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United vs Hawks Prediction & Tips: NBL24 Semi-Finals Game 1

March 5th 2024, 6:13pm, By: Jake Smit

NBL24 Betting Tips

The NBL24 Play-In games have been completed and now just four teams remain in the hunt for the NBL Championship! The first of two three-game semi-finals series will get underway on Thursday night with Melbourne United hosting the Illawarra Hawks. Find our full Game 1 preview and best bet below!

Also, we’re providing previews and expert betting tips for every game of the NBL24 playoffs, so make sure to head over to our NBL Tips regularly to keep up to date with all of our content. 


NBL24 Semi-Finals Preview & Betting Tips

Melbourne United vs Illawarra Hawks (Game 1)

Thursday 7:30pm AEDT, March 7th, John Cain Arena

Having to wait for more than two weeks to find out their opponent in the semi-finals, Melbourne United will be itching to get out on the John Cain Arena court on Thursday night. Funnily enough, the last game United played was against the Hawks on February 18th, which they won by five points (92-87). 

United finished the regular season on top of the standings which is the position they occupied for nearly 100% of the season. They flew out of the blocks in NBL24 with eight wins from their first nine outings and never looked back.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of United’s regular season is the fact they never lost back-to-back games. That showcases just how resilient this group is and also tells you just how great of a job the coaching staff have done reviewing games and scouting upcoming opponents.

In contrast, the Illawarra Hawks were extremely slow out of the blocks in NBL24, with only two wins from their first nine games. That record, coupled with their wooden spoon in NBL23 led management to fire head coach Jacob Jackomas and announce Justin Tatum as the interim head coach. Of course, the ‘interim’ tag has now been removed due to the terrific job Tatum has done since taking the reins. 

The Hawks had to do it the hard way to make it to the semi-finals. They failed to defeat the JackJumpers in the Seeding Qualifier, which meant they faced the Breakers in a do-or-do Play-In game on Monday night. Of course, they managed to prevail in that clash, but only by the skin of their teeth (88-85).

The Hawks now face a far greater test on Thursday night when they travel to John Cain Arena where they’ve seldom enjoyed success in recent seasons. On top of that, star player Gary Clark looked far from 100% against the Breakers when scoring only seven points on 3/11 shooting, and he’ll need to be a lot more productive than that if his team’s to have any chance of a boil over.

Game prediction: The old ‘Rust vs Rest’ debate will rear its head in this game on Thursday night, and there’s still no answer to what’s more beneficial/detrimental to team success. However, I believe you’d much rather be in the United camp with two weeks of full recovery, especially after seeing how sore a couple of the Hawks players looked on Monday night.

On top of that, Melbourne United have defeated the Illawarra Hawks in each of their last four encounters, three of which were by double-figure margins. 

With all of that said, I foresee a relatively comfortable win for the home side here.

Melbourne United -6.5

$1.85 (2 Units)

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