The Best of the Day preview takes it to the hole with NBL tips for the cellar-dwelling but in-form Breakers’ clash with semi-final contenders Illawarra Hawks. 

NBL Tips – New Zealand Breakers V Illawarra Hawks

19:30 (AEST) @ John Cain Arena, Melbourne

History: Played 44: Breakers 26 V Hawks 18

Last meeting: February 22, 2021: Hawks 102 d Breakers 88 at WIN Entertainment Centre

Final thoughts: The Best of the Day preview breaks down the NBL’s Monday night action as the playoffs draw near.

The 9-16 Breakers are well out of contention in second-last but have been making life difficult for the league’s title hopefuls of late.

They have won four of their last six – including a pair of upsets of Perth Wildcats. The Breakers edged the defending champs 86-84 on Saturday. Levi Randolph (19 pts, 4 ast) was the hero, hitting the match-winner with 0.1 seconds remaining.

The 12-14 Hawks sit fifth, a couple of wins adrift of the current playoff seeds.

The early-season bolters won only two of eight games in March, losing their last three to the Wildcats (83-69), United (87-76) and Kings 79-75 in OT). This is their first fixture in nine days.

After losing the teams’ last five encounters, the Hawks romped to a 102-88 win in their only clash with the Breakers so far this season.

Back-court duo Tyler Harvey (22 pts, 4 ast) and Justinian Jessup (20 pts, 3 stl) had impressive outings for the Hawks in the NBL Cup blowout. Tai Webster (20 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast) was inspirational in a beaten Breakers side, while Colton Iverson had 13 points and 17 boards.

The Breakers are $1.62 favourites, but I’m backing the well-rested Hawks to boost their finals chances with a vital W.

Tip: Result – Hawks @ $2.31