The Illawarra Hawks will host the Brisbane Bullets in their first NBL game of the new season.
After two poor seasons, the Hawks will hope to change their fortunes this time. They finished in 7th place last season, winning only 12 of their 28 games. The season before that, they finished in 5th place in the regular season. In 2017 the Hawks reached the Grand Final where they faced the Perth Wildcats. They were beaten soundly, as Perth claimed a 3-0 win to clinch the title. That quest for the title was unsuccessful for Illawarra, but they have won it before that.
Their only title came in the 2000-01 season when they beat the Townsville Crocodiles in the Final series. The franchise was called the Wollongong Hawks back then, but they reverted to the original name in 2015. Since then they were coached by Rob Beveridge, who took them to the Final in 2017. But he was relieved of his duties after last season which ended his stay at the franchise. Matt Finn will be the coach as the Hawks head into the new season.
Brian Conklin was crowned as the club MVP last season after he averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. However, he has left the club in the offseason. He signed a deal with Limoges CSP of the LNB Pro A. In his absence, the likes of Aaron Brooks and David Andersen will need to step up this season.
Brisbane is another side who have failed to assert their dominance in recent years. They have finished in eighth place in two out of the last three seasons. Last season the Bullets finished in fourth place as they won 14 out of the 28 games. The Adelaide 36ers won the same number of games, but a superior points difference saw the Bullets make it to the playoffs. They faced the Perth Wildcats in the semi-finals.
The Wildcats annihilated the Bullets in two games to reach the Grand Final. The first game ended in a 30-point defeat for Brisbane, which set the tone for the second game as well. Their return to the playoffs after two years ended prematurely. Brisbane were disbanded in 2008 as their owner was forced to sell the club. The Bullets made their comeback in 2016 and have been in the NBL since.
Their only league title came back in 2007. Brisbane beat the Melbourne Tigers 3-1 to clinch the title. They have failed to reach the final since. Lamar Patterson was the club MVP last season as he averaged 17.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. He made the All-NBL first team as well and will lead the Bullets this season.
Illawarra Hawks vs Brisbane Bullets Betting Tips
The Bullets will be the favorites to get the opening win against the Hawks. It will be a close game, and the points differential will be less than 10 points. But Brisbane’s quality will tell, and they should get the win.