Wed, Jan 24, 9:48am by Staff Writer
With only four rounds remaining, round 15 of the 2017-18 NBL season figured to be as important as any in shaping the finals hopes of some teams in this year’s competition.
The Adelaide 36ers’ two wins against Illawarra extended their winning streak to six matches and boosted them to second position, leaving Illawarra in sixth and four games behind fourth placed Perth.
New Zealand beat top of the table Melbourne at home before losing to Cairns on Saturday night, with the Taipans still a slim chance of playing finals in fifth position.
The biggest story of the weekend was the Perth Wildcats losing two games to the bottom placed Sydney Kings. While the Wildcats don’t look a threat to miss finals, their form has been horrible, registering their second lowest score in 40 years on Sunday, just 56 points.
Brisbane Bullets versus Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, 27 January 2018 at 5.35pm AEDST
The Brisbane Bullets (7-15) are well and truly out of finals contention and host the hottest team in the league, the Adelaide 36ers (15-8).
Adelaide are an offensive machine, scoring 66 points in their last outing at Illawarra, including 39 points in the first quarter.
At times, the 36ers offense looked effortless, as they scored both from distance and inside the paint.
The Bullets have had another disappointing season, their second since returning to the NBL.
A pre-season favourite to finish last, the Bullets will be in a fight with the resurgent Sydney Kings to prevent that indignity from becoming a reality.
The 36ers and Bullets have played some close matches this season, including an overtime match the last time these two teams met in Brisbane, which Adelaide won by 11 points.
They also played a heart-stopper in Adelaide, where a Mitch Creek bucket with just a few seconds remaining separated the two teams.
With finals rapidly approaching, this Adelaide team looks switched on and will be too good for the Bullets.
Best bet- Adelaide 36ers to cover -4.5 points at $1.94
Perth Wildcats versus New Zealand Breakers
Saturday, 27 January 2018 at 8.35pm AEDST
The out-of-form Perth Wildcats host the up-and-down New Zealand Breakers in a rematch of finals matches of years gone by.
Perennial top four placers, the Wildcats and Breakers have both stumbled through 2018 so far.
Any win has been followed up by an uncharacteristic loss, something which fans have not been accustomed to, particularly when watching these two veteran teams.
What is guaranteed when these old foes meet though is a high quality contest, full of energy, passion and a close scoreline.
New Zealand were too good for Perth in their first two meetings this season, winning once in Auckland and once in Perth.
The Wildcats got revenge with a win in Auckland late last year, but will be looking to even the season series on Saturday night.
Perth produced one of their worst weekend’s of basketball in recent memory, losing back-to-back games to the Sydney Kings.
A poor Friday night performance at home was followed up by a dreadful game on the road, where they managed only 21 second half points, amassing just 56 for the entire match.
The thumping was one of the biggest wins in Kings franchise history, while the Wildcats were restricted to their second lowest tally ever.
Perth are desperately out of form and lack the offensive firepower to match a Breakers team that despite its inconsistencies, is able to put the ball in the hoop.
New Zealand won’t fear a visit to Perth as they have conquered Perth Arena many times before, and as 4.5 point underdogs, are the pick of the round.
We are confident that the Breakers are catching Perth when they are slipping and should even win outright.
Best bet- New Zealand Breakers to cover +4.5 points at $1.94
Value bet- New Zealand Breakers to win at $2.67 at Sportsbet
Sydney Kings versus Melbourne United
Sunday, 28 January 2018 at 3.05pm AEDST
The Sydney Kings gave fans a glimpse into the future with a commanding 84-56 win against the Perth Wildcats on Sunday afternoon.
After welcoming back guard Kevin Lisch, the Kings finally clicked for the first time all season, enough to put a smile on coach Andrew Gaze’s face.
The Kings excelled in all aspects on Sunday, being offensively efficient and have the best defensive intensity we have seen from them for a full game all season.
What will impress Kings fans the most was the fact that that performance came on the back of an equally as impressive win at Perth Arena just two nights earlier.
Sydney now face another test on Sunday when they welcome Melbourne United to town.
Melbourne are one of the hottest proposition in the NBL at the moment and despite the loss of Casey Prather, this team has propelled into favouritism to win the 2017-18 NBL title.
As they showed on Saturday afternoon, one quarter of high scoring can blow a game open and 38 points in the third quarter was enough to separate United from the Brisbane Bullets.
United have had their way with Sydney all season, winning all three encounters by 10+ points.
Despite Sydney beating Perth twice, the Wildcats don’t possess the same offensive weapons that United do and United should roll through Sydney.
Best bet- Melbourne United to cover -2.5 points at $1.90
NBL week 16 odds
Melbourne $1.24 Cairns $4
Brisbane $2.69 Adelaide $1.50
Perth $1.48 New Zealand $2.67
Sydney $2.25 Melbourne $1.65
Illawarra $1.42 Cairns $2.89
*All odds provided by Sportsbet
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