The Best of the Day preview drives to the hoop with NBL tips for a Thursday night showdown between desperate rivals Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers.

NBL Tips – Illawarra Hawks V Adelaide 36ers

19:30 (AEDT) @ State Basketball Centre, Melbourne

History: Played 46: Hawks 23 V 36ers 23

Last meeting: January 6, 2020: 36ers 102 d Hawks 96 at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Final thoughts: The Best of the Day preview takes in more NBL Cup action as Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers strive to bounce back from a dismal previous round.

Both teams remain in the top half of the NBL ladder but have endured a rough patch of late.

The 6-5 Hawks have come back to the pack with five losses from seven games in February. They went down 97-91 to the Bullets last Friday, before crashing to a 93-76 loss to the Phoenix on Sunday.

Justinian Jessup (26 pts, 7 reb) was a shining light against Brisbane, while Justin Simon (13 pts, 7 reb) was strong off the bench in the season-worst showing against SEM.

The 6-7 Sixers have lost four of their last five. After an 82-73 defeat to heavyweights Melbourne United on Thursday, they were obliterated 106-62 by the embattled Breakers on Saturday. The 36ers conceded the first 14 points of the game and trailed 32-6 at the end of a catastrophic opening quarter.

When Adelaide loses, they tend to lose badly. Their average losing margin this season is 19.7 points. Aside from some glaring defensive issues, the 36ers also have the NBL’s least potent offence.

Adelaide have won seven of their last 10 against Illawarra. The 36ers chalked up six-point victories away and at home either side of the Hawks’ nine-point win in Adelaide last season.

It’s a huge game for both teetering teams, but the $1.54 favourite Hawks appear far better placed to carve out a much-needed Best of the Day W.

Tip: Handicap – Hawks -4.5 @ $1.95