Wed, Nov 2, 5:23pm by Jake Equid
The Sydney Kings are now the outright favourite for the NBL title ($3) after winning their fifth straight game, reversing its opening round loss to Brisbane.
Sydney’s 5-1 start is their best since 2002-03 when they opened the season with seven wins in a row under six-time NBL champion coach, Brian Goorjian.
The team has recruited extremely well, signing reigning MVP and Olympian in Kevin Lisch, two European-based Olympians in Brad Newley and Aleks Maric, a quality import in Greg Whittington, then most recently added a second NBA veteran in Steve Blake to join Josh Powell in the squad.
So good is the new squad that it is starting to raise eyebrows from rival clubs, regarding the club’s salary cap.
Bullets and Australian Olympic coach Andrej Lemanis’ response to Sydney adding Blake was typically blunt and straight to the point.
“First reaction? They must have lots of money, given the other talent they have on the roster,” he said.
“Obviously it’s a great luxury for the Kings to be able to bring two NBA guys, veteran NBA guys off the bench. Good on them for being able to have the financial resources to do that.”
Next up, they face the Cairns Taipans twice, both home and away this weekend, who bounced back last weekend with a win over Melbourne at home and then a quality road win in Wollongong against the Hawks.
They’ll have to raise their level yet again this week though if they are to continue their winning ways. They’re a $2.25 outsider when they host the white-hot Kings ($1.65) on Saturday. For Monday’s match, which is in Sydney, once again the Kings are favourites ($1.42) with Cairns a $2.89 underdog.
The fifth round tips off on Friday in Melbourne for United’s match with the Breakers. Melbourne’s last start loss to the previously winless Taipans in Cairns wasn’t pretty, finishing with only 76 points for the match.
New Zealand are coming off a big 119-93 win over Adelaide, where Kirk Penney lit up the 36ers with 7-of-8 threes after Tom Abercombie got the perimeter bombardment going early from consecutive Mika Vukona feeds.
Perth were on a winning streak of four games before the reigning champions lost 81-76 away against the Hawks on Friday. The bookies are sticking with the Wildcats though, they’re at $1.56 to post their fifth win of the season with the 36ers at $2.44.
New Zealand have a busy weekend ahead of them as they have to back up from Friday’s trip to Melbourne by hosting the Brisbane Bullets ($2.44), at Vector Arena on Sunday. They’re at $1.56 to beat a Bullets team that gave up 23 points to 12 in the second quarter against the Kings last week.
Following that match, Illawarra ($1.94) host Melbourne ($1.86) in the final match on Sunday. The home side will have to turn around the biggest home loss of the season so far after Cairns defeated them by 15 points in Wollongong on Sunday.
It was also the first time in Illawarra’s past 20 home games that it was down by more than 10 at the main break when Cairns led 52-41 at half-time, I’m backing Melbourne to be too good for them at the same venue this Sunday.
BEST BET: Melbourne to beat Illawarra: $1.86
Melbourne United ($1.48) v New Zealand Breakers ($2.67), Hisense Arena, 7.30pm, Friday November 4
Cairns Taipans ($2.25) v Sydney Kings ($1.65), Cairns Convention Centre, 7:30pm, Saturday November 5
Perth Wildcats ($1.56) v Adelaide 36ers ($2.44), Perth Arena, 9:30pm, Saturday November 5
New Zealand Breakers ($1.56) v Brisbane Bullets ($2.44), Vector Arena, 1pm, Sunday November 6
Illawarra Hawks ($1.94) v Melbourne United ($1.86), WIN Entertainment Centre, 3:00pm, Sunday November 6
Sydney Kings ($1.42) v Cairns Taipans ($2.89), Qudos Bank Arena, 7:30pm, Monday November 7
All times are Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time*
Odds were sourced by Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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