The following are previews with betting tips for Game 1 of the semi-finals series of the 2019/20 NBL season.
Here we go, only the Kings, the Wildcats, the Taipans and United are left. And gone are Brisbane, NZ, Adelaide, S.E.M and Illawarra. Will the Kings return to their previous glory under the guidance of Will Weaver and a deep, rich squad, or will the Wildcats make it back-to-back titles? Perhaps the Taipans get a maiden one, or do United go one better then last season? Will Ware or Tate be the star of the show, or will the reigning MVP Cotton show up BIG once again? Does Machado work his Rono-like PG magic + maybe Oliver as well, or is Melo Trimble shining under the spot-light? Big baskets, big players and big games. Bring it on already!!!
Friday, February 28
Perth Wildcats v Cairns Taipans
Last RD- Perth ended up finishing the regular season in 2nd place, with Bryce Cotton, their MVP, leading them there. They finished with 19 wins and just 9 defeats to their name. Credit is due, where credit is due, and they’re not done yet in their relentless pursuit of yet another NBL Championship to add to the trophy cabinet! Their latest game was a humiliation of Jerome Randle and Daniel Johnson’s team, as they thrashed the 36ers 94-79. OUCH! They lost Q3, 27-22, but they won all the others. Those scores were 24-18, 23-18 and a clutch 25-16 in Q4. Kay had 23PTS, while both Steindl and Plumlee had 14 each. Wagstaff had 12PTS, Norton 9 and Lo Buluk 8. Kay shot 8/12, as he also had 7REB, 2AST, 3STL and 3BL. Steindl made 4 3’s, as his other stats included 3REB, 1AST, 1STL and 2BL. Plumlee shot 60% from the floor, as he also got 7REB, 3AST and 1BL next to his name. Wagstaff made 5/10 shots of the pine, as his other stats included 2REB, 1STL and 1BL. Norton had 8REB, 5AST and 2STL as well. While for Lo Buluk, he also got 4REB, 1AST and 1BL.
Led by Mike Kelly (COY) at the top, as well as the likes of Machado, Oliver, Newbill, etc, Cairns finished the season very awesomely in 3rd place! With their small budget, holy cows!!! And then some!!! They ended up winning 16 games and losing 12, proving that with enough heart and teamwork, anything is possible. They’ve won over NBL fans hearts far and wide and rightfully so. Their latest game was an unfortunate 124-88 thrashing at the hands of a then finals-desperate Bullets side last round, as they went down by 36 points in the QLD Derby. Cairns won Q2, 30-24. But they lost all the others, 39-15, 34-24 and 26-19! Deng had 20PTS, Oliver 13 and Krslovic 12. Blagojevic also had 8PTS, while both Kenny and Noi had 7 each also. Deng shot 8/13 from the floor as he also had 7REB, 2AST, 1STL and 1BL. Oliver made 4/6 2-point attempts, as he also got 4REB, 1AST and 1BL. For Krslovic, he made a pair of 3’s, to go along with 8REB and 1AST. It’s not how they would’ve wanted to end their more then impressive regular season. But no doubt they’ll be fully prepared and ready to take on the Wildcats in G1 over in Perth. How far can this fairy tale team go?
Key Players- Cotton, Kay, White, Martin, Machado, Oliver, Newbill, etc. There’s just so many amazing players to pick from here. But the key players that will have a massive say on the outcome of this one will have to be Cotton and Martin of the defending champions Wildcats. For Martin, the veteran, the 5X NBL Champion, his experience will be absolutely crucial to Perth in this final’s games and all the other ones they compete in this season as well. He knows how to get it done on both ends of the floor and is an insanely good leader/ future coach. However, his form needs to pick up ASAP in this one to give Perth another good Guard option of the bench. On the season he is averaging just 3.4PPG and shooting 28% from the floor. He should play to his strengths and play more of a distributor role in this one. If he’s able to do that, then Perth will have an exceptional offensive scheme of the bench, if and when they choose to give the likes of Cotton and Kay a bit of a rest. As for Cotton, the reigning NBL MVP, former NBL champ and former NBA player, is averaging an awesome 22.5PPG and 3.7APG this season. We all know what he’s capable of doing! Whether it’s inside or outside, or dishing out the rock to others, Cairns need to do everything possible in their powers to stop him. Foul him a bit early, double-team him and get physical with him. He’s not a big boy, so the physical stuff might rattle him a bit. If not, he’ll more than likely catch fire and Perth will more then likely win. Simple as that!
What Should Happen- The Perth Wildcats have an incredible 9 championships in the trophy cabinet. The Taipans on the other hand have more losses in finals games throughout their history, then they do wins, 9 vs 12. History is strongly against them here. LBJ, Wade and Bosh dominated the NBA. Well Perth’s equivalent of Cotton, Kay and White have been doing the exact same thing to the NBL. They can shoot from deep or close to the paint, slash inside, beat defenders left right and centre, dunk the ball with ease and pass/create scoring opportunities for their teammates, among other things. If they play well collectively, then Perth will be incredibly difficult for the Taipans to beat. No matter how well Cairns might play. And it doesn’t stop there for Perth either, they have strong, experienced players of the bench as well such as Wagstaff and Martin. Steindl and Majok are another two as well. In 2 of his past 10 games, Majok has pulled in 10 boards. In his latest effort, he got 3REB and shot 2/2, despite getting under 9 minutes of playing time. This is just an example of how strong and deep Perth are. And it will work massively in their favour in this one. The odds unfortunately seemed to be stacked against Cairns in G1 of this final’s series.
Betting tip: Pick Perth to be victorious at $1.40 (Bet365)
Also pick Perth to have a -5.5 handicap at $1.90 (UniBet)
Saturday, February 29
Sydney Kings v Melbourne United
Qudos Bank Arena
Last RD- Sydney created their own piece of unique, special history last round. As a result of their 98-82 thrashing of the Hawks at home, their opening round 79-71 away win over Cairns and everything that happened in between, they became the first team in NBL history to be in 1st position every round, throughout the entire season. Hats of to them and ultimately, they never wavered in their pursuit of being the competitions best team! Their regular season record ended with 20 wins and just 8 losses to their name. They won every Q against Illawarra, bar the 4th, which ended 25-24. Every other one they won, 31-26, 26-17 and 17-14. Both Ware and Tate ended up with 19PTS each. While of the bench, Newley had 13PTS and Taylor 12. Ware hit 5 from deep, as he also had 1REB, 3AST and 1STL. Tate hit 77.8% of his shots, as he also got 5REB and 2AST next to his name. Newley shot 6/9 from the court, as he also ended up with 4REB and 3AST. For Taylor, he hit a crazy 7/7 from the line, as his other stats included 5REB and 3AST. All of Lisch, Cooks and Bogut also ended up with 6PTS a piece each.
It took until the final game of the regular season to decide their fate, but in the end, they did what they should’ve done all along, qualify for the finals. Via their 109-90 win over S.E.M at Melbourne Arena, United snuck into 4th spot ahead of the dejected Bullets and Breakers. They ended up with a 15-13 record, the exact same record as the previous two teams mentioned. But other factors meant that they qualified for it at the expense of them. Lucky Melbourne! But not so lucky was their dominant performance over their rivals, which was a dominant game all round from them. They only lost Q2, 22-21. All the others they won, 34-24, 27-26 and 28-17. Of the starters, Goulding posted a HUGE 28PTS! Long also had 21, Barlow 18 and Ili 7PTS. And of the pine, Melo was impactful with 20PTS. Goulding hit 6 3’s, as his other stats included 3REB, 3AST and 3STL. Long made 8/9 FT’s, as he also had 11REB, 1STL and 1BL. Barlow shot 100%, 6/6 from the floor, as he also got 2REB, 1AST and 1STL. Melo shot 3/6 from beyond the arc, as he had 2REB, 4AST and 1STL.
Key Players- Ware and Bruce. Ware is a former NBL MVP and used to ply his trade in the NBA. Bruce on the other hand, makes it seem like a seamless transition whenever the Kings backup PG replaces Casper on the court. Ware is clutch as hell and loves showing up against his former side. Bruce is one of the NBL’s best bench-players and has improved dramatically this season. Ware’s season stats include 19.7PPG and 3.9APG. In his last game against Melbourne, he scored 26PTS and dished out 6 dimes. And in his last game against Illawarra, he hit 5 triples among his other statistics. He will look to terrorize Melbourne in the PG department, especially now so that Melo is no longer starting for them. And as for Bruce, he’s getting 8.2PPG and 3.4APG, while hitting 44.3% of his shots overall. Just three games ago against Perth no less, in just under 20 minutes of play, he shot 3/8 and had 7PTS, 3REB and 5AST. He’ll be key in keeping their scoring going when the big guns come of + creating/dictating on the offensive end as well.
What Should Happen- Last season, a Sydney Kings team led by Jerome Randle lost their opening round finals series heavily, 2-0, to a Melbourne United team led by Casper Ware. Oh, how time changes. And oh, how time flies by. There’s no more Randle, no more Adnam, no more Turner. You get the drift. Instead theirs a historically good team aiming to deliver another Championship to their recently starved Basketball success City. And this season against Melbourne, they won their games 111-101, 104-81 and 106-88. While losing one match to them, 107-104. And that was with Will Weaver missing the entire 2nd half, and they still pushed United all the way in Melbourne. This is a team that owns Melbourne now and is no longer the scared little boys that they were last season and the new kids on the block (in regards to recent NBL finals appearances). Ware, Tate and Bogut constantly light up Qudos Bank Arena. And that’s exactly what those superstars should do to United in this opening game of these two exciting team’s finals series. Melo and Goulding might be United’s only saving grace in this one.
Betting tip: Pick Sydney to be victorious at $1.40 (Bet365)
Best Bet of the Round
Pick the Kings to take out the Championship at $2.60 (SportsBet), this season is theirs for the taking!!!