The following are previews with betting tips for selected fixtures in Round 18 of the 2023/24 NBL season.
|Adelaide 36ers vs Sydney Kings
Friday February 02, 7:30pm
As DJ Vasiljevic once again prepares to host his former employers the Sydney Kings, a franchise whom he won back-to-back Championships with, he does so with his 36ers having been triumphant in five of their last seven home games at the ‘cauldron’ that is the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. As the ex-Wizard and electric Guard lit up the floor last time out at home, scoring a game-high 28PTS, including hitting five from beyond the arc. As he absolutely drained the Cairns Taipans out, both mentally and physically, in what was an 88-71 thrashing. However nothing will be given in this undoubtedly heated affair and he’ll have to earn it all, as his former backcourt teammate and NBL MVP Jaylen Adams might have a thing or two to say about ‘DJ’ in this matchup. Adams in 31:23-minutes of play last round exploded for 16PTS, 3REB, 3AST and 1BLK in his sides 98-86 dismantling of Melbourne at Sydney Olympic Park. Off the court they still follow each other on social media, however on the court they’ll be anything but amicable with one another. As for the hosts they need to keep on winning to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, whilst for the visitors 3rd-place is still very much so well within their reach. What a Friday night cracker we have right here!
For DJ Vasiljevic he will rightfully be one of the players put heavily under the microscope this game. The Canadian-born NBL veteran recently put pen to paper and inked a new three-year deal with Adelaide. And perhaps most importantly for the club, unlike his previous arrangement with the Kings, this one has no out clauses, etc. It is a strong show of faith by the franchise that they view him as a key piece of their future, especially given how wobbly the 36ers have been both on and off the court these last few years. Now he gets to step up and deliver on that faith and reward the supporter base who have backed him so heavily. And so far he is giving back bucket after bucket, as on 18.9PPG this season, that is 3.5PTS clear of his previously best statistical output in Sydney. Not only that but his assists, steals and FT percentage are also the best of his ‘Aussie’ career as well. With the 36ers possessing a lot of ‘young pups’ , ‘DJ’ the 26-year-old has taken on an impactful leadership role within the club. So as a result in part, the open looks that he should help create for those younger guys could work out very well against a shaky Kings defence. Whilst his ability to penetrate close to the rim could see Sydney’s bigs such as Jordan Hunter and Jonah Bolden get in foul trouble early. The possibilities are endless for Vasiljevic as his side continues to fight to see another day.
This affair could prove to be closer than a lot of supporters may expect it to be. However at the end of the day the back-to-back Champions won’t be going out without a whimper. I’ll back them to get the job done here.
Betting tips: Pick the Kings to collect the W at $1.73 (BlueBet)
Also look for Sydney to win Q1 at $1.78 (BlueBet)
And pick the total combined points scored by both teams to be at 187 or more at $1.72 (BlueBet)
Finally pick the Kings to be the last team to score a basket at $1.87 (BlueBet)
|Illawarra Hawks vs Brisbane Bullets
Saturday February 03, 7:30pm
As things are currently positioned the Brisbane Bullets sit 5th on the NBL ladder with a 12-13 record. Whilst the Illawarra Hawks are just one behind them at 11-12. Given the little amount of time left until the playoffs begin, alongside the fact that the 7th-placed Taipans have a winning percentage of just 44%, it stands to reason that for just the second time in six campaigns, the Bullets will be ‘firing’ their way past the regular season. Whilst the Hawks ‘soaring’ 360 turnaround will be completed within the space of just a year, from dead-last to the post-season. So both rivals and their deserving fan bases have a lot to cheer about at the moment. However both franchises still have the potential to finish so much higher on the table and maybe even host a play-in game. So who will bring the heat right here? Nathan Sobey shot 10/13 from the FT line en route to 19PTS during his sides disappointing home 93-77 loss to Melbourne last round. Whilst rival superstar Guard Tyler Harvey also secured a 19-piece meal during his latest outing, a tight 89-85 victory over New Zealand at the ‘Gong’, as he was a very effective 6/7 from two-point range. To the 3X All-NBL representative and 1X All-NBL member respectively, when they last faced off earlier this campaign they both exploded! Sobey poured in 25PTS during his teams tense seven-point victory, whilst Harvey did his thing with a match-high 29PTS. If they can conjure up the goods again in this tasty affair, then there’ll be more then enough portions for every supporter going around.
Reportedly on $400-500,000 per season, Tyler Harvey is either the Hawks ‘diamond’ or ‘rocks’ player, essentially meaning he is their best or worst. Last season as Illawarra tumbled all the way down to the bottom of the ladder to collect the dreaded Wooden Spoon, he certainly did himself no favours playing wise. This as he averaged a shooting percentage of just 39.3% from the field, had his NBL worst-ever TOV rate of 2.3 per game, ditto his +/- at -8.41. However come this campaign his assists numbers are up, as is his two-point shooting percentage as he isn’t just jacking up any random old shots and instead is carefully curating them, whilst his FT percentage has jumped up significantly as well, from 80% to 88%. Now that salary is very well justified as he is playing on not only a better team, but a team that actually plays like one as well. Everybody is playing for one another and not themselves! As already mentioned Harvey conjured up a magical 29PTS the last time he met Brisbane. Whilst late last year on the Gold Coast he came up with 16PTS against the Bullets. Before that he had 22PTS against them. Meanwhile around mid-2022 in what was a 31-point thrashing by Illawarra at Nissan Arena, he had a handy 18PTS and 6AST next to his name. He loves playing the Bullets and the Bullets when placed against the wrong team can leak points and quickly. The Bullets need their best defence on guard for this one.
It really is 50-50 as to who could emerge victorious from this undoubtedly extremely entertaining and extremely-tough encounter. However the Hawks may well have something special brewing this year. Look for them to further consolidate a play-in spot with a well-earned dub.
Betting tips: Back the Hawks to get the job done at $1.68 (Bet365)
Also look for Q1 to belong to Illawarra at $1.75 (Bet365)
And you can also look for the Hawks to score 80 or more points at $1.14 and for Brisbane to conjure up 74 or more points at $1.062 (Bet365)