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With top spot assured, 36ers favoured over second-placed Hawks

Wed, Jan 25, 5:51pm by Head Editor

The Adelaide 36ers have top spot in the NBL wrapped up with four games to spare, but can really mess with second-placed Illawarra’s run to the playoffs when they travel to Wollongong on Saturday night,

Wins over Sydney and Brisbane last weekend, plus the Hawks’ loss to Cairns, meant the 36ers iced top spot with four games remaining.

Now they get to focus on being ready for the semi-finals, and they are $1.61 favourites when they travel to Illawarra to face the Hawks ($2.20) on Saturday night.

Illawarra are on 12 wins and 12 losses, the same as the Breakers and have their fortunes very much in their own hands.

The Hawks are coming off an 85-79 loss in Cairns and will need to improve on that performance dramatically if they are to beat the newly crowned minor premiers.

New Zealand can go into outright second on the ladder with a win over Cairns in the opening match of the round on Thursday. The Breakers will head into the contest with plenty of confidence after defeating their Grand Final nemesis from last season, the Wildcats.

Kirk Penney finished with 25 points and Kevin Dillard had 20 in the four-point win. I’m taking the hosts at $1.53 to beat the Taipans ($2.37).

Melbourne United and defending champion Perth Wildcats have identical records on the season of 11-12 and they meet in a huge clash in Perth on Saturday night.

Despite their close loss in New Zealand on Sunday, the Wildcats are not expected to have too much trouble in this one and I’ll be taking them at $1.53. United are a $2.37 outsider after they were smashed by 17 points in Brisbane on Saturday.

This is the same Bullets team that are sitting on the bottom of the ladder and became the first team to be eliminated from the finals race last weekend.

Brisbane host the Kings on Friday in a match that the bookies are having trouble finding a favourite for. Both sides are $1.83 but it’s the Kings who desperately need the win as they currently sit just outside the top four, amazing considering they lead the league until Round 11.

On Sunday, the Kings ($1.72) host the Breakers ($2) in the afternoon and then that evening the Taipans ($1.53) host the Bullets ($2.37).

Suggested Bet: Take the Breakers to beat the Taipans and Perth to beat Melbourne: $2.34

Round Seventeen:

New Zealand Breakers ($1.53) v Cairns Taipans ($2.37), North Shore Events Centre, 5:30pm, Thursday 26 January

Brisbane Bullets ($1.83) v Sydney Kings ($1.83), Brisbane Convention Centre, 7:30pm, Friday 27 January

Illawarra Hawks ($2.20) v Adelaide 36ers ($1.61), WIN Entertainment Centre, 7:30pm, Saturday 28 January

Perth Wildcats ($1.53) v Melbourne United ($2.37), Perth Arena, 9:30pm, Saturday 28 January

Sydney Kings ($1.72) v New Zealand Breakers ($2), Qudos Bank Arena, 3pm, Sunday 29 January

Cairns Taipans ($1.53) v Brisbane Bullets ($2.37), Cairns Convention Centre, 7pm, Sunday 29 January

All times are Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time*

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