The NBL is back from Thursday and we are set for seven exciting games in Round 1 of the 2018/19 season!
With several big signings made in the off-season, the quality of competition will only improve and every club will be hoping to get a jump on their rivals by winning in Round 1.
Despite finishing well off the pace last season, the Sydney Kings are the early $2.90 favourite to win in 2018/10 from defending champions Melbourne United ($3.30) and the Perth Wildcats ($6).
The NBL season is underway across the ditch on Thursday afternoon when the ever-dangerous Breakers play host to the Brisbane Bullets.
The Breakers found passage into another playoffs campaign in 2017/18 and went within five points of delivering the Phoenix Suns a huge upset in their pre-season friendly last week. They are a club that always plays with plenty of confidence and are arguably the league’s toughest road trip.
The Bullets have failed to make much of an impression in their first two season back in the NBL but enter this campaign fresh and with a few exciting signings on the roster. With experience they will continue to improve, but they really do look like facing a baptism of fire in New Zealand.
The point spread is set at only 1.5 here and that looks extremely achievable for the home side.
The 36ers will launch their new campaign at home and against the old enemy when they meet the Wildcats in Adelaide on Thursday evening.
They have continued to improve through recent seasons and focus for the 36ers this season is solely set on going one better than last year’s finals series loss to Melbourne United. They have carried a similar squad into the 2018/19 competition and will be confident of making an impact early.
The Wildcats have been the NBL’s most successful and consistent club through recent seasons and will take plenty of confidence into another fresh opportunity. They have typically been as good on the road as they have been in the nation’s west and they always bring their a-game when lining up opposite the 36ers.
There’s always value around both clubs in head-to-head betting and I am happy to take the Wildcats as outsiders.
The rejuvenated Hawks will launch their season at home on Friday night and will be quietly confident of recording an upset win over the reigning champions.
Illawarra were extremely disappointing through the 2017/18 season and failed to make the playoffs, despite having made the finals the season prior. They have bolstered their ranks ahead of the new campaign, however and will field names like Cedric Jackson, Brian Conklin and David Anderson from Week 1.
Melbourne United justified their early-season favouritism with a comfortable win in last season’s championship series and they are the team to beat again in 2018/19. They were comfortably beaten by the Philadelphia 76ers last week but clearly, that form doesn’t count for a lot and they will relish a step back in class into this fixture.
I give Illawarra more of a chance than betting suggests and I am confident that they can at least cover a line currently set at 4 points.
Sydney will launch their campaign at home on Saturday afternoon and all the focus will be on the NBL debut of arguably Australia’s best-ever export, Andrew Bogut.
The Kings were clearly the big disappointment of the 2017/18 season and nothing short of a finals appearance will do, this time around. Obviously with the signings that they have made, that is both achievable and expected and they can make a statement by delivering the 36ers defeat, who will also carry the benefit of Thursday’s hit-out with the Wildcats into this game.
Their first game is sure to give a far-better indication on their chances here, but the 36ers look like huge overs in nearly every market and they can certainly cover a 7-point spread.
Cairns are the final club to launch their 2018/19 campaign and they will travel to Brisbane on Saturday night to face the Bullets.
The Taipans were undoubtedly the ‘best of the rest’ last season and if some of their key players can remain fit all season, they are good enough to fight into the four.
I am anticipating the Bullets to be easily accounted for in New Zealand and even with improvement, I think the Taipans could also prove too good in Round 1.
This could turn out to be one of the better Round 1 contests but Melbourne United remain clear favourites to defeat the Breakers in head-to-head betting.
The performances mustered by these two clubs in their season-openers is sure to have some indication on where we should be looking, but Melbourne 1-10 looks like good early value at $2.55.
Sunday’s Wildcats vs Hawks game is a similar scenario to the Melbourne vs Breakers game and I’d prefer to watch both clubs go around once before diving into the form.
The Wildcats are too good at home most of the time and Perth 1-10 also looks like a nice early bet.