Illawarra Hawks vs Sydney Kings
Match Details: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 5:30PM, WIN ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE
This is being billed as an overwhelmingly one-sided contest. After all, the No.1 team of the season, Sydney Kings, is taking the 9th placed Illawarra Hawks. Moreover, the last time these two teams clashed this season, the Hawks were beaten 87:92 by Sydney at home. Will things be different when they host them again in Round 13? That looks unlikely.
Illawarra Hawks have simply not been able to arrest their slide in the 2019-20 season and have now lost 4 of their last 5 games. They suffered a crushing 89:91 loss against the Breakers at home in their last game of Round 12. They began Round 13 on a horrible note after suffering a 102:112 loss against South East Melbourne. It has now become literally impossible for the Hawks to rise up the ladder. They will need something truly extraordinary from the likes of LaMelo Ball and Aaron Brooks, their best players of the season, to stop the dominant Sydney.
The Sydney Kings have got up well after suffering a few shocks a few weeks earlier and have won 2 of their last 4 games. They registered a terrific 110:98 win at home against South East Melbourne in their second-last game, but gave up in their last game against Wildcats. Sydney would be happy that they are ending Round 13 with a relatively lighter match against a down-on-form Illawarra Hawks.
Interestingly, the Hawks have won 3 of its last 5 encounters against the Kings and this match may become close. However, considering their recent form, and the strength of the two teams, Sydney should be backed as the winners of the match.
Cairns Taipans vs S.E. Melbourne Phoenix
Match Details: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 8PM, Cairns Convention Center
This has all the makings of a close and exciting contest. Cairns Taipans have found great rhythm and form in the last couple of weeks and are currently 4th on the points table with 9 wins and 9 losses. They will be hosting South East Melbourne Phoenix who are now 5th in the standings with 8 wins and 9 losses.
The two teams had met once earlier in this season where South East Melbourne recorded a dominating 112:105 win in a high-scoring game. Things have changed now, however.
Cairns are coming off two back-to-back victories. In their last game, they defeated Melbourne United 77:75 on the road and have begun Round 13 on a commanding note. DJ Newbill and Cameron Oliver continue to impress and would pose a serious challenge to the opposition.
South East Melbourne, meanwhile, lost both their matches in Round 12. While their loss to Sydney was expected, they would be especially upset over their 84:90 defeat against the New Zealand Breakers on the road. Thankfully, they have begun Round 13 on a positive note with a 112:102 win over Illawarra Hawks at home. Mitchell Creek has been their superstar all season and perhaps a sensational performance from him in the game against Cairns is now needed for Melbourne to rise up the ladder.
The Taipans have won 6 of their 9 home games so far and thus, South East Melbourne are up against a daunting task. The home-court advantage will further favor the Taipans and they should be backed as the winners of this contest.