WHILE the NBA is still a few weeks away our very own NBL stars are set to return to the court.
Here’s our best bets for the action ahead:
Perth Wildcats v Brisbane Bullets
The only question here is why is the line still sitting at 5.5?!
The defending champions open their season on their home court against Brisbane and everyone is keen to see Bryce Cotton go head2head with Stephen Holt.
These two elite scorers will certainly be the focal point of their team’s offence and we could be in for an absolute shootout in the West.
Last season, Brisbane averaged a league-worst 81 points per game and while the addition of Holt will inject some much needed scoring into this team there’s still a lot more work to do for the Bullets overall.
Luckily for Holt is that the team also have new signing Travis Trice to lean on for points, with the former Taipan scoring at will against the Wildcats in last season’s semi-finals.
The athletic ability on display for the Bullets new recruits has many believing they could genuinely push for a top four spot this year, but a trip to Perth is never easy – let along on opening night.
We’ve seen two absolute shootouts already this season and it’s hard to see this one falling Under the points total with all the offensive talent on display from both sides.
Brisbane will deploy a fast-tempo brand of basketball this season and that could result in a lot of easy baskets in transition for Andrej Lemanis’ team this season.
We’re projecting this one to eclipse the Overs 68% of the time and feel confident that Perth will do more than enough to stay with the Bullets up-tempo style.
Tip: Over 164.5 points @ $1.90
Cairns Taipans v Illawarra Hawks
Cairns surprised everyone last season as their gritty defence and off-the-ball hustle saw them force their way into the top four by season’s end.
It’s a testament to the culture being instilled by Aaron Fearne up north and we expect a very similar brand of basketball being played by the Taipans this season.
They’re very much a defence first team and that will be the foundation to their success again this year. Their addition of Jerry Evans as a short-term replacement is testament to that.
Evans has the length and activity on defence to disrupt the offence of his opponents and those deflections and turnovers will make him an instant hit with the Taipans coach.
Last season, Nate Jawai dominated this Hawks side in the paint but the addition of import centre Delvon Johnson should help alleviate some of the damage he does in the paint.
With both sides boasting strong paint presence there will be a big emphasis for their shooters to find rhythm early, but with the Taipans harrying defence coupled with their hot-and-cold offence it could lead to a lot of empty trips for both sides.
We’ve got a strong lean on the Unders in this one and while it won’t have the same back-and-forth tempo of yesterday’s opener it will certainly go down to the wire once more.
Our model is projecting this one to fall Under the points total 68% of the time and we feel it to be a stronger percentage than that given the general nature of both sides.
Tip: Under 166.5 points @ $1.88
New Zealand Breakers v Cairns Taipans
Write-up to come . . .
Adelaide 36ers v Melbourne United
The big question for Adelaide is whether this team can lift without last season’s star Jerome Randle.
An opening night tip-off against arguably the best team in the league probably isn’t what they need to find their feet – especially when United have a big point to prove after last season’s disappointments.
Casper Ware is certainly an MVP candidate and he’ll have plenty of fun operating the point with the talent around him, in particular a healthy again Chris Goulding.
The team looks to have gelled well in pre-season under new coach Dean Vickerman and we love the price available on the competition favourites.
Adelaide have a lot of re-building to do and while we don’t doubt that they’ll be competitive throughout the season we can’t see keeping up with Melbourne’s high-powered offence in this one.
There’s great value on United straight-up in this one for anyone looking to add them to their multi slips. Our model is projecting a comfortable cover for Melbourne in this one, with the favourites covering at least 72% of the time.
If Melbourne’s offence clicks from the start this one could be over by the half.
Tip: Melbourne United -2.5 @ $1.88