The 2019 NBL Semi-Finals are officially underway and both series will enter Game 2 over the weekend.
The Perth Wildcats finished the regular season at the top of the table and will take an advantage to Brisbane on Saturday after dismantling the Bullets on Thursday night, while Melbourne United will also look to close out their series against the Kings in Sydney.
As expected, the Wildcats comfortably took Game 1 and with it, a big advantage in Game 2 at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The regular season winners were on fire on Thursday night and their defence was particularly slick; holding the Bullets to 59 points and only four in the final quarter. Bryce Cotton was typically effective when he got his hands on the ball and managed a game-high 22 points, despite having only taken nine shots.
There were glimpses of competitive basketball from the away side, largely as a result of the performance mustered by shooting guard Cam Gliddon in the second quarter.
Ultimately, we saw two completely difference classes of team and it’s tough imagining the Bullets turning around a 30-point deficit on Sunday, even at home. The line is currently set at only one point, though there is also plenty of value remaining for the Wildcats in head-to-head betting.
Wildcats at the Line (-1)
Over 167 Points ($1.91)
United fired a warning shot by comfortably defeating the Kings by 22 points in Game 1 and they will be extremely confident of closing out this three-game series when they land in Sydney on Sunday.
Its been the Casper Ware and Chris Goulding show nearly all season again, and the pair were instrumental in their side’s dismantling of the Kings first-up. The former notched a game-high 22 points and in the process covered his personal points line, while the latter was outstanding off the pine also easily covered his own line, which was set at only 14.5.
Brad Newley led the way for his side with 17 points but ultimately, the Kings never really looked comfortable in offence and were starved out of the game by the red-hot United.
While the Bullets looks like going out in straight sets, I do believe that this series can and will go the distance and the Kings will sneak home in a nail-biter.
Kings at the Line (+1)
Over 168.5 Points ($1.91)
Four teams remain in the hunt for this season’s NBL crown and the semi-finals are underway from Thursday, February 28th.
The Perth Wildcats finished the regular season on top of the table and they will begin their campaign at home against the fourth-placed Brisbane Bullets, while we’re in for a mouth-watering series between Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings.
You can find the first round of NBL semi-finals previews below and we’ll continue to preview each series as it progresses right here on the Neds blog.
Anyone would have been forgiven for assuming that this was the 2019 NBL Grand Final series, given the quality of both Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings and we’re set for a tight and heated contest.
United snuck into second position on the ladder after winning six of their last eight games, but they traded positions with the Kings several times throughout the season and will need to be at their best to keep their season alive. Captain Chris Goulding has led from the front and has been on fire recently, but the effect of players like Casper Ware also cannot be understated.
Obviously, the signing of Andrew Bogut has made a huge difference to the make up of this side and the former NBA star easily led the league in rebounds and blocks per game. The Kings ended the regular season third, with a commendable 18-10 record and they do look like a club that could send coach Andrew Gaze out on a winning note.
United’s home record this season has been excellent, while the Kings away have left a little to the imagination. A three-game series does look like materialising and United draw first blood with a tight win.
Focus shifts to the nation’s west later on Thursday night when the Perth Wildcats attempt to stem the best season that the Brisbane Bullets have produced since re-entering the league.
They absolutely flew the gates and opened a buffer on their rivals, but the Wildcats did fall out of favour and back into the pack through the middle stages of the season. Thankfully for the Perth faithful, they’ve re-gathered the form necessary to go the whole way at the right point of the season and they will be a real handful for the up-and-down Bullets.
It took a couple of lacklustre campaigns, but Brisbane are really starting to realise their potential and are deserving of their finals berth. It really did look like they’d be pipped on the line by Adelaide, but they held their nerve when the 36ers didn’t and will be quietly confident of going on with it.
Little is expected of the Bullets here and they do tend to play well with the pressure off, while they meet a Wildcats side that is potentially wounded after an eleven-point defeat at the hands of Melbourne most-recently.