The NBL Finals are fast approaching and there are many more potentially crucial clashes set to take place in Round 17.
For the first time this season, all five home teams won in Week 16 and there is plenty of value to be found in several teams playing away from home this weekend.
We’re set for an exciting fixture when the Hawks host the Breakers in Illawarra on Friday night. Both clubs were in action only once in Round 16 and will be hoping to take something from this game for different reasons.
For the Hawks, a win here would mean that they are starting to build another positive run of form at a vital part of the season. Two thrashings at the hands of the 36ers in Round 15 were cast aside when they comfortably overcame the Cairns Taipans on Sunday afternoon. The Hawks led that game at every break and completed easily one of their most convincing performances of the year so far.
The Breakers, on the other hand will look at this game as an ideal opportunity to return to winning form following a seventeen-point defeat to the Wildcats in Perth. Despite two consecutive defeats, the Breakers remain in the top four and are in the box seat to claim the last position in this season’s playoffs. They can all but put that to rest with a win two wins over the Hawks this weekend.
The is the first of two games between these two clubs in Round 17 and the Hawks can heap all the pressure onto the Breakers with a win.
The Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers are both well and truly in the fight for top position in the NBL and will meet in a potentially crucial clash on Friday night.
The Wildcats dismantled the Breakers to the tune of seventeen points in Round 17 and they will take plenty of confidence into another game in front of their parochial fans. Bryce Cotton was on fire for Perth, scoring 27 points in a best on court performance. The point guard has been key to his team’s continued success all season and will look to play another big role against the 36ers.
Adelaide were pretty disappointing in their only Round 16 appearance and left Brisbane on the wrong end of a 95-90 score line. That snapped an impressive seven-game winning streak and as a result, it was probably the upset of the season.
Adelaide might not return to winning form in this game, but they tend to respond well to poor performances and they can cover a line currently set at 4.5 points.
Betting suggests that this is the biggest mismatch in Round 19 of the NBL, but if the Bullets can muster a similar performance to last week, they are not without a hope.
The Bullets snapped a seven-game losing streak with a comprehensive win over title contenders Adelaide last weekend, in what was one of their best performances of the season. Perrin Buford led the way for Brisbane, securing a team-high 24 points as well as five rebounds, 2 each of steals, assists and blocks.
Melbourne continue to lead the league in overall standings and made it two from two in Round 16 with wins over Cairns and Sydney respectively. It is starting to look more and more like Melbourne’s title to lose and they are aiming for a fourth-consecutive win here.
The only thing that the Bullets really have to play for is pride and avoiding a second-consecutive wooden spoon, and realistically Melbourne should win this game well.
We are set for an intriguing fixture when the Cairns Taipans host the Sydney Kings at the Snake Pit on Saturday.
Cairns had an opportunity to make inroads on the top four with two games in Round 16, but they failed to take anything from either following comfortable defeats to both Melbourne and Illawarra. The Taipans have played more games than any other team this season but remain sixth overall with a 10-15 record. They are all but out of finals contention and are another club just trying to avoid the spoon.
The Kings have been anchored to the bottom of the ladder all season, but they have managed a few good performances of late. They were comfortably beaten by Melbourne in Round 16, but destroyed Perth twice the week prior.
The Taipans are simply not on the same level as Melbourne United and the Kings can notch another win here, at great odds.
The return leg of Friday Night’s fixture will see the New Zealand Breakers host the Illawarra Hawks in another vital clash for both teams.
It’s pretty much do-or-die for the Hawks at this point, who are 10-12 leading into Round 17 and subsequently three games behind the Breakers, who round out the top four at 13-9. The like of Rotnei Clark, Mitch Norton and AJ Ogilvy will need to be at their best if Illawarra are to win here and go on with the job for the remainder of the season.
While the result of the first game between these two teams will hold some bearing, The Breakers should comfortably win in front of their home fans.
The final game of Round 17 will be a return leg of Friday night’s game between the 36ers and Perth Wildcats, this time in Adelaide.
Adelaide’s record at home has been terrific again this season and they trail only Melbourne United in standings when playing in front of their own fans. The Wildcats record on the road is interestingly less-than convincing and they sit sixth in overall road standings.
I am confident that the 36ers can cover the line as outsiders on Friday and the Wildcats can do the same thing in Adelaide on Sunday.