The following are previews with betting tips for the semi-finals series of the 2017/18 NBL season.
Saturday, March 3
Melbourne United v New Zealand Breakers
What’s Happened On The Court: The first of a minimum of four NBL semi-finals games starts of with an absolute cracker of a match between 1st placed Melbourne and 4th placed New Zealand.
Melbourne despite the fact that in 3 of their past 4 games they’ve overcome their opposition for this game twice and Perth once, their final match of the regular season was a disappointing 10 point loss to Illawarra. They got outscored in 3 of the 4 quarters and to top it all of, they put up only 14 points in the 4th quarter. Tai Wesley shot 6-9 for 14 points. He also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. While Josh Boone also shot an impressive 6-7 for 14 points, 3 boards and 3 dimes. Chris Goulding also poured in 13 points, while hitting a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc. Coming of the bench as a part of Melbourne’s second unit, David Barlow scored 9 points, while Casey Prather had 6.
For the Breakers, they head into this Round One finals match-up having lost their past four games straight. Two of those were to Melbourne with the average margin of victory for the opposition being 12 points. While they also lost to the Hawks. And in their final game, they ensured that it would be four defeats on the trot going down to Sydney 101-86. In this match they were lit up by a combined 48 points from Jerome Randle and Jason Cadee, while in the first and fourth quarters respectively, they could put up only 17 and 18 points. While in the second and fourth quarters they gave up 28 and 33 points. Despite the loss, the majority of those that stepped onto the court for the away side scored in double-figures. Ili and Loe both had 13, while Abercrombie and Newbill both scored 11. While coming of the bench, Ngatai led all players with 17 points and Christmas put up 13. A special shout out to Abercrombie, who’s stats included a monster 3 blocks.
What Should Occur: Despite Melbourne’s recent dominance over the Breakers it should still be a lot closer than most people think. For starters, United no longer have Carrick Felix to rely upon and in his place is Casey Prather who’s still fully acclimatizing to being back in the NBL. While another factor going in New Zealand’s favour is the fact that only eight players actually took part in the game against the kings last round. Meaning that the majority of the sqaud will be well rested and well prepared for the battle that lies ahead. Finally, if this Melbourne team is anything like the last one that featured in the NBL finals, then that only spells good news for the Breakers as that team, just like the current United one, proved very hot during the regular campaign, but choked when it mattered most. This game will be tight.
Also pick them to be the first to 10 points at $1.65 (William Hill)
Adelaide 36ers v Perth Wildcats
What’s Happened On The Court: The first leg between the 2nd placed 36ers and 3rd placed Wildcats, just like the game played before it, should prove to be a thoroughly entertaining affair.
Adelaide come back into this match on the back of three consecutive victories, which included a 10 point win over Perth. However their game before that was a 21 point loss to the very same team. Among their other victories were a commanding 24 point win over the Hawks and an easy 23 point victory over the Bullets. In their efforts against Brisbane, over the first two quarters they shot them of the park scoring a combined 59 points. As well as their offensive output being on display, defence also ran amok as well as they kept the Bullets to only 12 points in the third period, only 12!!! While in the third they again kept their oppositions scoring output low as it was only 16 points this time. Mitch Creek ended up with 16 points, 6 rebounds and an assist. While Josh Childress let his best efforts be known with 12 points, 8 boards and 3 dimes. Shannon Shorter also scored 10, while of the bench, Hodgson had 11. However, absolutely dominating was Deng who scored 20, had 1 board and got 3 steals, all in just under 19 minutes of playing time.
While for the Wildcats, they are in very poor form entering this match-up, having won only one of their past four games. However, luckily for them it was their last game that they won, which proved to be an outstanding 89-61 victory over the Taipans. They won three of the four quarters and the only one that they didn’t win was a draw. This while in the third quarter, they kept Cairns to a very low 10 points and this was coming of the second quarter in which Perth had held them to only 11 points. Bryce Cotton did what he normally does scoring 24 points, pulling in a board, dishing out 6 assists and getting a steal. While Jesse Wagstaff also played very well as he shot 5-6 from the court for 16 points to go along with 2 rebounds and 1 dime. While coming of the pine, Derek Cooke Jr did a little bit of everything, scoring 3 points, pulling in 5 boards, assisting on a bucket and getting a steal and a block each. While also as a part of Perth’s second unit, Hire and Walker each got 7 rebounds.
What Should Occur: A very defensively orientated affair. Both teams have shown what they are capable of on the less glamorous end during the campaign and this match should be heavily featured around that. J-Chill, Mitch Creek and Nathan Sobey are among the threats that the 36ers posses on that end of the floor. Especially in the case of Childress who is avergaing over a steal per game and just under a block per game. While as a team, Adelaide aren’t afraid to square up and get physical. While for Perth, Trevor Gleeson has made it one of his top priorities since he’s been with the team. Damian Martin, Derek Cooke Jr and Bryce Cotton are all threats on that end, as well as several others that Perth can deploy to make life hard for their opponents. Cotton’s stealing abilities especially will have Adelaide on their toes.
However pick the 36ers to be the first to 10 points at $1.75 (William Hill)
Monday, March 5
New Zealand Breakers v Melbourne United
One team is aiming to win their 5th Championship and further etch themselves into NBL history in the form of the Breakers. While the opposition side in Melbourne are also aiming up in pursuit of their 5th Championship. Both sides have the history and the players, but it’s very possible that after this game, one team may be done and dusted, while the other will live to see another day. Who will it be?
Key Players: One player who’s impossible to go past for New Zealand is former Belgian League winner and Philadelphia born DJ Newbill. Coming up against a free-flowing and scoring Melbourne side, both his scoring and assisting capabilities will have to be on fully display if his team wishes to get a result from this match. His averages of 13.4ppg and 3.3apg will be critical to his sides success, especially as one of the teams starting Guards.
And while a massive shout-out goes to Edgar Sosa and all that he offers to the Breakers, what Thomas Abercrombie can produce on the defensive end will be just as important to New Zealand. The former NBL GF MVP can always be a threat offensively. But what he produces daily in the less glamorous end in the form of 3.6drpg, 0.6spg and 1.4bpg will be massive for the Breakers. His block averages are an equal league high and will be heavily relied upon to stop the likes of Josh Boone and Tai Wesley getting to work inside the paint.
For Melbourne, the key to them winning this game and in turn potentially the series will be the play of back-court duo Casper Ware and Chris Goulding. One used to play for the 76ers, while the other is a former NBL Champ, but when they play together, it’s like the court is on fire. Ware is putting up 16.1pgg, while Goulding is getting 14.ppg. While together they’re averaging 7.2 dimes per game. If the NBL’s equivalent of Steph Curry & Klay Thompson are able to get hot and quickly, the game might already be over.
What To Expect: Keeping in line with the players oriented theme for this preview, former New Jersey Net and Big East Defensive Player of the Year Josh Boone could hold all the cards as to whether or not his side Melbourne have success in this game or not. The starting C for United always has a strong inside presence close to the hoop. However if New Zealand’s defence first approach limits what he’s able to do, then blokes like Ware & Goulding won’t have as much room to operate in. If Boone has a bad game, the Breakers may well prove to be the ones marching on in this series.
Friday, March 9
Perth Wildcats v Adelaide 36ers
The Wildcats are aiming for their 9th Championship. Similar to Andrew Gaze, MJ or the GSW, they are just taken for granted, this despite their utter greatness. While the 36ers like a lot of the teams participating in this years finals series, are aiming to win their 5th Championship, the last of which was in 2002. It’s been a while between drinks for Adelaide fans. But who be one step closer to the ultimate dream after this game is over? Only time will tell.
Key Players: He’s an NBL Champ, won the NBL GF MVP and led the league in scoring as well as having been an NBA D-League All-Star, it’s non other than Bryce Cotton. He is a strong contributor to Perth’s 85.3 points per game, with his own personal averages of 19.4ppg on 44% shooting, while he’s also averaging 3.1 dimes per game. The 36ers are a high-scoring side, meaning players like Cotton will really have to shoot well in order to keep his side within touching distance of Adelaide. However his scorching hot 45% shooting from behind the arc could well prove to be the difference between a tight loss and a close win for his side. Don’t expect one of the most clutch players in the entire league to let his team down anytime soon.
Derek Cooke Jr is another player who will be a major key to Perth winning this game. The strong bench player in his last match against Cairns got a steal and block among his stats. While before that against Melbourne he pulled in 5 boards. While it wasn’t all that long ago that he exposed Adelaide to the tune of 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Look for him to really make his mark felt against the 36ers.
For Adelaide, J-Chill is the player who most holds the hopes to the 36ers winning this match-up. He might not be the best player on the roster, but he has a hell of a lot of experience and as we’ve seen this season as well as during his time with Sydney, he can be an absolute beast when he wants to be. Childress has called all of Brooklyn, Atlanta and Phoenix home during his NBA Career while he’s also won the Greek Cup, in addition to achieving a lot of success in the NBL. His ability close to the hoop, along with his 11.5ppg, 6.3rpg, 2,2apg, 1,1spg and 0.8bpg make him a threat everywhere on the court and someone who may well could be the game-changer for Adelaide.
What To Expect: Despite all they’ve achieved in recent seasons, Perth are not the favourites for the NBL Championship. That mantra would belong to either Melbourne or the 36ers, the team who Perth get to face off against in this game. While heading into the finals, the Wildcats were on a bit of a shaky run at best. Getting blown out in some games as well as losing to some of the leagues worst sides. With that in mind, either Perth will give Adelaide a run for their money, or they could get blown out. However, Perth have the coach in Trevor Gleeson, the players and the experience. Expect the side that lost to Cairns to come up big in this one and win.