The following are previews with betting tips for Round 1 of the 2017/18 NBL season.
Thursday, October 5
Adelaide 36ers v Melbourne United
General Statistic: The last time these two teams met was back in Round 13 of last season. That day Melbourne won by 31 points in a 104-73 victory.
Pre-Game Lead-Up: Adelaide were the best of the best of the regular 2016/17 NBL season claiming the top seed. Then they flopped in the finals, going down 2-1 to Illawarra in the first round. While for Melbourne they were the top seed the season before and were expected to do big things, being led by superstars such as Casper Ware and Chris Goulding. But they bumbled their way along to a poor 6th place finish, ahead of only the struggling Kings and Bullets. Both clubs have big ambitions this year and will be looking to stake their claim as NBL title favourites in this opening day affair.
What Should Happen: Despite the differences in ladder positions last season for both clubs, Melbourne appear to have the strongest team in the NBL on paper while for Adelaide they are expected to finish closer to the bottom of the table this season than the top. Melbourne, led by numerous attacking threats such as Casper Ware (All-NBL First Team; 2017), Chris Goulding (NBL Scoring Champion; 2014) and David Andersen (5x Gold Medal winner with the Boomers), should come away with a comfortable win against the 36ers.
Betting tip: Melbourne should have this encounter comfortably wrapped up by the end of the 3rd quarter. Expect that to be the highest scoring at $4.50 (William Hill).
Friday, October 6
Cairns Taipans v Illawarra Hawks
General Statistic: In the first week of the NBL playoffs last season, the Taipans were eliminated by the Wildcats. The week after, the Hawks were also eliminated by the Wildcats.
Pre-Game Lead-Up: During the off-season, Cairns lost the ever-influential Travis Trice to Brisbane. But in exchange gained Dayshon Smith, a man who last season averaged 13.8ppg, 4.5ast, and 3.1rpg per game for the Dayton Flyers. He will be a crucial piece for the Taipans if they wish to replicate their second place finish of last season. While for Illawarra, Rotnei Clarke should again be an important player in their push for the finals. The former NBL MVP averaged 17.4ppg for the Hawks last season and has a bit of Klay Thompson in him with his three-point shooting ability. This guard battle should prove to be a tantalising match-up. Whoever wins this battle will go a long way towards getting the win for their team.
What Should Happen: A closely contested clash. Last season the Taipans were involved in 18 games decided by 10 points or less, as were the Hawks. Both sides on paper also look relatively even. Finally both sides also featured in the playoffs last season, making this clash the game of the round. Whether it’s the Taipans newbies impressing or the Hawks hitting threes like there’s no tomorrow, this game is not to be missed.
Betting tip: Cairns by 1-10 at $2.70 (Ladbrokes)
Saturday, October 7
Sydney Kings v Adelaide 36ers
General Statistic: Last season Sydney’s top rebounder was Greg Whittington with 6.4 per game. For Adelaide it was Daniel Johnson with 7.1 per game.
Pre-Game Lead-Up: For Sydney they come into this match on the back of their historic game against Utah in Salt Lake City. The Jazz were too overpowering for them, coming away from the international-flavored match up 108-83 winners. But the Kings did their fans back home proud. Kevin Lisch was one particular standout performer for Sydney and is primed to have a big game and an even bigger season. For Adelaide this will be their second game in three days but coach Joey Wright will have them prepared as best as possible for this match with the Kings.
What Should Happen: Jerome Randle, the league MVP for last season is gone and with that, so are Adelaide’s hopes of winning this game. Randle moved to the Turkish Basketball First League in the off-season, meaning others will have to step up to fill the void he’s left. While for Sydney they should be able to exploit this positional battle through the likes of the previously mentioned Kevin Lisch, Jason Cadee (current NBL three-point champion) and new import Travis Leslie (ex-Clipper). This should be one of the ways in which Sydney dominates the game.
Pick Sydney to win at $1.65 (Sportsbet)
Betting tip: Both sides could prove to be a bit rusty in the first quarter. Pick the second one to be the highest scoring at $4.00 (William Hill)
Perth Wildcats v Brisbane Bullets
General Statistic: The last time these two teams faced off was in Round 18 last season. That clash produced a 31-point Perth win in a 94-63 scoreline.
Pre-Game Lead-Up: It’s the best of the best vs the worst of the worst. Last season Perth claimed their eighth championship while Brisbane finished eighth in their first season back in the league. Perth come into this game full of confidence about having yet another successful season while for Brisbane it’s all about improving this year so that they can feature in the playoffs, a realistic goal for a club with three championships to their name. Both sides feature prominent scorers in the likes of Bryce Cotton (current NBL Grand Final MVP) and Travis Trice (14.6ppg last season). This means that protecting the paint is a must, whoever wins the battle inside will most likely win the game given that both sides have capable scorers.
What Should Happen: The unexpected. First games can always throw up a few surprises given both teams are coming into it from their pre-seasons. The Bullets have made some solid off-season acquisitions including the addition of Trice and Stephen Holt, a player who won the 2016/17 ACB title and previously played for Melbourne United early in his career. Brisbane are a much improved side this season and will prove to be a tough side for opposition teams to play. The Bullets should claim an upset win over in Perth.
Pick Brisbane to win at $3.05 (Sportsbet)
Betting tip: Brisbane at a +5.5 handicap at $1.95 (UniBet)
Sunday, October 8
New Zealand Breakers v Cairns Taipans
General Statistic: The Breakers were founded in 2003 and have four Championships, while the Taipans were founded four years earlier in 1999 and have zero.
Pre-Game Lead-Up: From up North to an entirely different country is the very harsh reality facing Aaron Fearne and his men. They will have played the Hawks just two days earlier while for New Zealand this game represents their opening clash of the season. For the Breakers they come into this match on the back of a disappointing 5th place finish last season. For New Zealand the debut of Devonte Newbill is highly anticipated. In the 2015-16 FIBA Europe Cup he averaged 13.0ppg, 2.4apg and 2.3rpg. Expect him to light up the Spark Arena in this encounter.
What Should Happen: Home ground advantage coming into play. No team enjoys playing the Breakers in New Zealand, while many hate it. It’ll be hard enough for Cairns playing their second in three days but a raucous home crowd shouldn’t make it any easier to bear for last year’s second seeded team. The Breakers should win this game comfortably within an expected margin of 11-15 points.
Pick New Zealand to win at $1.77 (Ladbrokes)
Best Bet of the Round
Pick a -2.5 handicap on Sydney at $1.90 (PalmerBet)