NBL Play-In Tournament – Previews & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for both fixtures of the Play-In Tournament for the 2022/23 NBL season.

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S.E. Melbourne Phoenix

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs Perth Wildcats

Thursday Feb 09, 6:30pm
John Cain Arena

Perth Wildcats

Lose here and your season is done and dusted, yet win and you’ll live to see another day. That is the proposition that both the Phoenix and the Wildcats currently face as a result of finishing the regular season in 5th (15-13) and 6th place (15-13) respectively. To South East Melbourne’s credit they’ll be extremely confident of advancing through to the next stage having impressively won 10 of their last 11 matches at home. One of which was a 21-point demolition job of Perth not that long ago, inspired by a huge double-double from Alan Williams with 27PTS & 14REB to his name. However the Wildcats to their credit have done well since then too, as on the final day of the regular season they needed to win by 11+ PTS at home against the Kings in order to march into a Top Six spot. And they did exactly that thanks to an influential performance from Corey Webster via his 26PTS on 11/17 shooting, as the hosts prevailed 96-84. Ultimately however this game will be decided by the real superstars of the game. How will one former NBAer in the form of Mitch Creek (23.4PPG) go against in the form of another in Bryce Cotton (23.5PPG)? Or how will the Phoenix-born ‘Big Man’ Williams fare against Las Vegas born and bred TaShawn Thomas – 9.6 vs 6.1RPG? Let’s dive deeper into the preview right here.

For 3X All-NBL Second Team competitor Mitch Creek there’s absolutely no denying the impact that he has for South East Melbourne. He is one of the clubs leaders both on and off the floor and is somebody who undoubtedly wears his heart on his sleeve. It might seem like a cop out to write that the Man affectionately nicknamed ‘Creeky’ will be the one who leads his team to glory, but the fact is that a lot of the pressure within this matchup, once the ball gets thrown into the air for tipoff, will almost immediately fall onto his shoulders. As somebody who drives hard to the rim and has an impeccable midrange game (55.6% on two-point attempts this season), he will be hard to stop. And his 2.9APG has aided the likes of Gary Browne and Kyle Adam massively in creating good looks for his teammates.

However, again it might seem like a cop out, but is absolutely true, Bryce Cotton will strongly rival him as a player who will attempt to lead by example and take over the game for his side and in this case it’s the Wildcats. His accomplishments list in Australia is huge and includes the likes of 3X MVP, 2X NBL Grand Final MVP and 3X NBL Championship winner for a reason. Not only is he electrically dangerous with his shot, he is also just as good at drawing in multiple defenders then dishing out the ball to his teammates for bloody brilliant looks at the basket. The likes of Luke Travers and the Webster brothers are only able to do their work because of what Cotton does to start off with. On the season he is averaging 4.4APG alongside 1.6SPG. He has a high Basketball IQ, whilst he is incredibly crafty without the ball as well. And the fact remains that Perth’s post-season drought was only broken because of his phenomenal play. Both Mitch Creek and Bryce Cotton will either win it, or lose it, for their respective sides in this elimination Play-In clash.

The Phoenix will get home here … just! Although I expect the Wildcats to ‘pounce’ on most of what South East Melbourne either may or may not potentially give them. However working in South East Melbourne’s favour is that they have the recent wood over Perth, having won three out of their last four home games against them. And not only that, but on each of those winning occasions they’ve produced 86+ PTS in each and every one. Whenever faced against them in Victoria they just seem to have a knack of fashioning pretty Basketball. One great thing is that it makes for amazing entertainment here! With Bryce Cotton heading into this clash off the back of a horrible 1/19 shooting performance against the Kings, that might just give Mitch Creek the mental edge he needs to take the game over with. However regardless of what happens we are in for one hell of a ride! This game is also available on Kayo Freebies for those interested or wondering.

Betting tips: Bet on a tightly contested Phoenix dub at $1.52 (UniBet)

Also look for them to start off the match like a house on fire and win Q1 at $1.73 (TexBet)

While you can look for both the hosts and visitors to score 82+ PTS each at $1.11 and $1.23 (Bet365)


Cairns Taipans

Cairns Taipans vs Tasmania JackJumpers

Thursday Feb 09, 8:30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Tasmania JackJumpers

The Taipans have been extremely ‘venomous’ at home lately having won seven of their last 10 games at the Cairns Convention Centre. However Scott Roth’s Jack Jumpers are another surprise packet not to be messed with this campaign, as they have now made the Top Four twice in just their two seasons of existence. They just like Cairns have made all the so called ‘critics’ out there look like absolute jokes. It’s somewhat sad that these two teams meet in these conditions, as they would’ve both been worthy Grand Final opponents against one another (although hypothetically they still could be). With the ‘Jackies’ themselves having won five out of their last seven games overall, including seven of their last nine on the road. Adam Forde is a massive reason as to why the Taipans finished in 3rd spot on the ladder, with the former 4X NBL Championship winning assistant coach having done absolute wonders with one of the most limited budgets in the entire NBL. Under his watchful guidance many young talents have emerged including Sam Waardenburg, born 1999, who is averaging 10.8PPG + 5RPG. There’s also Bul Kuol, 1997, who whilst not incredibly young at this point was handed a lifeline by Cairns with them being his first professional team in 2021. And the 2022 NBL Rookie of the Year has thrived this season and has improved his game even further by averaging 10.4PPG + 3.4RPG.

Scott Roth has also done a wonderfully unexpected job with Tasmania in what is now his second season in charge of the still relatively new expansion side. Losing star shooter Josh Adams from last seasons Grand Final reaching side was seen as a massive blow to the franchise, but his crafty decision making should leave no doubts not only about how good of a coach he is, but how much he cares for and loves the club too. One player brought in was ex-Brooklyn Net discard Milton Doyle and he has just been sensational. The booming Guard is averaging 17.1PPG and 3.1APG, all the while being a reliable voice both on and off the floor. He’s been responsible for doing some of the pretty stuff, whilst some of his teammates have slugged away doing the less desirable stuff. And Doyle going up against Cairns Guard Shannon Scott will definitely be a tense battle that has a big bearing on the overall result of the match. Scott to his credit is a very team-orientated player and one whom is averaging 5.4APG and 1.6SPG so far this campaign. So for all of the stuff that’s being both written and said about these two sides stingy ‘brick wall-esque’ defences, don’t forget about the Blokes who are more then capable of lighting it up in a hurry.

Four of these sides last seven matchups against one another have been decided by just nine-points or less and ultimately that’s the avenue that I predict this tense encounter will take as well. The latest of those was an extremely closely contested rivalry at the Cairns Convention Centre, one in which Tasmania narrowly prevailed 85-77. That day the ‘Jackies’ dominant Q2 efforts saw them come out on top 20-13. Jack McVeigh was huge for the visitors with 18PTS, whilst Matt Kenyon also dominated with 15PTS. Meanwhile Josh Magette’s stats also included 14PTS, 6REB and 7AST. Whilst for Cairns D.J. Hogg was impressive as he collected 17PTS, as did Bul Kuol, who also locked down 8REB.

I simply cannot understate how hard it is to pick a winner here! Both teams will bring the utter most intensity and in turn make life a living hell for their opponents! But ultimately I’ll back the JackJumpers to edge out this fiery encounter every so slightly. They’ve been there and done that before and as an added bonus a large nucleus of their team for this campaign is the same of that from the last one when they pushed Sydney to their absolute limit in the Grand Final series. Whilst how will the Taipans fare without Keanu Pinder? Out due to injury and one of their best during the regular season, his absence might hurt Cairns during the crunch-time moments of this encounter. Available on Kayo Sports Freebies there’s no reason not to watch what could well be one of the games of the year!

Betting tips: Bet for a close ‘Tassie’ victory at $2.80 (BlueBet)

You can also look for a high scoring and intense Q4 to produce 43+ collective PTS at $1.85 (UniBet)

And you can also look for ‘Tassie’ to reach 20PTS first at $2.20 (Bet365)


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