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View from Down Under: Melbourne the hot favorite to beat Adelaide to the NBL title

Casey Prather Melbourne United NBL Basketball Grand Final Adelaide

The NBL season heads into the best-of-five grand final series with Melbourne United the deserved favorite to down the Adelaide 36ers. 

Melbourne finished the regular season as minor premiers and is unbeaten in all four games against Adelaide this season.

But the fact that United and the 36ers are deciding the title is no surprise, with both teams far and away ahead of their rivals since late 2017.

Adelaide goes into the series as the underdog, despite coming back to defeat defending champion Perth to book their spot in the grand final series.

And ominously, Melbourne star Casey Prather this week warned the “best is yet to come” for United ahead of Game 1.

Prather, who missed eight weeks during the regular season with a dislocated elbow, said the 36ers had every reason to “believe” anything is possible after they erased an 18-point deficit in Perth last week.

“But we’re a very confident team as well and feel like the best is yet to come for us.

“We got to keep riding this wave and hopefully it takes us to the championship.”

Adelaide coach Joey Wright says the 36ers were below their best in all four losses to Melbourne, which hosts the grand final series opener on Friday night.

“They haven’t seen us at our best,” Wright told reporters this week.

Melbourne to go in at full strength

Melbourne will field a full-strength side on Friday against a dynamic Adelaide lineup that includes Mitch Creek, Nathan Sobey and U.S. import Josh Childress.

Creek and Childress led Adelaide past Perth in the semifinal series, while Sobey sank some vital three-pointers.

Melbourne is Sportsbet’s $1.48 (-208) favorite to win the opener at home, with Adelaide on $2.67 (+167).

Looking ahead, United is paying $1.57 (-175) to claim the series, ahead of the 36ers at $2.42 (+142).

Cowboys look to tame Broncos in NRL

The NRL season enters its second week, with the North Queensland Cowboys looking to beat home-state rivals the Brisbane Broncos and have a chance of leading the table.

The Cowboys beat the Cronulla Sharks 20-14 in last week’s opener, while the Broncos lost 34-12 to St. George-Illawarra.

The Cowboys are on $1.55 (-182) to claim the win in Brisbane on Friday and leave the Broncos in last place on the ladder, with $2.50 (+150) for a loss.

In Super Rugby, the Melbourne Rebels are tipped to give up some ground atop the Australian conference standings when they travel to Sydney to face the NSW Waratahs on Sunday.

The Rebels are the only unbeaten Australian team, leading the second-place Queensland Reds by seven points and the Waratahs by nine heading into the fourth round.

NSW is the $1.75 (-133) favorite to win at home, with $2.10 (+110) for the Rebels.

In soccer, the Newcastle Jets will be desperate to claim three points against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday and keep alive their slim hopes of catching A-League leaders Sydney FC.

Sydney leads the second-place Jets by eight points with five rounds remaining and does not appear to be slowing down.

The Jets are paying $1.83 (-120) earn the win in New Zealand, with $3.50 (+250) for Wellington and $3.60 (+260) for a draw.

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