The opening round of the NBL was everything we expected and more.
Cairns emerged as the front-runners after winning both a home an away game. The men from North Queensland travelled to New Zealand to secure their spot at the top of the table ahead of the 36ers.
It was business as usual for Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats, which look well-placed to make another title run this season.
This week there are five games on the card which tips off with the Taipans vs. 36ers on Thursday night and concludes with the Kings facing the Hawks on Sunday afternoon.
7:30pm Cairns Taipans vs. Adelaide 36ers
The Taipans have often struggled to get off to good starts in the NBL, but this year couldn’t have been any different.
After winning two games in the opening week, the Taipans are on top of the NBL ladder, but it’s not about to get any easier against the 36ers this Thursday.
The 36ers were a little unlucky on opening night against Melbourne United. They led for most of the game, but gave up the lead late and they were unable to get a game-winning chance at the end of game.
Adelaide quickly bounced back with a stellar 105-96 win over the Sydney Kings and that should hold them in good stead for this week.
The bookmakers are finding it tough to split these two teams, but playing in Cairns is one of the hardest tasks in the NBL and considering the 36ers are dealing with controversy regarding their imported player, we’ll stick with the Taipans at home.
Betting tip: Taipans to win @ $1.80 (BET NOW)
Taipans by 6
5:30pm New Zealand Breakers vs. Sydney Kings
We had concerns about the New Zealand Breakers before week 1 and they didn’t do much to impress us against the Taipans.
The Breakers struggled to recruit quality imports during the off-season and there is a lack of point-scoring ability with their local players.
They were stifled on Sunday against the Taipans when their bigs got into early foul trouble and they didn’t have enough scoring on the floor to keep up with the Taipans. That’s going to be an issue this week against the Kings, which is coming off a loss.
The Kings were unable to match the scoring ability of the 36ers last week, but they were fresh off the plane having returned from playing an NBA pre-season game against Utah, so we’ll forgive that performance.
More travel for the Kings might not help their cause, but they are facing a vunerable Breakers side and the Kings should make their presence known.
Betting tip: Kings to win @ $1.80 (BET NOW)
Kings by 5
7:30pm Perth Wildcats vs. Illawarra Hawks
The Wildcats made a good start to its NBL title defense with a solid 96-86 win at home against the Brisbane Bullets.
Quality import Bryce Cotton was the man of the moment – scoring 24 points which was matched only by Brisbane Bullets import Travis Trice (27 points).
The best aspect of the Wildcats is that they share the responsibility. Losing Casey Prather in the off-season hasn’t dented their chances of winning as the likes of Damian Martin, Jesse Wagstaff and Luke Walker are all getting more opportunities with the ball in hand.
The Wildcats will appreciate playing a second-consecutive home game, but this is a Hawks team hurting from a last-second loss to the Taipans.
The Hawks seemingly had the game in control from the opening whistle, but Cairns fought their way back to force what should have been overtime, but a last second foul sent Alex Loughton to the free throw line to sink the Hawks’ chances of winning.
Whilst the Hawks played well in patches, that inconsistency won’t help against a Wildcats team know to grind away the win.
Betting tip: Wildcats –5.5 @ $1.87 (BET NOW)
Wildcats by 9
8:00pm Adelaide 36ers vs. Melbourne United
Adelaide play their second game of the week this Saturday and there are pros and cons about that situation.
The pro is that they have two opportunities to score valuable premiership points this week and they play a team coming back from a grueling trip to the U.S.
The downside is that they’re playing Melbourne United, which lost by only one point to the Oklahoma City Thunder and they could have won with a little more luck.
United did that without their star Chris Goulding after he was rushed to hospital for an appendectomy, but they still have plenty of experience and talent to cope in the meantime.
Casper Ware is one of the most exciting players in the NBL and he can get hot at any time. That happened in week 1 against the 36ers and he really turned that game on its head.
Bookmakers have United as the slight favourites and this is expected to be one of the closest games of the week.
It’s tough to split them and Adelaide’s odds could change depending on their performance against the Taipans, but United should be too powerful in this situation.
Betting tip: United to win @ $1.68 (BET NOW)
United by 4
3:00pm Sydney Kings vs. Illawarra Hawks
The Kings and the Hawks play their second game of the week, but it will likely be a more important game for the visiting side.
The Hawks have a tough draw this week and playing both the Wildcats and Kings away from home isn’t an enviable task.
The Hawks could well go 0-2 this season and quickly be at the bottom of the ladder, so this game will be key for the Hawks.
Sydney Kings’ fans will enjoy seeing their team play at home after spending so much time on the road, but that travel could come back to bite them.
Playing in the U.S, Australia, New Zealand and the back to Australia is a good way to clock up the miles and how they respond to that travel is going to be the key to this game.
The bookmakers rightfully have the Kings as the $1.58 favourites, but considering how desperate the Hawks might be this week, we’re smelling an upset.
The Kings aren’t the most consistent team and punters could end the week on a high here.
Betting tip: Hawks to win @ $2.39 (BET NOW)
Hawks by 2