After one of the most exciting NBL seasons in recent memory, the Grand Final is now upon us! Both the Perth Wildcats and Melbourne United swept their opponents in the semi-finals to set up a blockbuster best-of-five game series that is set to get underway on Friday, the 8th of March. Check out our preview and betting picks for the Grand Final series below!
There were plenty that were doubting the prospects of the Perth Wildcats before the embarked on their 2018-19 campaign. They lost a star player in JP Tokoto in the off-season and didn’t recruit as well as they’d have liked. However, they’ve defied the odds yet again and find themselves in a Grand Final series for the seventh time in the last 10 seasons (4x winners in that span).
The Wildcats have gone through plenty of swings of momentum during this campaign. They started off the season in terrific fashion, winning 10 of their first 11 games to pull clear of the rest of the competition. However, they then lost two of their next 10 games in a trying stretch for their ball club, but managed to regain momentum to close with eight wins from their last nine games to clinch top spot in the standings. They then went on to make light work of the Bullets in the semi-finals with two straight forward wins to sweep their way to a Grand Final match up with last year’s champions.
It was always going to be a difficult season with for Melbourne United with plenty of ups and downs along the way. Coming off a season where they were crowned champions is always hard, but they’ve met all expectations this campaign and find themselves in a Grand Final series for a second straight season.
Melbourne United pretty much had their season go exactly to plan to this point. They were dealt with injuries to key players throughout the regular season, but never took the foot off the gas and were able to remain consistent. Like the Wildcats, United finished the regular season with an 18-10 record and made light work of their opponents in the semi-finals.
2018-19 Regular Season Meetings
27/10/2018 Perth Wildcats vs Melbourne Victory (101-96)
17/12/2018 Perth Wildcats @ Melbourne Victory (65-82)
20/1/2019 Perth Wildcats vs Melbourne Victory (84-79)
17/2/2019 Perth Wildcats @ Melbourne Victory (70-81)
The home team won all four regular season meetings between these teams this season, however, the playoffs, as well all know, are a completely different beast. The Wildcats hold the homecourt advantage in this best-of-five game series, which has them enter as slight favourites over United. It makes sense that they do enter as favourites, but we simply don’t agree. United have firepower all over the court and will have four of the six best players on the court after tip-off. We expect them to pinch either Game 1 or Game 3 on the road and take care of business at home in Game 2 and 4, which will ultimately end the series in favour of Melbourne 3-1 in front of their home fans.
Chris Goulding was the recipient of the Finals MVP in last season’s title winning year for Melbourne United, and we see no reason why it won’t be the case again this time around. He may have a different role coming off the bench, but as we saw in the semi-finals, he can light it up quickly and completely turn a game on its head. Bryce Cotton (Wildcats) and Casper Ware Jr (United) are the two clear favourites with the bookies, but we see real value in Goulding at the $7 mark.
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