The NBL preview breaks down the opening game of the best-of-five grand final series between the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats.
17:00 (AEDT), Sun 8th Mar @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
History: Played 38: Wildcats 30 V Kings 8
Last meeting: February 1, 2020: Wildcats 110 V Kings 100 at Perth Arena
Final Thoughts: The 2020 NBL Grand Final series unquestionably the best two teams this season against one another. But it was a rocky semi-final ride for the table-topping Sydney Kings and defending champion Perth Wildcats.
The Kings took a horrific 125-80 beating in game two of their series against Melbourne United, at one stage being on the wrong end of a 38-0 (!) run. But tight home wins – 86-80 in the opener and 89-87 in the decider – were enough to carry the Kings into the best-of-five big dance.
After enduring a torrent of criticism, Andrew Bogut was considerably more influential in the game three win. Jae’Sean Tate (20 pts, 6 reb) – their standout across the semi-final series – was the difference.
The Wildcats’ rubber against Cairns Taipans was also something of a rollercoaster. They edged the Wildcats 108-107 in overtime in game one, before going down 85-74 in Cairns. But Terrico White (26 pts) helped lead Perth to a 93-82 win in the home decider.
Bryce Cotton and Nick Kay were typically impressive throughout the series.
Wildcats hold rivalry and grand final experience edge
The Wildcats have won five of their last six against the Kings. The Kings won the first battle of the heavyweights this season, a 104-85 blowout in Sydney. But the Wildcats won the subsequent three encounters: 96-77 and 110-100 in Perth, either side of a 98-85 victory in Sydney.
The Kings are appearing in their first NBL grand final since 2008, chasing the franchise’s first title since their 2003-05 three-peat. The Wildcats, meanwhile, featured in seven grand final series in the past decade and have won three of the last four NBL titles.
Sydney are 14-2 at home this season. The feeling is game one is a must-win for them – heading to Perth a game down will be a huge ask, particularly given their shaky semis form. Perth are 8-7 on the road, losing four of their last five.
The home-court factor propels the Kings into $1.73 favouritism. Form- and history-wise, the Wildcats are the value pick, however. Consider the over, too, with all four of their meetings this season producing 173-plus points.