2019/20 NBL Round 20 Preview

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The NBL’s home and away season comes to a close this weekend, but not before we determine the razor-tight finals race.

The minor premiership is still up for grabs between the Kings and the Wildcats, while the Breakers, Bullets and Melbourne fight it out for the fourth seed one last time.

Never has an NBL season come down to the wire quite like this, so be sure to read our entire Round 20 Preview below.

Melbourne United Vs Cairns Taipans

Thursday, February 13 ,Melbourne Arena, 7:30pm

It’ ‘win or go home’ for Dean Vickerman’s side as United find themselves on the outside looking in.

At 13-13, a win on Thursday night and a Breakers or Bullets loss would put United equal with New Zealand and Brisbane in terms of wins and losses. But with another game in hand on Sunday against the Phoenix, United is in complete control of its own destiny.

Vickerman’s job this week is to ensure his team takes it one game at a time. Melbourne will know full well that the third-place Taipans aren’t to be taken lightly, but with home-court advantage and a big win over the Hawks under their belt, United still has plenty to feel confident about.

Cairns, meanwhile, also has plenty to play for with a very faint chance of pinching the second spot away from the Wildcats. The Taipans can’t fall any further than third, but they’ll also feel confident knowing they’ve won four straight over Melbourne dating back to last season.

In case you’ve missed it, the Taipans have been one of the better teams to back at the line this year covering in 15 of their 26 games. The three games between these two sides this season have been decided by seven points or less though, so it’s worth taking Cairns to keep this close.

Tip: Back the Taipans to Cover the Line (+3.5 Points) @ $1.90

New Zealand Breakers Vs S.E. Melbourne Phoenix

Friday, February 14 , Horncastle Arena, 5:30pm

There’s one last chapter to write in New Zealand’s cinderella story as they look to secure a finals spot with a win over the Phoenix on Friday night.

A jam-packed crowd in Christchurch is expected for this game, and as the odds suggest, anything outside a Breakers blowout would be a huge surprise.  

The Kiwis are laying -7.5 in the midst of a three-game winning streak. New Zealand has been the best side to bet on all year at the line going 16-9-1 overall and 5-2 as the home favourite, making it almost impossible to back against the Breakers.

With only two wins from their last 12 games, the season can’t end soon enough for South-East Melbourne. After beating the Breakers in Round 5, the Phoenix have gone on to lose twice to the Kiwis.

The Phoenix have also been terrible this year on the road winning only three of their 10 games. With everything to play for and a raucous crowd behind them, this should be a comfortable New Zealand victory as they return to the finals for the first time since 2018.

Tip: Back the Breakers to Cover the Line (-7.5 Points) @ $1.90

Sydney Kings Vs Illawarra Hawks

Friday, February 14 , Qudos Bank Arena, 8pm

It can sometimes be a bit of a non-event when top and bottom get together, but this game still holds plenty of weight in terms of the finals seeding.  

The Kings hold a one-game buffer above the Wildcats, but they’ll need to take care of business if they wish to wrap up the minor premiership.

Sydney also stands a chance at becoming the first team in NBL history to lead the ladder in each week of the season, and although the rival Hawks will be eager to spoil the party, it’s difficult to see them doing so against a Kings side that has lost only twice at home all year.

Speaking of losses, Illawarra has lost nine games in a row ahead of Friday’s tilt. That being said, it is worth noting only four of the last 10 games between these two sides have been decided by 10-points or more, leaving the -12.5 line about Sydney looking a little generous.

There’s been absolutely nothing to like about the Hawks, so this pick is based entirely on Illawarra wanting to put up a fight against their rivals.

Illawarra also hold an impressive 9-1-3 record as the line underdog in away games against the Kings, so it’s worth having something on the visitors to keep this close.

Tip: Back the Hawks to Cover the Line (+12.5 Points) @ $1.90

Brisbane Bullets Vs Cairns Taipans

Saturday, February 15, Queensland State Netball Centre, 5:30pm

Nissan Arena will be in full voice on Saturday as the Bullets look to sneak into the top four with a big win over the Taipans.

Brisbane simply needs to win this game and have Melbourne and New Zealand lose if they wish to return to the finals, but unfortunately, that might be easier said than done against a very resilient Taipans team.

Cairns heads to Brisbane on short rest following their game against Melbourne on Thursday night, which explains the long odds on offer for the Taipans to pull off an upset. Cairns has also won only five of their 12 games on the road this year, making this a risky head-to-head bet either way.

The one piece of good news is the Taipans have been the best defensive side away from home. The Taipans have allowed the fewest points to opponents on the road this year, which should come in handy against a Bullets side that ranks sixth in points scored at home.

With the Taipans also a shot to steal the second spot on the ladder away from the Wildcats (should they beat Melbourne, of course), don’t be surprised if this turns out to be a close game. The Total has gone Under in the last five games between these two sides, so back it to be low scoring.

Tip: Under the Points Total

Perth Wildcats Vs Adelaide 36ers

Saturday, February 15, RAC Arena, 8pm

Should the Kings somehow lose to the Hawks on Friday, the Wildcats may just find themselves in line for a crack at the minor premiership.

Perth will have its hands full though against a 36ers side with nothing left to play for. Adelaide failed to make up ground on the ladder last week losing by 19-points to the Taipans, meaning the 36ers are simply out to end their season on a high note against the defending champs.

Adelaide has held the upper hand against the Wildcats this season winning two of the three meetings. That being said, the 36ers haven’t won on the road since Round 11, making this trip to Perth an enormous ask.

With these two sides coming in fresh, we could be in for a high-scoring game. With Perth looking to build some finals momentum at home, however, stick with the favourites.

Tip: Back the Wildcats 11+ @ $1.90

S.E. Melbourne Phoenix Vs Melbourne United

Sunday, February 16 , Melbourne Arena, 3pm

It’s only fitting that United’s finals chances might boil down to one last game against their inter-state rival.

The Phoenix got the better of United winning by three-points in the season-opener, but since then have gone on to lose twice to Melbourne in both blowout (110-98, Round 5) and narrow (96-95, Round 7) fashion.

The bookies are well and truly siding with United laying them as -6.5 favourites. That line looks about right considering the Phoenix have won only two of their last five games at time of publish, but with both sides playing on short rest, this could go right down to the wire.

United has been a typically poor side in the second game of a doubleheader weekend winning only three of their eight games. Only two of those wins have come by 10-points or more, so take Melbourne to win – but only narrowly.

Tip: Back Melbourne 1-10 @ $2.65