Wed, Feb 8, 12:44pm by Head Editor
The final round of the regular season is here and just like we’ve seen all season, we are going down to the wire.
Besides the 36ers, no other team is guaranteed of participating in the finals action. There is only one game separating the Hawks (14-13) in second, to the Breakers (13-14) who are currently second-last on the ladder, which means that six teams are still competing for the final three playoff spots.
There’s never been a closer or better season in the 38-year history of the NBL.
Kicking off the final round is the only team that can rest easy, knowing that a home semi-final awaits them in week one of the playoffs, the 36ers are $1.61 favourites when they travel to Cairns to meet the Taipans ($2.20) on Thursday night.
Cairns need to win at least one of the two games against the minor-premiers to give themselves a chance of playing in the post season.
The biggest winner of Round 18 was Melbourne, defeating both Sydney and Illawarra to give their playoff ambitions a huge boost.
They can’t rest on their laurels though, with a big trip to Auckland’s North Shore Events Centre on Friday to meet yet another finals aspirant, the Breakers.
The hosts will go in with plenty of confidence after beating the 36ers in a thriller on Saturday.
They started well and their lead built to 13 (45-32) during the second quarter before hanging on by a single point. Kirk Penney and Kevin Dillard finished with 21 and 20 points respectively.
The match is the last of the season for the Breakers which means they must win to finish with a chance of playing finals, while the Melbournians play at home on Sunday against the Wildcats.
United are currently third on the ladder with a win-loss of 13-13. They can hold onto their position or even sneak into second position and a home-final, should they win both of their remaining games and Illawarra slip up against the Bullets on Saturday afternoon.
Before that match though, the Wildcats who are also 13-13, host the Sydney Kings who are coming off an 89-76 loss to Melbourne and now find themselves in a must-win scenario.
Perth also come into this one on the back of a loss, to the Taipans, who’s top-scorer was a former Wildcat – Nathan Jawai. The big man finished with 22 points, his highest return of the season.
Everything is in readiness for a mouth-watering final weekend of the regular season with so many scenarios possible but the one thing we do know is, it will be must-watch entertainment.
Cairns Taipans ($2.20) v Adelaide 36ers ($1.61), Cairns Convention Centre, 7:30pm, Thursday 9 February
New Zealand Breakers ($1.57) v Melbourne United ($2.25), North Shore Events Centre, 5:30pm, Friday 10 February
Perth Wildcats ($1.30) v Sydney Kings ($3.20), Perth Arena, 9:30pm, Friday 10 February
Illawarra Hawks ($1.22) v Brisbane Bullets ($3.75), WIN Entertainment Centre, 5:30pm, Saturday 11 February
Adelaide 36ers ($1.36) v Cairns Taipans ($2.87), Titanium Security Arena, 7:30pm, Saturday 11 February
Melbourne United ($1.61) v Perth Wildcats ($2.20), Hisense Arena, 3:00pm, Sunday 12 February
Adelaide 36ers $2.80
Illawarra Hawks $4
Melbourne United $5
Perth Wildcats at $6.50
New Zealand Breakers $8
Sydney Kings $9.50
Cairns Taipans $12
Brisbane Bullets $26
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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