The ultimate goal remains unchanged but first the Breakers have 10 games to ensure their championship challenge doesn't end prematurely.

Such a scenario seemed unlikely last month, when the Kiwi club were within touching distance of top spot, but a combination of inconsistency and a congested ladder has added extra significance to tonight's encounter with Adelaide.

While the Breakers (11-7) are fourth and still have some breathing room ahead of the chasing pack, fifth-placed Adelaide (9-9) will head to the North Shore Events Centre hoping to make their opponents' breathing a little more constricted.

It was poorly-timed, with the run to the playoffs now under way, but there were signs this mini-form slump was imminent. Even before their thumping against Illawarra, coach Dean Vickerman was unimpressed with the 40-minute efforts of his side.


And, with two defeats from their last three games, those feelings would have only enhanced. The festive season illuminated some troubling trends for the Breakers, who have been playing well only in patches and are guilty of becoming too reliant on the constant threat of Corey Webster.

Both faults were abundant during their post-Christmas road trip, when one good half was enough to see off Sydney before Webster scored 24 points in vain in the Cairns loss.

The Breakers' tally of 66 was their lowest in more than a year and one player whose offensive presence was missed knows it was unacceptable.

"Sixty-six points is obviously not going to win you a lot of games," said Tom Abercrombie, a late withdrawal from the Taipans clash after heading home for the birth of his first child. "We're not happy with our performance in a couple of losses, so we need to get that confidence and rhythm back on the offensive end."

Abercrombie's return will undoubtedly aid in that objective. The swingman has enjoyed a rejuvenated season at the offensive end, sitting 15th in the competition with 14.2 points per game to form an enviable one-two punch with Webster (23.9). And while his aggressive approach has often allowed him to reach double-digits in field goal attempts, Abercrombie has a similar aim to his team.

"Consistency is just a big goal -- I want to make sure I'm able to dominate every week," he said. "I definitely think there's another level I can go to, but I'm pretty happy with how I've been playing so far this year."

Abercrombie's solid defence will again be needed against an Adelaide side who, led by outstanding point guard Jerome Randle, boast the league's second-rated offence. Defeat will leave the Breakers in a precarious position ahead of a double-header against the third-placed Hawks.

"There's only 10 games left this season and, being fourth, we'd like a couple more wins on the board," Abercrombie said. "In Adelaide, we have a fifth-place team coming at us, so every game seems to take on that extra bit of significance now.

"We want to be able to hold on to that spot and keep working our way up the ladder, and the only way we're going to do that is by getting some more wins, so we've got to protect our home court."