NBL Semi-finals series Game Three – Previews & Betting Tips

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

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Melbourne United
Melbourne United vs Illawarra Hawks

Wednesday March 13, 7:30pm
John Cain Arena

Illawarra Hawks

Game One of Melbourne and Illawarra’s semi-final series saw Matthew Dellavedova channel his inner relentless attacking mentality, as he went off for 6/10 from deep, 30PTS and 10AST, as United stormed home in overtime at John Cain Arena to win 115-106. Then in Game Two at the ‘Snake Pit’, Gary Clark was nothing short of sensational, as the 102kg beast who once averaged 18.2mpg in the NBA locked down a humungous 31PTS and 16REB in what was a 113-108 triumph, as they too came home strong in overtime. Now comes Game Three. You win and you move forward into the Grand Final series, however if you lose that’s it, there are no more second chances. It is abundantly clear that on their day only the finest of margins seperate these two fierce rivals, backed up by the fact that dating back to 2012, 17 of their last 28 matchups where Melbourne have hosted have been decided by just 10-points or less. A particularly damming statistic when you consider how turbulent Illawarra have been over that period. Will it be ‘Delly’ pushing and shoving Melbourne through to the decider, or will Clark help bulldoze his side their instead?

As good as Illawarra have been throughout the second-half of this season and they have been an on-fire type of good, it’s pretty difficult to discount Melbourne where it matters the most. When you analyse their bench from their most recent five-point loss to the ‘Hawkies’ you have Ian Clark who scored 17PTS, also an electric Guard who has won a Championship with both the Sydney Kings, as well as the Golden State Warriors. There’s also Brad Newley, the 300+ NBL game veteran who has collected seven Gold Medals representing Australia.

Then of the starters Matthew Dellavedova was a part of the famous Cleveland team that beat the 73-9 Warriors to win the Championship alongside LeBron James. He’s the player that just never, ever gives a single damn inch! Luke Travers was an NBL Champion in 2020 and an NBL Cup winner in 2021. And don’t forget Chris Goulding too! The sharp shooting Guard putting up 16.8PPG + 1.7APG this campaign. He also a Man who has competitively collected 3X NBL Grand Final wins to his name, as well as an NBL Grand Final MVP. I strongly believe that despite all their good qualities, Jason Tatum’s Men DO NOT have what it requires in order to take this one out. Melbourne ooze class all over and the bridge is too much for Illawarra to gap in an affair as big as this one.

My prediction is that United will earn this dub by at least 12+ points, so in essence a margin bigger than a lot of people are expecting. Their shooting brilliance should win out here. This is strongly backed up by the fact that over the course of their last 12 encounters, in eight of them they have put up 92+ points. They are a well-oiled machine under the guidance of Dean Vickerman. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but this game belongs to Melbourne. Illawarra’s inexperience may be exposed right here. It happened to Illawarra’s inner-city rivals the Kings many seasons back when Andrew Gaze was their head coach, as that young, but burgeoning team was a taught a thing or two by United in the opening round of the finals. Now things have come full circle, the Kings are shabby once again and ‘Gazey’ will be in the commentary box. However what stays the same is Melbourne’s dominance of those before them!

Betting tips: Back Melbourne to win at $1.28 (BlueBet)

Also back them to win Q1 at $1.52 (BlueBet)

Also look for Melbourne to score 91+ PTS at $1.52 and for Illawarra to score under 89PTS at $1.55 (Bet365)


Perth Wildcats
Perth Wildcats vs Tasmania JackJumpers 

Wednesday March 13, 9:30pm RAC Arena

Tasmania JackJumpers

Contesting the first game of their semi-final series in Western Australia, Perth were just too classy as they fought their way to a hard-earned 89-81 victory at RAC Arena. At the end of it all Keanu Pinder was a threat everywhere, as he shot 5/7 from beyond the arc and went 6/7 from the FT line en route to a game-high 25PTS + 7REB. Whilst they limited perennial MVP candidate Milton Doyle to just 4/16 shooting overall. However come Game Two in Tasmania it was a completely different story as the home team were determined not to be out on their arses early as they played ball in what was a dominant 102-94 victory at MyState Bank Arena, as they kept their campaign alive for at least one more game. Scott Roth’s troops are now 3-0 in semi-finals when they have faced elimination. Doyle turning on the jets in contrast to his last performance, as he went 4/9 from deep and 4/4 from the FT line for 24PTS, 6REB, 2AST and 1STL in just 30:57-minutes of playing time. And this time it was the opposing superstar Guard Bryce Cotton who could’ve put in a better shift, as despite landing 26PTS, he was still a -8 out on the floor. Can Cotton & Pinder send a ‘capacity’ home crowd home happy, or will Doyle & Will Magnay BB (bedazzle and bully) their way to a sudden-death triumph?

After serving a one-game suspension, Marcus Lee, the rangey ‘Jackies’ Big Man will return to the fold looking to make an immediate impact. During the opening game against Perth he put up 16PTS on 8/10 shooting from the floor, as he kept the JackJumpers in the game for long periods of time. And whilst he may have become partially famous during his time at Kentucky for helping out with charitable activities, I get the feeling he’ll be stealing a lot away from the Wildcats in this no doubt heated affair. For the season he is pulling in 3.6DRPG, as well as averaging just under one block (0.8) per game. When called upon he can hit clutch shots close to the rim, rebound the ball by out boxing and out hustling his opposing Men and swat the ball away where needed. In a classic matchup where the Guards may well dominate the headlines, Lee is another body who can challenge the likes of Keanu Pinder and who can challenge the likes of Alex Sarr and make this Game Three both an interesting and an entertaining one.

Tasmania showed a lot of guts in their most recent dub against Perth. After going down 29-21 in Q1 they were courageous as they completed their heroic comeback. That momentum isn’t just going to disappear, even if they are playing away from home. Scott Roth’s Men have also proven victorious in two of their last three games away from home, putting up 94PTS on two of those occasions. And whereas there seemed to be a significant over reliance on Bryce Cotton from the Wildcats last time out, Milton Doyle had no such issues with the ‘Jackies’. He was able to take a back seat during various stages of the affair as teammates such as Jack McVeigh – 22PTS and Majok Deng – 18PTS and a season-high really stood up to the task. ‘Tassie’ supporters get excited because come the full-time whistle your side will be back in a Grand Final series for the second-time in your insanely ballistic three-year history.

Betting tips: This will be updated when they become available. 

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