Wed, Oct 26, 2:51pm by Head Editor
After an outstanding pre-season, the last-placed Cairns Taipans are still winless after three rounds of the new NBL season.
It may not sound like too much cause for concern, considering the season is still so young but they already have to buck the trend of history as no team has made the final four from a 0-3 start since the modern 40-minute era began in 1984.
Things don’t get any easier for the Taipans either, they host one of the most impressive squad in the league to tip-off the round. Melbourne are yet to hit their straps either this season but have a strong list of players who will go in as favourites at $1.56 with the snakes at $2.44 to finally open their account.
The good news for the Taipans is that this NBL season is shaping up as one of the tightest ever, so all is not lost.
The Kings are at the other end of the spectrum after winning four games in a row to be top of the ladder. In more good news for the club, they will be joined by ex- Detroit Piston guard Steve Blake this week.
The 36-year-old NBA journeyman played for no fewer than 10 NBA teams over his 13-year career. Blake is set to arrive in Sydney on Thursday night and will have just two training sessions with his new teammates before playing against Brisbane at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday.
The Bullets are one of three teams sitting on three wins after defeating the Breakers at home 88-82. Coach Andrej Lemanis would have had an insight into his former club and it paid off when his Bullets hosted NZ for the first time.
There is another team who’s put together a winning streak of four in a row, the reigning champions, Perth Wildcats. Their most recent outing was a gripping 72-69 away win in Melbourne on Sunday.
Olympian Damian Martin was crucial in the victory with 13 rebounds, seven points and five assists but unfortunately he re-injured the jaw he broke last season when he collided with United’s Majok Majok.
To make matters worse for the Wildcats, the team’s other point guard, Jarrod Kenny, also went down with an injury in the same game, a groin strain. This makes the already tough road trip to Illawarra even more challenging on Friday.
The Hawks have their own worries though, they’ve dropped four games in a row after opening their season with a 122-88 victory over the 36ers. Sportsbet has the Wildcats as slight outsiders at $1.94 with the Hawks at $1.86.
The 36ers comfortably defeated Cairns last week but next up they face an even tougher challenge when they travel across the ditch to play the Breakers who will be looking to bounce back from their loss to the Bullets.
American import Jerome Randle shot the lights out in Adelaide’s win over Cairns, finishing with 23 points, he’ll need to be at his best again if the 36ers ($2.67) can cause a boilover against the Breakers ($1.48).
BEST BET: Although the Hawks have dropped four in a row, I’m taking them to beat Perth Wildcats this week. It’s extremely hard to lose both point guards to injury for the same game: $1.86
Cairns Taipans ($2.44) v Melbourne United ($1.56), Cairns Convention Centre, Thursday October 27, 7.30pm AEDT
Illawarra Hawks ($1.86) v Perth Wildcats ($1.94), WIN Entertainment Centre, Friday October 28, 7:30pm AEDT
New Zealand Breakers ($1.48) v Adelaide 36ers ($2.67), Vector Arena, Saturday October 29, 5:30pm AEDT
Sydney Kings ($1.48) v Brisbane Bullets ($2.67), Qudos Bank Arena, Sunday October 30, 3:00pm AEDT
Illawarra Hawks ($1.56) v Cairns Taipans ($2.44), WIN Entertainment Centre, Sunday October 30, 7:00pm AEDT
All times are Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time*
Odds sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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