Semi-finals series Game One – Previews & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for the opening games of the semi-finals series for the 2023/24 NBL season.

View and compare the latest NBL bookmaker odds
View the NBL form guide

Melbourne United
Melbourne United vs Illawarra Hawks

Thursday March 07, 7:30pm
John Cain Arena

Illawarra Hawks

Opening the curtains for this seasons NBL semi-finals series we have the regular season champions and 20-8 Melbourne United playing hosts to the ever-resurgent Illawarra Hawks, a team that has won six of their last eight outings. And as good as these ‘Hawkies’ have been under the fierce guidance of Justin Tatum, they will well and truly have their work cut out for them as they prepare to face a team who have won 19 of their last 22 matches at home. The last time they faced off was at John Cain Arena, well under a month ago, as Chris Goulding & Co flexed exactly why they are the Championship favourites. In what was a decisive five-point margin of victory, United showed up where it mattered the most, winning Q3 30-24 and winning Q4 too, 24-21.  This as Chris Goulding & Matthew Dellavedova led the way with 19PTS & 17PTS respectively. Whilst off the bench Luke Travers & Ian Clark locked down a 13-piece meal each. In a game that was there for the taking for either rival, Melbourne fought their way to a closely contested victory. Which is extremely similar to how I imagine this exciting affair will play out. However, Justin Robison, the marquee Guard who once scored 11PTS against Detroit whilst in the NBA and most recently procured 26PTS, 4REB, 3AST and 3STL in his sides home elimination dub against the Breakers will certainly have some ‘lighting up’ to do in Victoria as well.

Did you know that visiting Hawks veteran Todd Blanchfield brought up his 400th NBL appearance in his teams sudden death three-point home win over the Breakers, as he has suited up for all of Illawarra, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and the now defunct Townsville Crocodiles. He’ll have to use all of his leadership however to help guide his team in this Playoffs affair, given that the Hawks have gone down in 15 of their last 21 games against United. 

To start off the season Illawarra lost seven of their opening nine encounters. These included a heavy 30-point drubbing at the hands of Tasmania, a 20 and 15-point loss to the Kings and a 12-point loss to Melbourne. Since they fired Jacob Jackomas and brought in Justin Tatum however they have done a complete 360 turnaround, as we’ve all played witness too. Yet no one expects them to beat Melbourne, so they enter this series with all the pressure placed on their rivals. Now as for Melbourne, given their 1st-place finishing to end the regular season, the weight of expectation is now heavily placed upon them. They have Aussie superstars all over including backcourt duo Matthew Dellavedova and Chris Goulding, as well as Luke Travers. They also have Kiwi superstar and 2024 Best Defensive Player Shea Ili leading the lines. And then there’s Ian Clark, 2024 NBL Best Sixth Man, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. and Ariel Hukporti as well, the ‘German Giant’. They are stacked everywhere! Melbourne’s owners have spent a lot of money in order to compile a Championship winning team. Sure it’s easy to beat a down-trodden Phoenix side or a shaky 36ers, but this is where it gets real interesting! Melbourne might not put in a five-star performance right here, but expect their depth to help get them over the line in the end.

Betting tips: Look for Melbourne to win out at $1.32 (BlueBet)

Also look for the first quarter spread to be in United’s favour at -1.5 at $1.78 (BlueBet)

Also pick the Hawks to have 89PTS or under at $1.55 (Bet365)

And for United to score 50+ first half points at $2.40 (Bet365)


Perth Wildcats
Perth Wildcats vs Tasmania JackJumpers 

Friday March 08, 9:30pm RAC Arena

Tasmania JackJumpers

This season Perth finished the regular campaign with a winning percentage of 60.71%, 17-11 and in 2nd-place. That whilst Tasmania were/are just a single spot behind them in 3rd, with a victory percentage of 57.14% and a 16-12 record. So all in all just two games currently seperate these two fiercely competitive franchises. TWO! How this affair could play out is anybody best guess, however my educated opinion is that it will have something to do with the likes of Bryce Cotton & Keanu Pinder, 26PTS/4AST & 18PTS/9REB in their sides most recent 29-point home thrashing of Cairns versus opposing Guard/Big Man combination Milton Doyle & Will Magnay, 8REB/10AST & 25PTS/10REB in the ‘Jackies’ 16-point demolition job of the Hawks in their seeding-qualifier at MyState Bank Arena. Cotton recently laid claim to fame on his sixth NBL MVP award (regular season/Grand Final combined), whilst Doyle was named to the All-NBL Second Team after season averages of 15.6PPG, 4.6RPG, 5.0APG and 1.2SPG. Whilst for Pinder and Magnay, all campaign long they have constantly broke through opposing teams defences like paper mache. Pinder has made a regular habit of producing ferocious, rim-defying dunks and Magnay statistically is having arguably his best ever season as a pro to date (seven in the NBL alone). We all know the impact that these Guys can have on both ends of the floor, so now it’s painfully obvious if it wasn’t already that whoever gets the advantage in Game One will come down to one of these world-beating pairs.

Did you know that despite both Bryce Cotton and Milton Doyle going undrafted, they have both played in the NBA, as their determination and resilience have seen them represent the Brooklyn Nets (Doyle) and the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz (Cotton). Further proving how close it is between these two teams is that five of their last seven H2Hs have been decided by just eight-points or less. And the last time they faced off in WA, Perth prevailed by just one-point, 89-88, as Cotton hit two FTs with 00:08 left on the clock to deliver his side the closely contested dub.

This matchup will be so, so, so close. As talked about earlier, all that separates these two teams is a couple of games record-wise as thin as a piece of paper. John Rillie nor Scott Roth have ever won an NBL Championship before, however you could make an argument that both are pretty deserving of one. For Perth in the lead-up to this, attack would’ve been the key given how largely dominant they have been in that area this season. Perth have scored 91+ PTS in 10 of their last 13 games overall. Whilst for Tasmania defensive efficiency is what they are all about. Roth regularly preaches about that side of things. And if you analyse their most recent win, a 92-76 seeding beating of Illawarra at home, they made them shoot 29/71 overall (41%), whilst also limiting them to just eight-threes overall. ‘Tassie’ also had seven steals, more than double that of Illawarra who had three. It should be a scintillatingly incredible affair, but I will back the JackJumpers to get the job done away from home, just. Expect the margin of victory between these two teams to be extremely thin, just like that of the actual differences between them.

Betting tips: Pick Tasmania to win at $2.20 (Bet365), however pick Perth to win Q1 at $1.75 (Bet365)

Also look for both teams to score 18+ PTS in Q1 at $1.32 (Bet365)

And look for the JackJumpers to have 85+ PTS at $1.52 and for Perth to produce 79+ PTS at $1.14 (Bet365)


Share this:
Filed in: NBL


Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.