PREVIEW | 2023/24 NBL Championship Series – Game One

JUST two teams remain in the battle for the 2023/24 National Basketball League (NBL) championship, with Melbourne United set to take on the Tasmania JackJumpers in the final matchup of the postseason.

The Championship Series kicks off on Sunday afternoon, with the best of five series set to determine the season’s victor. With the minor champions set to take on the first time hopefuls, there will be no shortage of intrigue heading into the series.

Melbourne United (1st) vs. Tasmania JackJumpers (3rd)

Game One
Sunday, March 17 @4:00pm AEDT
John Cain Arena


Melbourne United were pushed by the Illawarra Hawks in the semi-final series to everyone’s surprise. The ladder-leaders were forced to overcome a double-digit deficit in game one at home, before falling at WIN Entertainment Centre to send the series to a decider. In that game three, Melbourne held off a late charge from the opposition to book a spot in the big dance as expected. United has not lost two games in a row all season, and will be hoping that trend continues against Tasmania. With a stacked roster and postseason experience under their belt already under the leadership of Dean Vickerman, they are well-placed for a productive Championship Series and will enter as favourites.

The JackJumpers hit some ripping form at the tail end of the home and away fixture, and carried that level of play into the postseason. After maneuvering the play-in, Tasmania advanced to take on the Perth Wildcats in the semi-final, winning 2-1. The JackJumpers delivered a tactical masterclass in game three, beating Perth on its own RAC Arena in emphatic fashion. With a number of players that can impact the game in a big way, Tasmania will prove tough to beat in its own right. Another thing it has in its favour is a 2-1 record against United this season, including a win at John Cain Arena, so the team will have plenty of confidence coming in.


The JackJumpers took the chocolates in the most recent clash between these two sides, which took place in Round 16 in January. Hosting United at MyState Bank Arena, Tasmania was simply too good, breaking the game open in the second and third quarters to deliver one of its best offensive performances of the season. In that match, Jordan Crawford erupted for 25 points, but has been quiet lately, so the JackJumpers will be hoping to get him back to this form.


There are a number of dangerous weapons on United’s team, but plenty of responsibility will rest on the shoulders of Shea Ili. The reigning NBL Best Defensive Player takes the opposition’s strongest guard each week, and will be tasked with clamping up Milton Doyle, who has been performing at an MVP level in the postseason to date. Ili has the capability to shut down just about anyone in the league, and Doyle plays a crucial role for the JackJumpers, turning the game for them in the last two outings. If United’s defensive weapon can win the battle here, it will be massive for Melbourne’s chances.

Forward Jack McVeigh may have flown under the radar over the past few seasons, but he has fully stamped his authority on the NBL so far in the playoffs. His ability to post 20+ points at a consistent basis throughout the postseason has been important for Tasmania, with McVeigh driving inside and finishing through contact frequently against Perth. Having quietly gone about his business in the past, McVeigh seems destined for a big series.


Melbourne United by 4.

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