It’s the final regular round of the NBL season before the finals get underway and all six games will have some sort of impact in exactly how the final four will take shape.
The top three is all but confirmed but the New Zealand Breakers, Brisbane Bullets and Melbourne United are all vying for fourth spot and there are many different scenarios at play as to who will take it by the end of this weekend.
Round 20 is going to go down to the wire and we’ve got our unique tips and insight ahead of an epic weekend of hoops right here.
Melbourne United play their first of two must-win games if they are any chance to make the finals against the Cairns Taipans this Thursday night at the newly named “John Cain Arena”.
It’s a pretty simple yet do or die scenario for Melbourne United – win and they still have a chance to play finals, lose – and they can rely on a number of results to go their way or just book their Mad Monday.
The market has Melbourne United favourite going into this game but recent trends have the underdog winning the last four games between these two sides.
The underdog has been the Cairns Taipans in all four of those encounters and they have beaten United all three times these sides have met during season 2019-20.
Melbourne United have been on some serious downhill skiing that’s usually not seen in the Southern Hemisphere in the latter half of the season having only won three of their last eight and two of those wins being against the wooden spooners – the Illawarra Hawks.
United will be desperate to win this but the current form line suggests the Taipans – who are finals bound sitting 3rd on the table should be able to put an end to Melbourne’s season and are at excellent underdog odds.
Back the Taipans to win.
The New Zealand Breakers have plenty of momentum going their way but it’s going to be a nervous weekend for the boys from across the ditch regarding their finals chances.
Firstly, they need to beat South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday night and secondly, they can still win this and not play finals as the end result is in the hands of the NBL Gods.
Ideally, the Breakers need Cairns to beat Melbourne United the night before, beat the Phoenix on Friday night and hope that the Bullets don’t beat Cairns by 20+ points.
Either way, it’s been quite the effort from the New Zealand Breakers who were the competitions cellar-dwellers only a few months ago.
Fortunately, facing the Phoenix who is on a five-game losing streak and missing their star Mitch Creek along with what’s at stake – you should pencil in a Breakers win and a nervous wait over the weekend for them.
Unless the Illawarra Hawks smash the Sydney Kings in this game, the Kings would give up top spot on the NBL Ladder to the Wildcats.
But like Fetch, it isn’t going to happen.
The horror season comes to an end for the Hawks this Friday night and while they’d love to finish on a high beating their rivals from up the road the form line suggests otherwise, especially given that the Illawarra Hawks have lost their last nine matches.
All we can hope for in this one is that Illawarra shows some ticker but the line of (-13.5) sounds about right and its best the take the Kings to cover it with them being at Winx-like odds to win this match.
Queensland is more divided on this than the issue of the Adani Mine and Daylight Savings in the leadup to the biggest Sunshine Stoush in the history of Basketball in the Sunshine State.
Depending on other results prior to the game, the fate of the Brisbane Bullets finals chances could have already been sorted depending on what happens in the NZ Breakers v Phoenix game the night beforehand.
That being said, Brisbane did blow their chances of sealing a spot in the NBL finals last weekend with a loss to the NZ Breakers and their fate is also in the hands of the NBL gods.
Cairns will have to back it up from Friday night and Brisbane could have everything to play for especially if somehow other results fall in their favour, stranger things have been known to happen.
The home team has also won the last six Sunshine Stoushes so for what it’s worth – I’m backing the Bullets in a close one.
Death, taxes and the Perth Wildcats playing in another NBL finals campaign.
The Wildcats should have second spot all but sewn up but in the unlikely event that the Illawarra Hawks smash the Sydney Kings they could be playing for the top spot, but there’s an emphasis on unlikely.
A mediocre and disappointing season comes to an end for the Adelaide 36ers on Saturday night in Perth and with the Wildcats getting good at exactly the right time and haven’t lost at home since Christmas time.
While the 36ers have had some good form against the Wildcats winning 10 of their last 15, the most they have to look forward to here is the season-ending and perhaps hitting up Northbridge or Crown Perth after the game.
The final game of the regular NBL season finishes off with the fourth edition of “The Throwdown”.
“The Throwdown” was a regular occurrence during the start of the season when they met three times in the first seven rounds, including when the Phoenix beat United in the first round 91-98. Melbourne United have gone on to win the next two.
Depending what happens on Thursday night and a number of other results, United could be playing for a spot in the finals or perhaps it’s a case of playing for pride.
There’s no doubt that South East Melbourne Phoenix would love to spoil any chance Melbourne United has of playing finals.
With both teams having to back it up from games on Thursday and Friday, we could be in for a decent contest with pride at stake.
Take the half-time/full-time with United winning to keep it interesting.