NBL Cup 2021 Tips & Preview

Brace yourself for a feast of non-stop NBL action as the NBL Cup gets underway!

The NBL Cup will feature all nine teams in 18 doubleheaders over two weeks as Melbourne becomes the centre of the Aussie Basketball universe.

Along with the NBL Cup, these will combine Rounds 6-9 for the 2021 NBL season with every team playing for the Cup and competition points.

All nine clubs are in the running for the NBL Cup, $300,000 of prize money and every game will also count towards the 2021 NBL season.

We’re hoping to make this festival of hoops a profitable one for the punters, so be sure to check out our daily NBL Cup tips throughout the tournament.

ROUND 8 – Saturday, March 6

Adelaide 36ers v Cairns Taipans
Adelaide 36ers @ $2.15

One of the truly great things about the NBL Cup has been the fact that any team can win on their day.

That was very much the case for the Cairns Taipans when veteran Nate Jawai turned back the clock and inspired the Snakes to a 96-92 victory on Thursday night.

Can the Taipans make it two in a row against the 36ers?

On the form, you’d have to say yes.

The 36ers have lost five out of their past six and bar Josh Giddey can look a sad and sorry sight at times.

With this being the case now that they’ve been written off – Adelaide will probably go on and win this.

Both sides will have had 48 hours to back it up.

A real toss of the coin and I haven’t backed an underdog for a while, so I’ll back Adelaide.


South East Melbourne Phoenix v Sydney Kings
Sydney Kings @ $2.05

Here’s a little tidbit for you – The underdog has won five of South East Melbourne’s last seven games.

The underdog in this game – the Sydney Kings, who were stunned by the Cairns Taipans going down 92-96 in a thriller on Thursday night.

South East Melbourne Phoenix had lost a close one to the Perth Wildcats 92-93 in an absolute heartstopper, but they are the favourite.

However, this Saturday of the NBL Cup is the day of the underdog.

Sydney Kings for the win.

Friday March 4

Perth Wildcats 1-10 @ $2.60

After surviving a scare from the South East Melbourne Phoenix, the Perth Wildcats will have just 48 hours to back it up as they take on the Brisbane Bullets.

The Wildcats dominated in the first half but allowed a 16 point halftime lead to evaporate before holding on to win by just a single point.

Yet again it was the one and only Bryce Cotton leading the way with 28 points.

A win is a win and a character-building one at best.

The Perth Wildcats have won their past four matches, all on the road in Melbourne in the NBL Cup.

Brisbane goes into this game having lost a close one to the resurgent New Zealand Breakers.

The Bullets were able to get back in the game after trailing by 20 points, but it was very much a case of too little, too late.

This will be the first time these two sides have met this season.

It’s very hard to go past the Wildcats, and despite the scare given to them on Wednesday night, they should be able to bank another win over the Bullets to make it five on the trot.

Melbourne United 1-10 @ $2.50

I didn’t think I’d be writing this a few days ago but are the New Zealand Breakers a chance to topple Melbourne United?

New Zealand is coming off back-to-back wins after holding off the Brisbane Bullets 97-92 on Wednesday night.

Currently sitting in eighth spot, the Breakers who are having to endure a never-ending road trip this season have come into good form.

We’ll find out if they’ve gotten their act together or just having a purple patch when they take on the top-of-the-table Melbourne United.

Melbourne United have lost just one match this season and will have fresh legs going into this game having held off the Sydney Kings with a 3 point win last Saturday night.

They should win this one, but I’m backing it to be close and will gladly take the 1-10 point margin.

ROUND 8 – Thursday, March 4

Sydney Kings (-3.5) @ $1.90

Sydney will go into this game against the Taipans as the clear favourite and rightfully so.

Cairns has gone from the darlings of the NBL 2020 season to the ugly ducking of 2021 and developing a somewhat reputation as the easy beats of the competition.

The Taipans are yet to win a game so far in the NBL cup tournament and are coming off a comprehensive 115-95 belting at the hands of the Brisbane Bullets in their most recent match, the game being high-scoring seems to be the only positive to take out of it.

Currently sitting 7th on the NBL ladder, the Sydney Kings will see this as a must-win game to get back into playoff contention.

Their recent form line has been win-loss-win-loss, and they took it all the way against Melbourne United going down 3-1.

On the form and trends alone the Sydney Kings should pencil this in as a win.

The line has been set at -3.5 and they should easily beat it.

Illawarra Hawks v Adelaide 36ers
Illwarra Hawks (-5.5) @ $1.90

Both Illawarra and Adelaide will be desperate to get back on the winner’s list and this meeting between the two should be an absolute beauty.

Despite a dream start to the season, Brian Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks have had a rough patch of recent having only won one of their past four games, but you would fancy them against the 36ers.

Did the 36ers even show up last time?

Adelaide suffered a record 62-106 belting at the hands of the New Zealand Breakers of all sides in an insipid performance.

Surely they can’t do any worse then what was dished up last Saturday?

This will be the first meeting between the two teams for this season and with no home-court advantage and both with a poor run of form, the game should be closer than the market suggests.

However, there’s still a lot to like about the Hawks and the line being set at -5.5, I’d expect them to still beat it.


ROUND 8 – Wednesday, March 3 

Brisbane Bullets / Over 176.5 @ $3.20

The NBL Cup rolls on with the Breakers taking on the Bullets in what is also the first match of Round 8.

The Brisbane Bullets have really found their mojo in recent weeks having won three out of their past four and managed to conjure up some big wins over the Cairns Taipans in the Sunshine Stouch and the Illawarra Hawks in the space of 48 hours.

Brisbane could not have been more impressive in their recent NBL Cup hit out and completely dominated against the Taipans from start to finish in what was arguably the Bullets best performance of the season.  The hub life appears to be doing them well.

Currently sitting in fifth place on the NBL ladder, the Bullets will fancy their chances against the Breakers to storm into the top 4 / playoff contention.

While the Brisbane Bullets will go into this game favourites, New Zealand will take in plenty of confidence heading into this clash.

The Breakers smashed the Adelaide 36ers 106-62 in one of the most remarkable displays you will see in an NBL game.

After losing their previous four games by double-figure margins, this display by the Breakers was truly something to behold. Everything seemed to click.

The 44 point margin was the biggest win in the New Zealand Breakers history.

Can they back it up against an up-and-about Bullets?

This game is set to be a beauty and high-scoring. I’ll take the Bullets and the over for a bit of value.


Perth Wildcats 1-10 @ $2.65

Yet another clash between the Wildcats and Phoenix is on the cards, in fact this will be the fifth time these two sides have met this season.

Currently, the record stands at two wins each.

They both know each other so well.

Perth is arguably the inform team of the NBL Cup going 3-0 in the tournament and the Phoenix will have plenty of confidence having easily knocked of the Illawarra Hawks.

The State Basketball Centre is the venue and it’s technically a Perth “home” game, but it will be played deep in the Phoneix heartland.

It should be a cracking contest, but it’s very hard to go past an inform Wildcats who looked destined to play in the finals for the 356th year running.

A Wildcats win at the 1-10 margin is a good value play.

Sunday, 28th February

South East Melbourne Phoenix @ $2.05

Both the Phoenix and Hawks will look to bounce back after both suffering losses in their recent NBL Cup hit outs.

The South East Melbourne Phoenix are coming off a narrow 94-99 loss to the Adelaide 36ers on Tuesday night, and the Illawarra Hawks also suffered a somewhat surprising defeat at the hands of the Brisbane Bullets 91-97.

Prior to their loss to the 36ers, South East Melbourne have started to really get their season on track winning back-to-back games for the first time in 2021 with convincing wins over the Wildcats and Bullets but currently sit 4th on the NBL table with 5 wins 5 losses.

There has been so much to like about Brian Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks this season.

After winning their first four games – all on the road the team has now lost four of their past six games and they will be hurting from their narrow defeat from the Brisbane Bullets on Friday night.

They will have 48 hours to back it up, and the Phoneix will go into this game with fresh legs and home-court advantage.

Those two things are very hard to pass at, and I’ll take South East Melbourne at the $2.05 on offer in the head to head betting.

Over 175.5 @ $1.90

The Sunshine Stouch arrives on neutral grounds as the Bullets take on the Taipans in the second of today’s doubleheader at John Cain Arena.

Both teams will have 48 hours to back it up from Friday night in a must-win NBL Cup clash.

The Brisbane Bullets will take plenty of confidence heading into this edition of the Sunshine Stouch having produced a thrilling 97-91 win over the Illawarra Hawks. The Bullets are currently 4-5 this season, but 1-1 in the NBL Cup.

Cairns started their NBL Cup campaign well with a solid win over the Hawks but have gone on to suffer defeat at the heads of Melbourne United and were handed a convincing 20 point defeat against the Perth Wildcats on Friday night.

The darlings of last season now have a 3-9 record coming into this NBL Cup clash and a win over the Bullets would do a lot to get their season back on track.

When these two met earlier in the season, it resulted in an overtime thriller with the BUllets getting the win by two points in a high-scoring affair.

I’m expecting similar today at John Cain Arena and am backing the overs.

Saturday, 28th February 

Adelaide 36ers v New Zealand Breakers
Adelaide 36ers 11+ @$3.50

The 36ers will go in clear favourites ahead of their clash with the New Zealand Breakers at John Cain Arena.

Adelaide will have just 48 hours to back it up from their 73-82 loss to Melbourne United on Thursday night.

Trailing by 26 points at one stage of the game the 36ers inspired by Josh Giddey clawed their way back into the game resulting in a thrilling finish.

The New Zealand Breakers are currently on a four-game losing streak and are quickly developing a reputation as the NBL’s easy beats.

When these two sides met earlier in the season, Josh Giddey put on a show and was just two assists shy of a triple-double. He is one to most certainly consider in a same game multi.

It’s hard to make a case for the Breakers in this one and you should expect the 36ers to chalk up a much-needed win to get their season back on track.

Melbourne United v Sydney Kings
Melbourne United (-4.5) @ $1.90

It’s always a spirited contest when Melbourne United takes on the Sydney Kings and this Saturday night’s clash between the two sides will add yet another chapter in this great rivalry.

Both teams will back it up 48 hours later after playing on Thursday night.

Melbourne United simply keeps on keeping on having chalked up yet another win on Thursday night over the Adelaide 36ers and is currently sitting very comfortably on top of the NBL ladder with 8 wins, 1 loss.

The Sydney Kings easily accounted for the poor old New Zealand Breakers with a convincing 96-78 win after a slow start.

Casper Ware continues to dominate with 19 points, five assists, four rebounds and is always one to keep in mind if you fancy a Same Game Multi.

Along with Ware, Jordan Hunter got nine from nine and Dejan Vasiljevic managed his career double-double. Kings fans got plenty out of this one.

This will be the first time that these two have met this season and with home-court advantage, a rare factor during the NBL Cup period along with their dominance, back Melbourne United to beat the line.

Friday, February 26

Illawarra Hawks (-4.5) @ $1.90

We start our Friday NBL Cup doubleheader with the Bullets taking on the Illawarra Hawks on John Cain Arena.

The Brisbane Bullets are coming off a heavy 83-99 defeat from the South East Melbourne Phoenix, after being blown away in the last quarter.

The scores were level at half-time, and Brisbane only trailed by two points at three-quarter time./

With the hectic non-stop schedule the NBL Cup delivers, the Brisbane Bullets will be thankful for the four-day break heading into this game.

Brisbane currently sits 7th on the NBL ladder with 3 wins, 5 losses and desperately need to chalk up the wins if they want to be in contention for playoffs this season.

Brian Goorjian’s boys go into this game after handing the NZ Breakers a good old-fashioned 102-88 shellacking.

The Hawks meant business as they dominated from start to finish.

Currently sitting second on the table with 6 wins, 3 losses – there is so much to like about this team right now.

Illawarra has already gotten the job done over the Bullets twice this season, with an average winning margin of seven points.

The line has been set at -4.5 in favour of Illawarra, they should easily beat it and get the job done in skipper AJ Ogilvy’s 150th game.

Under 171.5

This is a must-win clash for the Cairns Taipans as they take on the Perth Wildcats tonight.

The Wildcats are currently sitting second last on the NBL ladder (8th) with a 3-7 record, with the top 4 looking a long way away from the darlings of last seasons competition.

Cairns were highly competitive in their most recent match against Melbourne United, going down to them 81-88, but also conjured up a huge 101-95 win over the Illawarra Hawks just 48 hours prior. This is a team that is capable to beat anyone on their day, but they are currently on a quest for consistency.

Perth will take plenty of confidence going into this game, having beaten the Sydney Kings 113-106 in a spiteful match between last years Grand Finalists.

This will be the first time these two sides have met in NBL season 2021.

Between the two sides, both teams average game points is 165 from their past 10 matches.

With the under/over set at 171.5 – I’ll go the unders in this one.

Thursday, February 25th 

Sydney Kings vs New Zealand Breakers
Sydney Kings (-3.5) @ $1.90

The Sydney Kings will have just 48 hours recovery after going down to the Perth Wildcats 106-113 in what was a spirited and fiery clash.

It was a spirited comeback from the Kings in the final quarter, after being down by 15 points with an 11 point burst from Casper Ware saw them cut the margin to just three points with 25 seconds remaining, however, Sydney could not get closer, missed a pair of three-pointers in the final seconds and the Wildcats were able to finish off the job. It was one of the games so far in the NBL Cup.

The Kings are currently 4-5 this season so far and sitting on 6th spot on the NBL table, while New Zealand are sitting 9th with 1 win-5 loss they shouldn’t be underestimated.

The Breakers suffered a 88-102 loss at the hands of the Illawarra Hawks and prior to the NBL Cup getting underway, went down to the Sydney Kings 84-74.

While everyone is hubbing-it-up in Melbourne right now, the Breakers are on the road for the entire season so it’s understandable as to why New Zealand might be doing it a bit tough this season.

On paper and form the Kings will be simply too good for the Breakers, I just can’t see an upset happening.

The line has been set at -3.5 in favour of the Kings in this match, and they should easily beat it.

Adelaide 36ers v Melbourne United
Melbourne United 1-10 @ $2.60

The 36ers “host” Melbourne United at John Cain Arena.

Normally, home-court advantage is a big deal in the world of NBL, however, this is a rare occasion away court advantage comes into play.

After suffering a rare loss on the Saturday to the Wildcats, Melbourne United backed it up on Monday and handed a 88-81 defeat to the Cairns Taipans on Monday night.

The Adelaide 36ers will have 48 hours to back it up and will take plenty of confidence heading into this game after a thrilling 99-94 win over the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Adelaide has a 6-5 record this season, with all eyes on young NBA prospect Josh GIddey in pretty much every game they play.

This will be only the second time these two sides have met this season, when Melbourne United blitzed the 36ers back in Round 1 89-65

This game will have some terrific matchups on the court and will be close, however, it’s hard to go past the “away” team in this one.

NBL Cup Week 1 Tips 

Cairns Taipans v Illawarra Hawks
Illawarra 1-10 @ $2.10

With their name restored and coming off a thrilling win over the old arch-rival in the Sydney Kings, confidence is at an all-time high for Brian Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks.

They go in the favourite ahead of the NBL Cup opener against the Cairns Taipans in Melbourne.

It’s yet again another emotional homecoming for coach Brian Goorjian as he returns to John Cain Arena (known as Hisense back in the day) -the one-time home of where he took the South Dragons to ultimate glory in the NBL, only to have the club disband.

Just about every week, we can make a connection for a Goorjian homecoming, and we will.

The Cairns Taipans have had a tough start to their 2021 NBL campaign and they’ll want to make the most of the Hub Life if they are to give their season a much needed shot in the arm.

Cairns had the week off last week as their game against Melbourne United was postponed.

Sitting second last on the ladder with a 2-6 record, the Snakes are yet to reach that exciting form we saw that saw them have a serious crack at the NBL title.

They will have fresh legs and in their most recent match, they managed to get the job done over the NZ Breakers 85-79.

Illawarra and Cairns have met twice this season already with the Hawks winning both by an average of 18 points.

There’s so much to like about the Hawks this season, but I think Cairns are still a team not to be underestimated.

Take the Illawarra Hawks at the 1-10 margin.

Melbourne United (-4.5) @ $1.90

The all-conquering, undefeated, juggernaut that is Melbourne United takes on the Perth Wildcats, and it goes without saying United are red-hot favourites in this one.

Many NBL pundits have United to win the NBL Cup tournament and the competition this season, some have even suggested they won’t lose a game.

Melbourne United are currently 6-0 this season and will come up fresh when they got the weekend off after their match against Cairns last weekend was postponed.

Perth goes into this game coming off a disappointing 71-96 belting from the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

The Wildcats started the game with a 9-0 run, before allowing the South East Melbourne Phoenix to run away with the game.

Bryce Cotton was a standout in a rough day for the Wildcats with 15 points and a career-high nine assists, he’s always one to consider for the Same Game Multi whenever the Wildcats are involved.

With a string of games at home, Melbourne United are well placed to take all before them.

They’ll complete the first step this Saturday with a win over the Wildcats.

I’ll keep it simple and take them at the line (-4.5)

South East Melbourne Phoenix 1-10 @ $2.50

This game should be a beauty.

Both the Phoenix and Bullets were able to turn it around from disappointing starts in their respective back-up games last weekend.

The Bullets turned things around in style in Adelaide on Monday, bouncing back to beat the 36ers 93-74, after being on the receiving end of a similar belting by the same team 24 hours beforehand.

South East Melbourne Phoenix produced a 56 point turnaround in their return match over the Wildcats last weekend.

The Phoenix lost by 31 points on Thursday night, only to beat them a couple of days later by 25 points.

Now, these two meet in their first NBL Cup match this Sunday and it’s very much a case of which team will show up.

We can only hope that it’s both Phoenix and the Bullets at their best.

These two sides are yet to play against each other this season and it will hopefully be a thriller.

I’ll take the Phoenix at the 1-10 margin for a bit of value.

Over 169.5 Points @ $1.90

The John Cain Arena crowd is in for a treat for the second leg of the Sunday NBL Cup doubleheader with the matchup of Casper Ware’s Sydney Kings taking on Josh Giddey’s Adelaide 36ers.

Sydney is coming off a close loss to the Illawarra Hawks – going down by 3 points in a thriller.

Adelaide went from belting Brisbane on Saturday away, and then got belted by Brisbane on the Monday in the return game at home.

The 36ers will be glad there won’t be any double-ups in the NBL Cup, as they have struggled in the second half against the same opponents all season.

Variety is the spice of life in the case of the Adelaide 36ers.

These two sides have met twice already this season with both teams gaining 1 win between them.

If the likes of Giddey and Ware put on a show, I expect this game to be high-scoring.

Both sides have a combined game points average of 186, so I’ll take them the over 169.5 points in this one.

Illawarra Hawks v NZ Breakers
The Hawks (-3.5) @ $1.90

Brian Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks will have only 48 hours to back it up from a disappointing loss to the Cairns Taipans as they face the NZ Breakers as the NBL Cup continues at John Cain Arena.

Illawarra will rue the missed opportunity, as they allowed the Cairns Taipans to go on a late scoring spree and poor defensive lapses resulting in their third loss in four games.

Third quarters are becoming somewhat of

Deng Deng has been in good form for the Hawks recently, scoring a career-high 17 points with 5 rebounds and is one to consider in your same game multis.

The New Zealand Breakers have had a tough run this season.

Currently sitting bottom of the NBL ladder, the Breakers are a better team than the ladder suggests and given they are on the road for the entire season – you do have to cut them some slack.

Given New Zealand have not played for 10 days and Illawarra’s are playing their second game in just 48 hours the Breakers will have plenty of fresh legs going into this one.

On the form, you simply have to back Illawarra in this one.

I’ll take them to beat the line.

Melbourne United v Cairns Taipans
Melbourne United 1-10 @ $2.65

After a nail-biting 85-89 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday night, Melbourne United back it up 48 hours later and face the Cairns Taipans.

Melbourne United and Cairns have a reputation for producing some great contests of recent, and this game should be a beauty.

Back in Round 2, United defeated the Snakes by two points at the old Bunnings Warehouse and they key matchups between Melbourne’s Jock Landale and Cairns Cam Oliver will be one to look out for.

Jock Landale was amongst United’s best with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks – one almost certainly to consider for your Same Game Multi.

Cairns will go into this match taking in plenty of confidence with a big 101-96 win over the Illawarra Hawks on Saturday.

Scott Machado starred for the Taipans with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, another player to keep an eye on if you take a trip to multi town.

The Taipans also currently have three players all averaging three points per game, Kouat Noi (12.4 points per game), Majok Deng (11.6 points) and Mirko Djeric (11.5 points) and Melbourne United will have their work cut out for them.

After a tough start to the year, the Cairns are on the improve with a 3-6 record.

However, on current form you simply can’t go past Melbourne United.

I’ll back them in a close one.

Sydney Kings v Perth Wildcats
Sydney Kings (-1.5) @ $1.95

It’ll be on for young and old as last years Grand Finalists meet for the very first time.

Emotions have run high going into this game, with the Sydney Kings owner and chairman Paul Smith telling The Australian “The Wildcats didn’t win it – it was given to them.”

You may recall that Perth was leading 2-1 over the Kings in the best-of-five Grand Final series last year before the NBL cancelled it due to the COVID19 outbreak resulting in the league giving the Wildcats the championship by default.

There will be some serious rivalry in this contest and it will be fascinating to see how they match up on neutral territory.

The Sydney Kings have waited for the day they next face the Wildcats and will take plenty of confidence after handing out a 94-77 thrashing to the Adelaide 36ers in their opening game of the NBL Cup.

It was the Casper Ware show, as the veteran dominated with 23 points, three rebounds, two assists and hit three triples in a row as the Kings went on a 19-0 blitz during the third quarter.

Perth will also fancy their chances, having toppled the previously unbeaten Melbourne United 95-85, with Bryce Cotton putting on a masterclass that included back-to-back triples to ensure the win.

However, Cotton is in doubt going into this match which can put a serious dent in the Wildcats hopes.

Cotton has averaged 23.67 points per game this season and is the NBL’s leading scorer. No Cotton. No Perth.

This game will be a beauty and there’s no doubting the Sydney Kings have had this pencilled down for a while.

It’s hard to go past them.



Adelaide 36ers v South East Melbourne Phoenix
South East Melbourne Phoenix 1-10 @ $2.50

An interesting clash awaits us with the Adelaide 36ers taking on the South East Phoenix.

The Phoenix head into their second game of the NBL Cup after a terrific 99-33 win over the Bullets.

Adelaide has had just under 48 hours to recover from a 77-94 loss dished out by the Sydney Kings.

The 36ers were able to put together a strong first half but were blown away by Sydney when the likes of Casper Ware went on a second-half blitz.

Currently sitting 5th on the NBL ladder with 5 wins, 5 losses the 36ers have still had a very impressive start to the year, given many pundits had written them off.

It was the Mitch Creek show a the Phoneix responded from being 16 points down, going on to win 99-83 over the Brisbane Bullets.

Both the 36ers and Phoenix have met twice this season, with each team splitting the difference.

Adelaide will most certainly want to improve but there’s a lot to like about the South East Melbourne Phoenix right now.

Expect the Phoenix to get the win in this one, the 1-10 margin seems about right.