After 27 games, almost as many fluctuations in form and about the same number of injuries, the Breakers' season all comes down to tomorrow's meeting with Melbourne.

Well, not quite. Even if Paul Henare's men do end the regular season on a winning note at the North Shore Events Centre, they will still face a nervous weekend in front of the television before their playoff fate is discovered.

But the Breakers can't afford to be concerned with the calculations that will determine which of the six contenders will seal the final three post-season spots. Having left themselves relying on other results, there's only one outcome the Breakers can control.

Because while winning will produce uncertainty, a loss against Melbourne will bring finality. They've been ably fighting for their playoff lives since the start of January - going 5-2 after slipping to the bottom of the standings - but defeat tomorrow will see life support switched off.


That win-or-go-home scenario is sure to engender pressure in any player, let alone one who must take the ultimatum literally. But that's the situation facing Kevin Dillard, who is playing to avoid a premature trip back to the United States.

"This could be my last game in New Zealand," the import said. "And I didn't just come out here to play eight or nine games and then go back home. I came out here to make the playoffs and I can't stop until I do.

"It's going to be a big game for the team but I'm going to take that game personally. [Reaching the playoffs] is not a dream - it's more a realistic goal. And I think it would be a big let-down if we didn't make it."

That disappointment would for Dillard be an unwelcome case of deja vu, having fallen from this same precarious position while playing in Greece last season.

Dillard thought his former team, Apollon Patras, failed to cope well enough with the pressurised stakes, failing as a result to earn the final victory they required to book a playoff berth. But the American was confident his new teammates would help him receive some personal retribution this weekend.

"I learnt from that situation and hopefully the lessons that I learnt I can bring to the game and make sure we win this game and make the playoffs," Dillard said. "I think with the poise and the veteran mentality that these guys have got, I don't think the pressure will get to us. We just have to control what we can and fight to the very last second, like we have been."

Indeed, the Breakers have essentially spent the last month in playoff mode, right from when Dillard first arrived to alleviate the club's woes at the point guard position.

He's since proven a capable conductor while driving his side's offence and, needing one more win to reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, the Breakers must feel confident with Dillard's sure hands on the wheel.

"I love the pressure," he said. "I love the situation that we're in right now. I live for this. This is why you put in all the hours in the gym and the off-season. All that hard work pays off right here so I'm ready to step up."