The 2018-19 NBL Semi-Finals are upon us as just four teams remain. After a gruelling regular season that was one of the tightest in recent memory, we now have the two semi-finals series schedules set in stone. Game 1 for both series will be played on Thursday night, which will see 1st host 4th and 2nd host 3rd in the first of a three-game series. See our previews and predictions for each game below and good luck to everyone following!
First up on Thursday night we’ve got a blockbuster game at Melbourne Arena with Melbourne United hosting the Sydney Kings. United won the regular season series against the Kings 3-1, although the Kings won the most recent meeting on February 8 (97-85). That win by the Kings put an end to United’s 10-game winning streak in their head-to-heads.
Melbourne United capped off another terrific season with an overtime victory over the Wildcats in their final regular season game. That win wasn’t enough to propel them into first spot in the standings, but it was enough to give them home court advantage in this semi-final match-up with the Kings. United finished the season with an 18-10 record, which had them sandwiched between the Wildcats and the Kings.
The Sydney Kings were able to live up to their pre-season hype with a wonderful regular season, where they too ended up with an overall record of 18-10. They may not have done enough to secure home-court advantage in the finals, but they did do enough to restore some faith in the fans that have had to endure a few lean seasons. Another positive was the return of Andrew Bogut to his motherland, as he has recently been named the Most Valuable Player in the league.
This should be an epic opening game between the two biggest fan supported teams in Australian basketball. In terms of value for Game 1, it’s hard to go past a play on Melbourne United’s spread. They’ve won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Kings and haven’t lost at home to them in over two years. We expect they will use their experience to get the job done on Thursday night, covering the small spread in the process.
The second semi-final Game 1 on Thursday night will see Perth Wildcats host the Brisbane Bullets at Perth Arena. These two teams couldn’t be split in their four game regular season series, ending up tied at two wins apiece. Their most recent meeting was back in December 2018, where they Bullets ran out seven point winners at home (93-86).
The Perth Wildcats weren’t able to cap off yet another brilliant season with a win in their last game, as they were defeated by United on the road by 11 points in overtime. That loss put an end to what was a league high six-game winning streak. Despite their recent loss, they still put in enough winning performances to finish on top of the standings with an 18-10 record and a percentage that was superior to United’s and the Kings.
The Brisbane Bullets had one of the most bizarre seasons of any team in the league this campaign. At no stage were they a lock to play in the finals, up until their final win of the season against the Breakers at home. That win corrected what was a poor stretch for the Bullets, where they had lost five of their last six games. They may not have had the successes of the other three teams in the finals, but they’ve earned themselves a chance to compete for a spot in the Grand Final.
There’s no doubting that the Wildcats had the superior regular season of the two teams here. However, the Bullets match up really well with them and have the defensive versatility to keep Bryce Cotton and co. in control for long stretches. We expect the underdogs to push the minor premiers all the way in this one, perhaps even ending up with the win on enemy soil.
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