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NBL run home: Six doesn’t fit into four, so who misses?


High-flying Sydney face Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks twice in their final seven games and the super coach would love nothing more than to deny his ex team.Watch Every Game of the 21/22 NBL Season Live & On-Demand with ESPN on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats won’t just let the Kings surge to the top.Throw in a desperate South East Melbourne Phoenix side featuring MVP candidate Mitch Creek and the never-say-die expansion Tasmania JackJumpers, and the run home to lock in the final four for the finals will be must watch. We take a look at each team’s draw to finish the regular season, and who will be best placed for a shot at the championship.  1: MELBOURNE UNITED Run home: Hawks (H), Wildcats (A), Phoenix (A), Taipans (A), Bullets (H), Taipans (H) and JackJumpers (A)Predicted finish: 2ndThe first half of United’s run home is tough. The defending champions face fellow contenders Illawarra and Perth before another local derby against a desperate Phoenix. If United can get through that stretch with a minimum of two wins, then it should be enough to at least finish in the top two. Once in the finals, Dean Vickerman’s men will be extremely hard to beat based on their defence, depth, and experience. 2: SYDNEY KINGS Run home: JackJumpers (A), 36ers (A), Breakers (A), Hawks (A), 36ers (H), Taipans (A) and Hawks (H)Predicted finish: 1stThe Kings have a good run home, facing teams outside the four in five of their remaining seven games.Throw in Sydney’s strong form and the boys from the Harbour City are in a formidable position to finish the regular season in first position.The Kings also play two games against the in-form Illawarra Hawks, which will go a long way to defining their final position on the ladder.Could Sydney’s greatest coach Brian Goorjian come back to haunt his former side?  3: ILLAWARRA HAWKS Run home: United (A), Bullets (A), Kings (H), Wildcats (A), Kings (A)Predicted finish: 4th Goorjian’s Hawks are flying, but their finish to the regular season is far from easy. Illawarra play United, Perth and Sydney twice in their final five games. If the Hawks can steal a few wins, they will push United and the Kings in the final regular season standings.4: PERTH WILDCATSRun home: United (H), 36ers (H), Taipans (H), Hawks (H) and Phoenix (H)Predicted finish: 3rd The Wildcats were expected to return home to RAC Arena and just win, but it hasn’t eventuated that way. We’ll at least for now.I’m tipping Perth to rebound after losing consecutive home games last round, but it won’t be enough to jump Sydney or United on the standings.The Wildcats play two critical games against United and the Hawks, which will provide a valuable insight into their finals chances.   5: SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX Run home: Taipans (A), United (H), Breakers (A), JackJumpers (H), 36ers (H) and Wildcats (A)Predicted finish: 5thSouth East Melbourne deserve to make the finals, but sadly inconsistency and poor defence looks like it will cost them a post-season position.The Phoenix have a solid run home, including multiple winnable games, but it won’t be enough to knock Illawarra out of fourth position. It will leave South East Melbourne facing big question marks about the makeup of its roster moving forward.   6: TASMANIA JACKJUMPERSRun home: 36ers (A), Kings (H), Taipans (H), Breakers (A), Phoenix (A) and United (H) Predicted finish: 6thWhat a remarkable maiden NBL season from the Tasmania JackJumpers. Coach Scott Roth has done a tremendous job to have the JackJumpers competing for the finals.I expect Tasmania to finish the season with more wins, but it won’t be enough to qualify for the post-season.  THE REST7: BRISBANE BULLETS Run home: 36ers (H), Hawks (H), 36ers (A), United (A) and Taipans (A)Predicted finish: 7thBrisbane has been bitterly disappointing this season based on their level of talent. The likes of Nathan Sobey, Robert Franks, Lamar Patterson, and Jason Cadee are all quality players. Unfortunately, the Bullets haven’t been consistent enough to make push for the finals, so they’ll be just playing for pride.Re-signing Sobey is necessary first step for Brisbane this off-season.  8: ADELAIDE 36ERS Run home: Bullets (A), Kings (H), Bullets (H), Wildcats (A), Kings (A), Phoenix (A) and Breakers (A)Predicted finish: 8th Injuries have marred Adelaide’s season to date, but they’ve still lacked the class and consistency to climb the standings. The 36ers deserve praise for beating Perth, United and he Phoenix throughout the season, but their inconsistency has proved costly. Adelaide officials are keen to secure a big name in free agency, so watch this space. 9: CAIRNS TAIPANS Run home: Phoenix (H), Breakers (A), JackJumpers (A), United (H), Wildcats (A), United (A), Kings (H) and Bullets (H)Predicted finish: 9thIt’s been a forgettable season for Cairns, who are well behind the rest of the league when it comes to class and performance.Rookie forward Bul Kuol has been a shining light for the Taipans and a genuine Rookie of the Year option.Cairns has a tough run home, with clashes against United, Perth and Sydney. The Taipans need to make off-season moves to become a competitive force. 10: NEW ZEALAND BREAKERSRun home: Taipans (H), Wildcats (A), Phoenix (H), JackJumpers (H) and 36ers (H)Predicted finish: 10thCovid has been particularly damaging for New Zealand, who have been forced to play away from home for two seasons now. The Breakers, like any team would, have struggled without having home games and it’s reflective in their lowly standing on the ladder.Regardless, the New Zealanders need to be better to rise up the ladder.

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