The twists and turns of the NBL season have left us with one huge cliffhanger – who’s finishing on top of the ladder?
It’s a razor tight Top 4, and it all boils down to a regular season finale between Melbourne and Perth on Sunday afternoon.
There’s also plenty on the line for the likes of the 36ers and Bullets, both of which are facing a “do or die” type scenario for a spot in the Top 4.
So who should you be backing in this chaotic round of hoops? Be sure to check out our entire 2018/19 NBL Round 18 Preview below.
New Zealand Breakers Vs Illawarra Hawks
Thursday February 14, 5:20pm, TSB Arena
The Breakers meet the Hawks for the second week in a row following last week’s impressive 96-81 win on the road. The loss put a fork in Illawarra’s remaining finals hopes, but at least there’s a chance to end the season on a high note.
With home-court advantage this time around, the Breakers enter as the rightful favourites. New Zealand are 11-5 against the Hawks in this scenario, with their last home game against Illawarra resulting in a 96-79 blowout win back in December.
The Hawks didn’t do a whole lot wrong last week, they just couldn’t hit a three-point shot. Illawarra finished the game a measly 26% from beyond the arc, while the Breakers were spectacular shooting 54% from the field. Since New Zealand have looked tough to beat at home this year, it’s tough to see the Hawks’ fortunes changing.
Tip: Back the Breakers to Cover The Line (-5.5 Points) @ $1.90
Melbourne United Vs Cairns Taipans
Thursday February 14, 7:50pm, Melbourne Arena
Even after holding on for a two-point win over the 36ers, Melbourne’s 12-point loss to the Kings last week ultimately cost them the top spot on the ladder. United now find themselves tied on percentage points with the Wildcats, setting up a pivotal home game against this year’s wooden spooners.
Cairns snapped their five-game losing streak last week in a nine-point win over the Bullets at home. Melo Trimble’s 23-point effort proved the difference, but it’s worth noting Cairns still struggled from beyond the three-point line.
United have won four straight over Cairns dating back to last season, although they did need an extra quarter of overtime to walk away with a 10-point win last month. Even so, there’s too much on the line for United to let this slip, and with a 16-1 record as the home favourite against the Taipans, they should have no trouble putting the pressure back on Perth.
Tip: Back Melbourne To Win By 11+ @ $2.25
Perth Wildcats Vs Adelaide 36ers
Friday February 15, 9:50pm, RAC Arena
There’s so much on the line for both of these sides. A win for Perth would guarantee top spot on the ladder heading into the finals, while a victory for the 36ers would also secure fourth-place and a date with either the Wildcats or Melbourne next week.
After a late season hump, Perth have bounced back strongly to win five straight games, the most recent of which being a 95-86 win over the Kings in overtime. The Wildcats have also won four-straight home games, but there’s reason to suggest the 36ers could spoil the party.
Adelaide lost to Melbourne last week in a closely fought two-point game. It’s been an up and down season for the 36ers, but keep in mind, they have won three of their last five over Perth – including a one-point road win at RAC Arena back in September..
Points have proven hard to come by when these two teams meet. The points tally has failed to go over 200 in their last five games, but the question is, can Adelaide handle the pressure with their season on the line?
With five wins in their last six road games, the answer most certainly is yes.
Tip: Back the 36ers To Win @ $2.35
Sydney Kings Vs Cairns Taipans
Saturday February 16, 2:50pm, Qudos Bank Arena
The Kings have really received the luck of the draw this week. Now sitting third on the ladder following last week’s overtime loss to Perth, Sydney have a chance to make up ground with a game in hand against the NBL’s worst side.
Cairns last beat the Kings back in 2017, but since then have lost five straight. Even more alarming, the Taipans have also lost their last five trips to Sydney, with the most recent coming in an eight-point overtime loss back in October.
The Kings have opened as eight-point favourites, which seems a little generous considering the disparity between the two sides. With Cairns backing up on a day’s rest following Thursday’s game meeting with Melbourne, this looks a safe bet.
Tip: Back the Kings to Cover The Line (-7.5 Points) @ $1.85
Brisbane Bullets Vs New Zealand Breakers
Saturday February 16, 7:50pm, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
The Bullets’ path to the finals is pretty simple. The Wildcats need to beat Adelaide in Perth on Friday night for Brisbane to face a “win and you’re in” type scenario on Saturday night against the Breakers.
Nothing about the task ahead is easy for Brisbane, although they do have to feel pretty confident with a traveling Breakers side coming to town. New Zealand beat Brisbane at home back in November by a point, but on such short rest following Thursday’s home game against the Hawks, it’s not surprising to see the Bullets as favourites.
Brisbane only have themselves to blame if they fail to make the Top 4. The Bullets’ 11-point loss to Cairns last week was a low point in what has otherwise been a very up and down season, and since they’ve won only two of their last four home games, it’s hard to find any confidence in Brisbane with their season on the line.
The Breakers might be on short rest, but as we saw last week in Sydney, they are capable of winning big road games. With a 3-1 record against the spread as the road underdog vs. Brisbane, this should be a nail-biter.
Tip: Back the Breakers at the Line (+4.5 Points) @ $1.85
Melbourne United Vs Perth Wildcats
Sunday February 17, 2:50pm, Melbourne Arena
Not for the first time this year, the NBL schedule has saved the best ’till last.
Depending on prior results, this could be a battle for outright first on the ladder, and if it’s anything like January’s meeting, this game might come down to the wire.
Melbourne enter as the favourites at home in front of what should be a raucous crowd. United haven’t lost at home to Perth since 2016, and are an impressive 13-4 as the home favourite over the last 12-months.
With that in mind, the Wildcats have won five-straight games entering Round 18, but they’ll face a tough rebound following Friday’s game against the 36ers.
Tip: Back Melbourne To Win By 1-10 @ $2.60
It is the penultimate weekend of the NBL regular season and we are set for not one, but two top-of-the-table clashes this weekend.
Melbourne United can secure the minor premiership with a pair of wins over the New Zealand Breakers, while the Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats also remain in the hunt for the minor premiership.
We have analysed every game set to take place in the NBL this weekend and our complete NBL Round 18 tips can be found below.
Brisbane Bullets Vs Illawarra Hawks
Thursday February 8, 7:30pm, Brisbane Convention Centre
The Brisbane Bullets have the home-court advantage, but it is the Illawarra Hawks that will start this clash as favourites.
Brisbane parted company with key import Perrin Buford during the week and they will go into this clash with a very young side.
The Bullets have won only one of their past nine games and they have not beaten the Hawks since their return to the NBL.
Illawarra have won only one of their past five games and they quickly slipped out of finals contention in the second half of the season.
The Hawks don’t have a great record on the road, but they have won their past three games at the Brisbane Convention Centre and they should prove too strong for an under-strength Bullets outfit.
Back Illawarra Hawks To Win @ $1.80
Melbourne United Vs New Zealand Breakers
Friday February 9, 7:30pm, Hisense Arena
This is a potential Grand Final Preview and it is Melbourne United that will start this clash as clear favourites.
Melboure United have won 11 of their past 12 games and they have clearly been the benchmark in the second half of the season.
They have won nine of their past 12 games as home favourites and they are 7-5 against the line in this scenario.
The New Zealand Breakers recorded a pair of wins over the Illawarra Hawks last weekend, but this is a much tougher challenge.
New Zealand have won five of their past ten games as away underdogs for a big profit and they have won six of their past nine games against Melbourne United in this scenario.
There is not as much between these two sides as the current market suggests and New Zealand really do appeal at their current price of $2.80.
Perth Wildcats Vs Cairns Taipans
Friday February 9, 9:30pm, Perth Arena
The Perth Wildcats are the shortest-priced favourites in the NBL this weekend.
Perth split a series with the Adelaide 36ers last weekend and they really should prove too strong for the Cairns Taipans.
The Wildcats have won 12 of their past 16 games as home favourites and they have covered the line in each of these wins.
The Cairns Taipans have won only one of their past six games and they have struggled in the second half of the season.
Cairns have won only three of their past 14 games and their record against the line is no better.
The line is big, but Perth should be far too strong for their rivals.
Back Perth Wildcats To Beat The Line (-10.5 Points)
Sydney Kings Vs Brisbane Bullets
Saturday February 10, 5:30pm, Qudos Bank Arena
The wooden spoon could well be on the line in this clash between the Sydney Kings and the Brisbane Bullets.
It is Sydney that will start this clash as favourites and they have shown some promising signs over the past fortnight – Jerome Randle in particular has come into his own.
The Kings have still only won three of their past six games as home favourites and are a tough team to trust from a betting standpoint.
Brisbane have won only three of their past 13 games as away underdogs, but they are 7-2-4 against the line in this scenario.
There is not as much between these two teams as the current market suggests and the Bullets can cover the line with a start.
Back Brisbane To Beat The Line (+5.5 Points)
New Zealand Breakers Vs Melbourne United
Sunday February 11, 1:00pm, Spark Arena
This is the second game between the New Zealand Breakers and Melbourne United this weekend.
New Zealand are always a tough side to beat in front of their home fans and they have won eight of their past 11 games as home favourites, while they have been a profitable betting play against the line in this scenario.
Melbourne United have won only two of their past five games as away underdogs and they have covered the line in just one of their past 12 games against New Zealand in New Zealand.
The Breakers to cover the line is one of the best betting plays of the weekend.
Back New Zealand To Beat The Line (-3.5 Points)
Illawarra Hawks Vs Adelaide 36ers
Sunday February 11, 3:00pm, Win Entertainment Centre
The Adelaide 36ers recorded two big wins over the Illawarra Hawks a fortnight ago and they are favourites to win this clash.
Winning away from home has not been an issue and they have won two of their past three games as away favourites, but they are only 6-8 against the line in this scenario.
Illawarra have won one of their past three games as home underdogs and backing them against the line in front of their home fans has been a losing betting play this season.
This is a game that the market looks to have just about right and I will be staying out from a betting perspective.
This is the penultimate round of the NBL season and we are set for a number of big games this weekend.
The Sydney Kings host Melbourne United on Saturday night in a crucial clash for both sides and there is always plenty of tension when these teams do battle.
Melbourne will be in action against on Monday against the Illawarra Hawks in a clash that is likely to be a Playoffs preview.
There is plenty of the line in every single clash this weekend and you can find our tips for each below.
Illawarra Hawks Vs Cairns Taipans
Friday February 3, 7:30pm, Win Entertainment Centre
The Illawarra Hawks and the Cairns Taipans both currently sit inside the top four and this is a crucial clash for both sides.
Illawarra will go into this clash as favourites following their narrow victory over Adelaide last weekend, but their record as home favourites is not particularly strong – they have won just seven of their past 13 games in this scenario and they are 4-9 against the line.
Cairns leaped into playoffs contention with three straight victories and they will go into this clash with plenty of confidence.
While their recent form has been good, Cairns have only won four of their past 13 games as away underdogs and they are 5-8 against the line in this scenario.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
Perth Wildcats Vs Brisbane Bullets
Friday February 3, 9:30pm, Perth Arena
This is just about a must-win clash for both sides.
The Perth Wildcats are the shortest-priced favourites of the weekend and they head into this clash on the back of a tough effort against Melbourne United.
Perth have won 12 of their past 16 games as home favourites for a narrow profit, but they are 7-1-8 against the line in this scenario.
Brisbane have lost six of their past seven games and they have won just four of their past 12 games as away underdogs.
The Bullets are 5-7 against the line in this scenario and they have really been tough to trust from a betting standpoint.
This is another game that I am happy to stay out and there really is no value on offer.
Adelaide 36ers Vs New Zealand Breakers
Saturday February 4, 5:30pm, Titanium Security Arena
The Adelaide 36ers had their winning streak snapped by the Illawarra Hawks, but they will still go into this clash as clear favourites.
Adelaide have been the safest betting team in the NBL this season and they have won eight of their past nine games as home favourites, while they are 7-2 against the line in this scenario.
New Zealand dropped out of the top four following back-to-back losses at the hands of the Cairns Taipans and the Sydney Kings.
The Breakers have won six of their past 17 games as away underdogs for a clear loss, but they are 9-1-7 against the line in this situation.
There is no team in the NBL that can match it with Adelaide on their day and the 36ers should be able to cover the line comfortably.
Back Adelaide To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
Sydney Kings Vs Melbourne United
Saturday February 4, 7:30pm, Qudos Bank Arena
Melbourne United have dropped back to seventh position on the NBL Ladder and desperately need to return to winning form against the Sydney Kings.
The Kings have won two games on the trot and they will go into this clash as home favourites, but they haven’t really thrived in this scenario – they have won just eight of their past 14 games as home favourites and are 6-8 against the line.
Melbourne United have struggled badly away from home this season and they have won just one of their past six games as away underdogs for a clear loss.
Both these teams are tough to trust from a betting standpoint, but the homecourt advantage and their recent form should give the Kings the edge.
Back Sydney Kings To Beat The Line (-3.5 Points)
Cairns Taipans Vs Perth Wildcats
Sunday February 5, 3:00pm, Cairns Convention Centre
Both these teams are on the quick back-up after playing earlier in the week.
Cairns are one of the form teams in the NBL and they have won five of their past eight games as home favourites for a narrow profit, while they are 4-4 against the line in this scenario.
The Perth Wildcats have struggled to win away from home, but they are 7-6 against the line as away underdogs and they have won three of the past four games played between these teams.
This should be a very tight clash and I am keen to back the Wildcats with a start of 2.5 points.
Back Perth Wildcats To Beat The Line (+2.5 Points)
Melbourne United Vs Illawarra Hawks
Monday February 6, 7:30pm, Hisense Arena
Melbourne United will go into this clash as home favourites, but they continue to be a tough team to trust from a betting perspective.
They have won only eight of their past 13 games as home favourites, but they do have the same record against the line – when they win, they win big.
Consistency has been the issue for the Illawarra Hawks this season and their record as away underdogs is 5-9 in both head-to-head and line betting markets,
Melbourne United can be a tough team to trust, but they do look well-placed to cover the line of 3.5 points.
Back Melbourne United To Beat The Line (-3.5 Points)