The 2018-19 NBL season is finally here and we’ve been blessed with some mouth-watering matchups for the first round of action. We’ve provided a quick preview and best bet for all matches in the opening round, which kicks off on Thursday, October 11. Good luck to all following!
New Zealand Breakers vs Brisbane Bullets (Thursday, 5:20pm AEDT)
The opening game of the 2018-19 season looks to be a good one with the Breakers hosting the Bullets in Auckland. The Breakers made quite a few changes to their roster that made a decent playoff run last season, but still have quality littered throughout. On the other hand, the Bullets will be hoping to improve on last season’s dismal record, although they come into the first game of the year with a fairly similar looking roster.
New Zealand are always one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play and we expect this season to be no different. The Breakers are good value to get off to a winning start.
Adelaide 36ers vs Perth Wildcats (Thursday, 7:50pm AEDT)
The 36ers have lost a few of their key players in Mitch Creek and Josh Childress and will be relying heavily on Nathan Sobey this season. We haven’t seen Sobey play as a primary option on offence yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes. Meanwhile, the Wildcats will welcome back their star backcourt of Damian Martin and Bryce Cotton for another season and will be expecting to be contending for the silverware once again.
With the 36ers roster going through some major changes we’re happy to oppose them in the opening rounds of the season. Take the Wildcats here.
Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United (Friday, 7:50pm AEDT)
Our first Friday night game is a beauty between the Illawarra Hawks and Melbourne United. The Hawks came home strong last season but failed to make the playoffs and will be looking for better results this season. However, they’ll have to adapt to having no Rotnei Clarke in the squad, who has been their best option on offence for a number of years. In contrast, Melbourne United will be looking to continue on from last season where they were the best team in the competition and deservedly won the NBL Championship.
Like the 36ers, we can see the Hawks struggling in the early part of the season as they’ve lost a few key players. United should be too good for them in this one.
Sydney Kings vs Adelaide 36ers (Saturday, 2:50pm AEDT)
Championship favourites, Sydney Kings will begin their 2018-19 campaign on Saturday afternoon when they host the Adelaide 36ers. The Kings have welcomed back Jerome Randle for another season alongside star backcourt partner Kevin Lisch. Additionally, they’ve attained the services of NBA veteran Andrew Bogut, who should excel in the NBL’s 10-minute quarter, 28-game season. Meanwhile, the 36ers will play their second game of the season just two days after their first, which will make for even more of a challenge when they face the flag fancies.
As mentioned above, we’re keen to oppose the 36ers in the early rounds, especially with them coming off a one-day break against a quality outfit like the Kings.
Brisbane Bullets vs Cairns Taipans (Saturday, 7:50pm AEDT)
The Brisbane Bullets continue their new season on Saturday night when they host the Cairns Taipans. The Bullets face the tough task of travelling back from Auckland to play two days later in Brisbane, while the Taipans will be fresh and ready to go for their season opener and will be looking to make a playoff push this season. The Snakes welcome back Nate Jawai from injury, as well as handy combo guard DJ Newbill from the Breakers.
We like a play on the Taipans to record a big win on Saturday night against a sore and tired Bullets outfit.
Melbourne United vs New Zealand Breakers (Sunday, 2:50pm AEDT)
The reigning champions will play their first home game of the season on Sunday afternoon when the host the New Zealand Breaker, just a few months after knocking them out of the playoffs. We expect this one to be a fiery encounter between two of the most talented rosters in the competition. We’ll also be witnessing two of the best guards in the competition in Casper Ware and Corey Webster going head to head, which will be a great little contest in itself.
This one is a tough one to predict, but we feel that the Breakers may struggle with the long travel and short turnaround factor, just like the Bullets.
Perth Wildcats vs Illawarra Hawks (Sunday, 5:20pm AEDT)
The final game of the opening round is over in Western Australia with the Perth Wildcats hosting the Illawarra Hawks in what should wrap up an exciting round of basketball. It’ll be interesting to see how the Hawks plan to contain reigning NBL MVP Bryce Cotton, who got off the leash on a few occasions last season. Another thing to consider is that both teams will be playing their second game in three days, which could mean fitness level plays a part.
We have the Wildcats contending for the Championship this year, which means they must take care of weaker opposition at home and that’s exactly what this game represents.
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