Tue, Oct 9, 9:54am by Staff Writer
The 2018-19 NBL season begins this week with seven matches across four days, beginning with a double header on Thursday night.
New Zealand Breakers versus Brisbane Bullets
Thursday, 11 October 2018 at 5:20pm AEDST at Spark Arena, Auckland
The New Zealand Breakers have been one of the strongest teams in the NBL during the past decade and will be hoping to start the new campaign with a win when it hosts the Brisbane Bullets.
The Breakers are $1.63 favourites to win the match, with Brisbane priced as $2.23 outsiders.
New Zealand finished fourth last season and after a strong opening half of the season, fell back to fourth in the standings.
They lost both semi final matches to Melbourne United to be bounced out of the playoffs.
It was another lean year for the Brisbane Bullets who finished the season on the bottom of the ladder.
Andrej Lemanis’ side managed just nine wins last season and will be looking to make the playoffs for the first time since their reintroduction into the competition.
This season’s roster features a number of new faces, including former NBA player Alonzo Gee.
Cam Gliddon joins from the Cairns Taipans, while Mika Vukona and Jason Cadee round out the big name recruitments for Brisbane.
The Breakers return from a pre-season trip to Phoenix where they lost to the Suns by just seven points.
Their roster has few changes from last season, with the addition of Majok Majok from Melbourne the most noticeable change.
Given their long travels in recent weeks to the United States and back, the Breakers will have plenty to contend with in this one.
Look for a fresher Bullets team to get the job done in a close one.
Best bet- Brisbane Bullets to win at $2.23
Illawarra Hawks versus Melbourne United
Friday, 12 October 2018 at 7:50pm AEDST at WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
The reigning NBL champions will open their season with a trip to Illawarra to play the Hawks.
The home side is a $2.37 outsider to win the match, with Melbourne United priced at $1.57.
This is the first of two games on the opening weekend for Melbourne, who plays New Zealand at home on Sunday.
The Hawks finished fifth last season to miss a playoff berth by three games.
They were one of the highest scoring teams in the competition, but struggled defensively, giving away the most points of any side in the league.
United played two pre-season games in the United States recently, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors.
They have had a heavy pre-season schedule and will have to face the Illawarra Hawks on less than five days rest from their travels.
That is a tough ask for the reigning champs and with Illawarra possessing plenty of attacking firepower, they should keep this one fairly close.
Best bet- Illawarra Hawks to cover 3.5-point handicap at $1.84
Melbourne United versus New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, 14 October 2018 at 3:30pm AEDST at Hisense Arena, Melbourne
Last season’s champions open their home campaign against the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday.
Melbourne United is $1.41 to win the match, with the Breakers $2.86 outsiders.
This match features two of the best teams in the NBL, with both sides having met in last year’s finals, where United prevailed 2-0 in the semi finals.
The teams met three times last season, with New Zealand winning twice.
The first was a 12-point win in round three in Melbourne, which was followed up with a 17-point win in Auckland later in the season.
United got the ultimate payback with two finals wins and a six-point victory in round 18.
The Breakers have had to do plenty of travel in the past week or so and have flown from New Zealand to Phoenix back to New Zealand and then to Melbourne. It is a tall order to expect them to produce their best basketball on the road in the opening round, with Melbourne the play in this one.
Best bet- Melbourne United to cover 5.5-point handicap at $1.92
NBL Round 1 Odds
New Zealand $1.63 Brisbane $2.23
Adelaide $1.84 Perth $1.92
Illawarra $2.37 Melbourne $1.57
Sydney $1.28 Adelaide $3.60
Brisbane $1.59 Cairns $2.32
Melbourne $1.41 New Zealand $2.86
Perth $1.30 Illawarra $3.40
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