Wed, Jan 17, 10:49am by Staff Writer
With only five weeks left in the NBL season, Melbourne United are on a roll, winning their past six matches including an 82-80 win against Perth last Friday night.
Perth and New Zealand continue to figure strongly in the top four, with Adelaide also looking likely for a finals berth.
Illawarra are the closest team to the fourth placed 36ers, but are four games behind them with only five rounds remaining.
New Zealand Breakers versus Melbourne United
Thursday, 18 January 2018 at 5.30pm AEDST
The injury of Casey Prather threatened to derail Melbourne United’s season, but it has in fact had the opposite effect.
United have won six straight matches, including wins against Perth, Adelaide and Illawarra on the road in that span.
Since December’s international break, New Zealand have been patchy.
The Breakers won nine matches in a row earlier this season but have been poor against other top four teams, losing to Perth and three times to Adelaide in that span.
We are getting $2.05 at Sportsbet for Melbourne who are in the best form of any team in the competition.
We are happy to continue siding with them until they give us a reason not to, as they have now moved into outright favouritism to win the NBL title at $2.70 off the back of their recent upturn in form.
Best bet- Melbourne United to win at $2.05 at Sportsbet
Adelaide 36ers versus Illawarra Hawks
Friday, 19 January 2018 at 7.30pm AEDST
This is a must-win game for the 5th placed Illawarra Hawks if they have hopes of making the finals and it is against the red-hot 36ers.
Adelaide has had their fluctuations in form this season, but appear to be playing their best basketball late in the season.
Illawarra will be disappointing in losing a number of early season matches by close margins, as they have left themselves with an enormous task over the closing rounds of this season.
Mitch Creek has returned for Adelaide recently after being sidelined with injury, however the 36ers have learnt to play without the Australian Boomer, who went scoreless last weekend.
Illawarra will be the more desperate team of the two, but will have to win this match with their defensive.
Last time they visited Adelaide an enormous fourth quarter comeback sealed victory for the Hawks after they trailed by double digits in the second half.
Taking the Hawks to cover +5.5 points given the predicament they are in at the moment appears to be the play in this game, with a loss for Illawarra catastrophic to their finals hopes.
Best bet- Illawarra Hawks to cover +5.5 points
Cairns Taipans versus New Zealand Breakers
Saturday, 20 January 2018 at 7.30pm AEDST
It’s two games in three nights for the Breakers as they travel to North Queensland to face Cairns.
These two teams met just a fortnight ago, where the Breakers were 12-point winners in Auckland.
In New Zealand’s only other visit to Cairns this season, an Edgar Sosa buzzer beater from three propelled New Zealand to a narrow win in one of the game’s o the season.
As mentioned in our preview of New Zealand and Melbourne, the Breakers have been erratic in the New Year, particularly away from home.
New Zealand last week lost by double digits at Illawarra, but have enjoyed recent success in Cairns.
The Taipans are almost mathematically out of finals contention, with the play of their imports being a source of controversy all season.
Shannon Shorter has failed to live up to expectation for them and in a league that is so reliant on superstar talent it is inevitable that Cairns will look elsewhere for their international players next season.
Having said that, this will be a tough challenge for New Zealand travelling to Cairns on a one-day break, with the Taipans well rested.
We are happy to back the rested team at home against an average road team in this circumstance.
Best bet- Cairns Taipans to win at $1.90
*All odds provided by Sportsbet
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