PREVIEW | NBL Semi-Final Game Threes

THERE has not been much more excitement surrounding one night of National Basketball League (NBL) action in the 2023/24 season, with two semi-final deciders set to take place in consecutive fashion on Wednesday.

Both penultimate series were tied in the second game, delivering an exciting night which will see both grand finalists determined. With unpredictable results having already taken place in the two matchups, tonight has the maximum amount of intrigue.

Semi-Final 1

Melbourne United vs. Illawarra Hawks
7:30pm AEDT
John Cain Arena

The battle between the championship favourites and the fairytale story of the season resumes tonight, after the Hawks forced game three with a victory at WIN Entertainment Centre. While United have the talent and experience to advance, Illawarra simply will not go away, and could keep its remarkable run rolling.


Melbourne came into the postseason as the championship favourites and are still in that position, although are now at risk of dropping out before the decider. Coming up against a side that is on a serious wave of momentum, Melbourne’s 18-day break is proving costly at times, disappearing for patches of games and allowing matches to slip away. Although they won the first game in overtime, United fell in an extra period on Sunday, and will need to improve on both ends. However, if any team has the tools to deliver a turnaround in a short amount of time, it is this club.

The Hawks have been able to find a way whenever their season is on the line, conjuring a late charge to steal game two at WIN Entertainment Centre. Having forced a game three, Illawarra knows it can outperform Melbourne at John Cain Arena, having done it for a large part of game one, but will be eager to avoid the fadeouts that cost it that match.


Melbourne will be looking to get the ball in the hands of captain Chris Goulding as much as possible, given his elite shotmaking ability. It has been a reasonably quiet playoff run from the sharpshooter by his lofty standards, and with his team’s season on the line, will need to find the bottom of the net, especially in the first half.

Illawarra’s best patch of play in game two came in overtime, and one of the bigger changes was when the ball found its way into Sam Froling‘s hands early in each position. Operating as the anchor and setting up his teammates on the move before rolling to the hoop to get in a scoring position. Melbourne appears eager to shut him down, but if the back-to-back Next Generation winner can get involved, it really helps Illawarra’s halfcourt sets.


Melbourne United by 12 points.

Semi-final 2

Perth Wildcats vs. Tasmania JackJumpers
9:30pm AEDT
RAC Arena

The Wildcats and JackJumpers have exchanged home wins so far in the series, and while Perth will be hoping that trend continues tonight, Tassie will be looking to buck it. With plenty of spice in the series already, there are sure to be fireworks in the deciding clash tonight.


The Wildcats did enough to get the job done in game one, rallying behind their home crowd when Tasmania made a late charge. However, Perth fell victim to the same circumstances when playing off for a spot in the Grand Final at MyState Bank Arena on Monday night, sending the series back to Western Australia. Heading into game three, the Wildcats will be looking for more production from their role players with plenty of defensive attention going into the stars.

With their season on the line, the JackJumpers overcame a solid start from the Wildcats to get the win in game two and force a deciding clash. The crowd at MyState Bank Arena was a significant factor in the result, but Tasmania will not have that luxury, and will need to get the job done on enemy territory. Scott Roth‘s adjustments throughout the game were important, but the JackJumpers will still need to bring their absolute best to advance.


For the Wildcats, it is easy to say Bryce Cotton, but the MVP is always going to be a big factor in the match one way or another. One massive boost the Wildcats could get would be another big performance from center Keanu Pinder. The star big man was a huge factor in game one, firing from behind the arc with a career-high five three-pointers. His ability to stretch the floor changed the way Tasmania was forced to defend, but after fouling out in just 13 minutes in game two, he was unable to have an impact, so keep an eye out for his production tonight.

The JackJumpers conjured an impressive win on Monday night, but did it all despite an off night from star point guard Jordan Crawford. The damaging scorer could only manage two points on 1/9 shooting from the field, and was benched in the final quarter. Tasmania will need plenty of offence to topple a Wildcats outfit that can post big scores, and after excelling in game two, Milton Doyle and Jack McVeigh are set to receive much more defensive attention, leaving the door open for Crawford to turn things around.


Perth Wildcats by 3 points.

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