NBL1 preview: 29/30/31 March - live streams, stats and more

There's a bumper Easter weekend in store for D1M fans, with seven games across the next three days.

With Derby and Reading going head-to-head tomorrow afternoon, five games fill Saturday before Loughborough and Bradford bring down the curtain on March's schedule in Sunday's only tie.

Derby, Hemel and Essex all sit on 36 points at the top of the standings, thought the Blazers have a game in hand.

We take a look at all this weekend action below, with links to live stats and live streams at the bottom of the page.

Reading Rockets (14-8) vs Derby Trailblazers (18-4)

Derby enter the long weekend knowing they can take a huge leap towards the D1M regular-season title with a win against Reading on Friday afternoon.

It won't be easy, given Reading's 14-8 record and current spot in the top four, but the Trailblazers did come through as 99-81 winners when the teams played in mid-February.

Given the pair of late-season clashes between their nearest rivals Hemel and Essex, Derby have been able to enjoy the luxury of knowing the teams closest to them stood a strong chance of dropping points in the last few weeks.

Those two meet once again in Essex on Saturday, but given DTB hold the tiebreaker against both teams, their title fate is still very much in their own hands regardless of results elsewhere.

Corey Johnson (23pts, 5reb) and Raheem May-Thompson (22pts, 5reb) both stepped to the fore the last time these teams met, two of Derby's more unsung heroes this season, and a strong nod to just how deep the Midlanders are right now.

Adding in the usual production of American duo Sam Masten (20.3PPG, 6.5APG) and Malcolm Smith (191.PPG, 6.1RPG), that's a lot for any team to solve defensively.

Reading shot 39% from the floor in that February loss, and 25% from long range. Both were below the Rockets' season averages, suggesting if they can get back towards their usual game plan, on their own court and in front of their own supporters, they could have the potential to knock Derby's title charge off track.

Mitch Clarke (16.2PPG, 4.8APG) and Elijah Maynard (12.2PPG, 5.1RPG) will both be key, and a win would also strengthen Reading's own top-four prospects in the process.

“Every game is like a cup final right now," admitted Derby head coach Matt Shaw. "They are all important fixtures and we can’t afford to have any slip ups.

"Reading is one of the hardest places to play in the league. They have a great atmosphere and the options they have in the back court are probably wider than any other team in the league.

“We are playing with confidence and determination right now. I really like the mindset the guys are showing. It should be another great game.”


Elsewhere this weekend

Thames Valley Cavaliers (8-15) have their final game of the regular season away to Barking Abbey (3-19) to begin the weekend. Safe from the threat of relegation but with little chance of making the post-season, TVC can regroup and aim to come back stronger in 2024/25.

Loughborough Riders (11-10) are sill scrapping hard with Bradford for sixth and seventh spot. They have a home tie against London Elite (3-19) to begin their double-header weekend, with a showdown against the Dragons (11-11) in Sunday's only game.

Nottingham Hoods (9-13) looked to be slipping out of the playoffs in recent weeks but an uptick in form sees the Midlands outfit currently holding on to eighth place. They hosts Newcastle University (14-8) on Saturday, a team still fighting hard for a top four spot.

Round two of Essex Rebels (18-4) and Hemel Storm (18-4) is on the cards, with whichever team loses will know their title challenge is over. Even if Derby do go on to claim top spot outright, that'll still leave these two teams going at it for the #2 and #3 seeds, with their head-to-head tiebreaker also being important on that front.

That just leaves playoff-chasing City of Birmingham Rockets (8-14) to entertain Worthing Thunder (7-14) as the final game on Saturday. CoB can still make the playoffs but don't have much margin for error, expect them to be dialed in against Thunder in this one.

This weekend's fixtures:

Friday 29 March

2pm - Reading Rockets vs Derby Trailblazers - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM

Saturday 30 March

4pm - Barking Abbey vs Thames Valley Cavaliers - LIVE STATS

6pm - Loughborough Riders vs London Elite - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM

6:30pm - Nottingham Hoods vs Newcastle University - LIVE STATS

6:30pm - Essex Rebels vs Hemel Storm - LIVE STATS

7:30pm - City of Birmingham Rockets vs Worthing Thunder - LIVE STATS

Sunday 31 March

6pm - Loughborough Riders vs Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM


Main image credit - Luke Simcock