Wed, Feb 1, 1:28pm by Head Editor
With two rounds to go in the regular season, we’re set for the closest race to the finals in the history of the league. Besides the 36ers, no team is guaranteed of finals action with the six teams behind Adelaide all needing to keep winning to stay alive.
The second-placed Illawarra Hawks did just that when they came out on top in a classic top-of-the-table contest against the 36ers last Saturday night to spoil the party of the newly-crowned minor premiers.
Illawarra’s victory was set up by import Rotnei Clarke who finished with 25 points in the 95-92 win at Wollongong’s WIN Entertainment Centre.
It’s all set up for a brilliant contest as the Taipans are coming off a big 97-83 win over the Bullets in the Queensland derby. Travis Trice was on fire for the Taipans nailing 5-of-6 three-pointers in his round-high 27 points.
The result meant that the Bullets are the first club that are out of the running for the playoffs – it only took 17 rounds to eliminate a team.
Illawarra must then back it up by travelling to Melbourne on Monday night to face United. The early odds for that game see the hosts as $1.61 favourites after they lost a thriller (73-71) in Perth on Saturday.
That win gave Perth their 12th win of the season and with it gave them a huge chance of snatching a finals position. They are now level with the Taipans with two rounds to go.
The Sydney Kings had a huge 84-57 win over the Breakers on Sunday that saw them move into third place on the ladder. Greg Whittington finished with 16 points but the visitors did more damage to themselves with 14 first-half turnovers.
As mentioned, Melbourne ($1.61) close out the round at home on Monday night with a key match against Illawarra ($2.20) at Hisense Arena, which depending on results, could be a virtual elimination final for the hosts.
Suggested Bet: Take the Taipans to beat the Wildcats: $1.72
Illawarra Hawks ($1.53) v Cairns Taipans ($2.37), WIN Entertainment Centre, 7:30pm, Friday 3 February
Perth Wildcats ($1.25) v Brisbane Bullets ($3.50), Perth Arena, 9:30pm, Friday 3 February
Adelaide 36ers ($1.36) v New Zealand Breakers ($2.87), Titanium Security Arena, 5:30pm, Saturday 4 February
Sydney Kings ($1.61) v Melbourne United ($2), Qudos Bank Arena, 7:30pm, Saturday 4 February
Cairns Taipans ($1.72) v Perth Wildcats ($2), Cairns Convention Centre, 3pm, Sunday 5 February
Melbourne United ($1.61) v Illawarra Hawks ($2.20), Hisense Arena, 7:30pm, Monday 6 February
All times are Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time*
Odds were sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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