekend double, hosting defending champion Perth tonight before backing up in a north Queensland derby 48 hours later in Townsville.

The third-placed Wildcats can edge Cairns out of second place with a win tonight, and can draw on the memory of having beaten the Taipans in the first game of their series last year.

Statistics show the Wildcats don't win on the road (0-4) when their offence fails to hit 80 points or more, which means a tough defensive night ahead for the Taipans.

Cairns will need import Scotty Wilbekin to hit his outside shots, which will not be an easy task against the smothering defence of star guard Damian Martin.

The Taipans will also need to make sure they are competitive on the boards, with big men Cameron Tragardh (pictured), Matt Burston and Alex Loughton all needing to continue their recent good form.

Tonight's other game will see the Sydney Kings host Townsville, with the loser almost certainly out of contention for this season's finals. The Kings are in fifth place, 2.5 games behind Melbourne, and have just four of their remaining 10 games at home.

Six of those are against teams above them on the ladder, making a win tonight essential.

After beating Sydney on New Year's Eve, the Crocs are four games outside the top four and cannot afford to drop any more matches.