Canterbury Rams (9-7) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (4-12) When: Thursday, June 8, 7pm Where: Cowles Stadium, Christchurch Referees: Melony Wealleans, Gavin Zimmerman, Elliot Duncan Notes: The Giants will try to avoid their second worst franchise finish of 5-13 which they did twice in the 1988 & 1989 seasons. Nelson will be playing their 700th franchise game, being the only team to have played every season since the NBL started in 1982. One of the four wins for the Giants was against the Rams 92-82. Dion Prewster scored a season high 30 in the win, hitting 5/7 from three. The Rams will hopefully have McKenzie Moore back in the line-up after missing their win last week to Taranaki. Canterbury had their biggest win of the season against the Giants, winning by 34 points back in Round Two. Marcel Jones continues to lead the Rams in scoring, currently second in the league at 23.4 per game. Jones has come off the bench for the last three games, and his numbers have dipped at 14.3 points. Jones did have his best game since coming off the bench last week with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Taranaki Mountainairs (4-13) v Taylor Hawks (3-13) When: Friday, June 9, 7pm Where: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth, 7pm Referees: Dallas Pickering, Jason McCabe, Rhys Hamilton Notes: The Airs have beaten the Hawks twice this season, but in the last meeting they nearly blew a 29 point lead after the Hawks scored 42 points in the fourth quarter. Taranaki struggled to contain Everard Bartlett who scored 20 points in the final period which included six straight three pointers. If the Hawks go 1-1 which includes beating the Airs then they will avoid the wooden spoon if they finish on par with the Giants because they will hold the tiebreak. But if they lose to the Airs and all three teams finish with the same record then the Hawks will finish bottom because Taranaki would have beaten them three times. Tylor Ongwae had 23 points in the win over the Hawks, but has been quiet in his last two games, averaging 10.5 points per game.
James Blond Supercity Rangers (10-7) v Canterbury Rams (9-7) When: Saturday, June 10, 3pm Where: Trusts Arena, Waitakere Referees: Melony Wealleans, Yalla Edwards, Sam Pan Notes: A win for either side will mean they finish third and play the Sharks in the semi-final. Canterbury are coming into the game with a three game winning streak and four wins in their last five. If the Rangers win then they will equal their best regular season winning record of 11-7 which they did in the 2015 season. The Rangers have won seven of the last ten meetings between the two, but it was the Rams who won in the last game played 88-86. Ethan Rusbatch had 19 points, and Marcel Jones added 17 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Mitch McCarron continues to be one of the most consistent players in the league, currently third in the league at 22.1 points per game. McCarron will match up against Jeremy Kendle who is fourth at 20.1.
Mike Pero Nelson Giants (4-12) v Wellington Saints (17-0) When: Saturday, June 10, 7pm Where: At Trafalgar Centre, Nelson Referees: Sean Cronin, Ryan Jones, Elliot Duncan Notes: The Wellington Saints have an opportunity to be the first NBL team to finish the regular season unbeaten, but it will be on the road to the Giants who will be desperate to avoid the wooden spoon. The last team to have the chance to do this was the Waikato Titans in 2001 that finished 15-1, losing their last game of the regular season to the Otago Nuggets who finished last. Nelson hosted the Saints on May 26th, the Saints winning 95-78. Nelson led the Saints by nine after the first quarter, but were outscored 56-26 in the middle periods. In what is usually been a fierce rivalry between the two teams, the Saints have won 10 of the last 11. Nelson were missing starter and captain, Sam Dempster, but he returned last week against the Rangers and will help the Giants in particular the rebounds where they were outrebounded 48-32 against the Saints, which included 21 rebounds from Leon Henry. One player Wellington has struggled to contain is Finn Delany who is averaging nearly 26 points per game against them.
SIT Zerofees Sharks (11-6) v Taylor Hawks (3-13) When: Sunday, June 11, 3pm Where: At ILT Stadium, Invercargill Referees: Matt Bathurst, Hayden Pipe, Jacob Cromb Notes: Sharks have been dominant at home with a 7-1 record. The Hawks have struggled on the road winning only one of six games. The Hawks blew a 19 point third quarter lead in their last meeting in Invercargill, the Sharks winning 86-81. After going 2-0 under Ben Hill the Hawks are currently on a seven game losing streak. The Hawks have not won in Invercargill since 2014, 101-88. Southland have won seven straight against the Hawks. It has been a tough three seasons for the Hawks who after finishing the 2014 regular season with a franchise best 15-3, have gone 9-43 since. Match up of the game will between centres Amir Williams and Alex Pledger. Williams leads the league in rebounding (10.1), and blocks (1.8). Pledger is second in blocks (1.6) and third in rebounds (9.4).