Wed, Dec 28, 10:24am by Senior Writer
The New Year’s weekend shapes crucial to Melbourne United’s NBL title ambitions, with two matches which could see them close the gap to ladder-leaders Adelaide.
Just four games separate top (Adelaide) from bottom (Perth), with Melbourne currently in fourth having thrashed Brisbane 97-59 on Boxing Day.
United face a trip to Cairns on Thursday night, and then host the 36ers on New Year’s Day and a win in both matches would see them close within one match of top spot.
The 36ers may be top of the table having won eight matches straight, but are also $2.30 outsiders in the match in Melbourne where United are $1.60.
A United double over the abridged Round 13 is priced at $2.56, and with Caspar Ware averaging over 21 points this season and Chris Goulding leading the way with 19 on Boxing Day, they look to have some momentum.
Championship betting has the Sydney Kings and the 36ers sharing favouritism at $4.33 with United just behind them at $4.50.
The Kings face the New Zealand Breakers in an important match for them at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday night.
Having looked clear premiership favourites three weeks ago, Andrew Gaze’s men have gone on a four-match slide to sit 10-10 for the season. But they should bounce back against the Breakers, with the bookies putting them up as the shortest priced favourites for the weekend at $1.47, to New Zealand $2.60. The Breakers are 2-6 on the road this season.
The only team with a worse road record this season are the defending champions the Wildcats, who have dropped to the bottom of the table in recent weeks. Perth are 1-6 on their travels and go into Saturday’s match against the second-placed Illawarra Hawks as $2.35 outsiders. The Hawks have won their past two matches against the Wildcats.
Saturday’s other match features Brisbane hosting Cairns, with the Bullets having lost five of their past six matches, a streak which started with a home loss to the Taipans earlier this month.
NBL Markets – Sportsbet:
Thursday December 29
Cairns Taipans $2.30 v Melbourne United $1.60
Friday December 30
Sydney Kings $1.47 v New Zealand Breakers $2.60
Saturday December 31
Illawarra Hawks $1.57 v Perth Wildcats $2.35
Brisbane Bullets TBA v Cairns Taipans TBA
Sunday January 1
Melbourne United $1.60 v Adelaide 36ers $2.30
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