New Zealand Breakers vs. Melbourne United. Friday, February 12, 5:35pm. North Shore Events Centre
The NBL couldn’t have scripted a better final week of the regular season. The Breakers have gone on a winning streak to find themselves in fourth spot with only two games remaining.
Sitting just behind them are the unlucky Adelaide 36ers which were looking pretty before NBL leading points scorer Jerome Randle suffered an injury two weeks ago. They have since suffered a losing streak and both teams will play two top-four sides this weekend.
The first of the all-important games is the Breakers vs. United this Friday in Auckland. The Breakers will play a home and away series against Melbourne this weekend and many are predicting they will need to win atleast one of their games to make the playoffs. Adelaide play the Hawks and Wildcats away from home and notching two wins against those teams looks unlikely.
The Breakers won’t be taking their foot off the pedal against United which sit comfortably at the top of the premiership ladder. They are guaranteed to host a semi-final series, but they will want momentum heading into the playoffs.
Bookmakers are favouring the home side, but they haven’t been taking on quality opposition of late and Melbourne could peg them back a level in front of a roaring North Shore crowd.
Breakers vs. United betting and game predictions
The New Zealand Breakers have been very well supported since winning last Sunday against the Cairns Taipans.
The Breakers were down throughout most of the first half before producing a solid defensive effort in the second half. They will need that momentum to continue when they face Melbourne United which have rattled off seven victories from their last eight games – losing only to Adelaide 90-81.
United haven’t played the Breakers this year, but the Breakers did win at home when they faced each other in November and they will be looking to regain the advantage the Breakers have had over their past five games.
Melbourne have won only once from their last five against the Breakers and Chris Goulding hasn’t been able to heat up. United were held to 69 points when they last met and for a team used to putting up big numbers, that’s worrying for United backers.
New Zealand Breakers – $1.61 at Sportsbet.com.au
Melbourne United – $2.20
The Breakers will look to rely on Cedric Jackson who leads the league in assists with 6.7 per game, and also Corey Webster, who after falling off the earth throughout the season, had rebounded well to be the league’s second highest scorer with 21.27 points per game.
The NBA reject is now playing with the chip on his shoulder that the Breakers needed. Both Webster and United’s Chris Goulding started the season on fire, but for Goulding, he hasn’t been able to find the magic from the three-point line.
Goulding started this season like a house on fire and many believed he was a shoe-in for the scoring title, but he now finds himself outside the top five scorers in the league. Goulding appears extremely relaxed on the court which could be in part to having Stephen Holt on his team, but we’re not seeing good enough play from the former NBA player.
If the Breakers can keep Goulding from heating up, then they should have the better team chemistry to take this game out. As a team, the Breakers can look multiple ways to find a good offensive production. If it’s not Webster it’s Jackson, or Abercrombie, or even Alex Pledger who has become a scoring threat inside the paint.
2015/2016 NBL premiership table and odds
No position inside the top five is guaranteed with only a handful of games to go. In the final week of the regular season, there are five teams with a chance of making the playoffs with New Zealand and Adelaide in a battle for the final playoff spot.
CrownBet.com.au has the Wildcats, Hawks and United as major premiership contenders, with the Breakers on the fourth line of betting. Adelaide currently sit at $15 after looking good to make the playoffs just a few weeks ago, but will need a minor miracle to make the playoffs after a string of losses.
Bookmakers have Perth as the current favourites at $2.88. Perth play Sydney on Wednesday night, but will be resting most of their starting five so a loss shouldn’t deter punters from backing the Wildcats.
Perth Wildcats – $2.88
Illawarra Hawks – $3.25
Melbourne United – $3.75
New Zealand Breakers – $8.00
Adelaide 36ers – $15
Backing the Breakers isn’t the worst bet in the world. They haven’t looked as good as they have in previous seasons, but $8 is a good enough price to consider. They should make the finals after this weekend and they are starting to find their groove late in the season.No tags for this post.