Round 18 of the NBL has it all: Make or Break clashes, Top of the Table clashes AND an Australian Open/Basketball crossover to tip-off the round this Wednesday night.
With only two weeks until the finals begin, this is set to be an epic round of Aussie Hoops and we’ve done all the research and number crunching you need to find yourself a winner.
Here’s a very unique stat I’ve come across when crunching the numbers to write this preview – Perth has lost four of its last five Wednesday games as a favourite.
And guess what? The Wildcats go into this mid-week match between Melbourne United the favourite as the two sides meet at Melbourne Arena for a special Australian Open game.
Is it a trend? Is it just a really unique stat? Only time will tell.
Melbourne United go into this game 11-12, sitting just outside the top four of the NBL ladder on fifth spot.
Melbourne has lost five of their past six matches and facing the Wildcats who are in red-hot form going into the NBL finals ain’t going to be easy, even if there appears to be a trend about Perth playing mid-week.
Along with an away trip to Brisbane this weekend, this weekend could make them or break them for this season.
Melbourne United simply has to win to stay in the hunt and beating a red-hot Wildcats would be just the trick.
Can they do it?
Perth survived a scare and only beat the NZ Breakers on their home deck by one point on Saturday night.
Miles Plumlee and Bryce Cotton were dominant but they couldn’t shrug off the desperate Breakers.
The Wildcats are currently on second on the ladder and need to keep winning to make sure they play finals (which they always do.)
Going purely on form, the Wildcats have won four out of their last five (including last years Grand Final series) and are at good value being a favourite so it’s best to back the Wildcats in this one.
If there’s one team worth watching in the NBL right now – it’s the New Zealand Breakers.
There never seems to be a dull moment with them and it’s hard to believe that they are in the hunt for the top four sitting in 6th place on the Ladder with an 11-12 record. Who would have thought that a month ago?
Their opponent, the Adelaide 36ers are also in a similar position to that of the Breakers needing to win all four of their remaining games with a 15-13 record and they’ll need to win big as the 36ers percentage is rather poor.
Last weekends loss to the Brisbane Bullets by nine points has put a serious dent in the 36ers finals hopes.
Whoever loses this match can start planning Mad Monday and their end of season trip.
Both sides have met three times this season with the 36ers winning two, Breakers one.
Adelaide will go into this game the underdog, which could be a good sign for them with the Underdog winning four out of the last five matches between the two sides.
The 36ers have also won their past two games in New Zealand.
However, with the home court and this being possibly one of the games of the round momentum looks to favour the Breakers- so we’re backing the home team with the half time/full-time lead for some value.
Sitting third on the NBL ladder, the Cairns Taipans go into Friday night’s clash against the bottom of the ladder Illawarra Hawks red-hot favourite and for good reason.
Many have accused the Taipans of being flat-track bullies this season but they managed to get a rare win away from the Snake Pit beating the South East Melbourne Phoenix last Sunday.
This win should give them some confidence going into this clash against the Hawks who have actually had the wood on them in recent times.
Illawarra has won its past nine games against Cairns.
That’s quite the winning streak but the Hawks are also on a six-game losing streak.
You could take the long shot and take the Hawks at $4.90, or be sensible and realize that the Taipans go into this with 14 wins, four matches to go and solid percentage.
Beating the Hawks would be great to break the monkey off the back for them and put them into the NBL finals.
There’s never been a better time to do it and they should be able to get the job done come Friday night.
Australia may never have a Bullet Train so the closest thing we may ever get to it is the momentum of the Brisbane Bullets right now.
Out of the blue, Bullets have risen to fourth on the NBL ladder, playing some excellent Basketball and come off 2-0 after Round 17.
Melbourne United are knocking on the door of the top four and depending on how they fare on Wednesday night this could be an epic encounter and one of the games of the round.
Expect a tight, high scoring contest in this one.
Both the Bullets and Melbourne United average 94 points per game.
It could be easy to go for the line markets instead of an outright winner but there’s real value to be had with Melbourne United to lead at half-time and the Bullets to bring it home with the crowd at “The Armory” right behind them.
A battle between 1st (Sydney Kings) v 2nd (Perth Wildcats) awaits us this Saturday night in what could be a potential Grand Final series preview.
If all goes to script, the Wildcats would go into this game coming off a win against Melbourne United on Wednesday night, but even if they drop it they’ll still be in the top four.
The Kings will travel to Perth fresh after a big win over Melbourne United last weekend with the likes of Casper Ware dominating with a career-high eight three-pointers in the match.
Beating the Perth Wildcats at RAC Arena is one of the toughest tasks in the NBL.
The Wildcats almost were defeated, managing to scrape over the line against the NZ Breakers by a point last Saturday night.
They have an 8-3 record on their home court this season and would love to topple the top of the table Kings just before the finals get underway.
The Sydney Kings don’t mind a road trip either with a 7-5 record this season so it should give them some confidence heading to the West Coast.
With that in mind, while the Kings tend to do fine on the road it’s always best to back the home tea, especially when it’s the Perth Wildcats.
Expect another heart-stopper and the Wildcats to get the job done in a thriller!
The Hawks are not only looking at the shot-clock but they are also counting down as to when this season will end, especially in a post-LaMello Ball world.
There are either two scenarios going into this game for the NZ Breakers – beat the 36ers on Friday night and finals are still a chance, lose and this is pretty much a dead rubber.
If things to according to our tips and the Breakers go into this game with a win over Adelaide on Friday night they’ll see this as a percentage booster to keep their finals hopes alive.
Illawarra could spoil the party, but I just can’t see that happening.
The past five games between the Breakers and the Hawks have been won by a double-digit margin so with that in mind, take New Zealand at the 11+ points.
Round 18 of the NBL finishes up with Adelaide 36ers playing host to the South East Melbourne Phoenix.
Depending on the outcome of Friday night, the match is either going to be Adelaide fighting for a spot in the finals or a dead-rubber.
The inaugural season of the South-East Melbourne Phoenix is over as their two losses last weekend ended their finals hopes.
The new kids on the block started the season in red-hot form winning but have lost 13 out of their past 17 matches and are currently on a four-game losing streak.
These two teams have only met three times previous and all of them have been decided by 10 points or under.
The -3.5 line looks about right so I’ll take the home team in this one.