NBL1 preview: 3/4 February - live streams, stats and more

'The headband' is back, with Hemel Storm's deadline signing putting a new slant on the D1M title race.

Storm's acquisition of former MVP Taylor Johnson and BBL winner Darien Nelson-Henry will give the reigning champs real hope of defending their title as they head into the home stretch of their title defence.

Derby and Essex will have plenty to say about those claims though, setting the league up for what should be a thrilling finish.

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

Worthing Thunder (5-9) vs Hemel Storm (10-2)

Worthing Thunder are the unfortunate side that's first up to take on Hemel's new-look roster, hosting Storm on Saturday evening.

With both teams enjoying a spot in D1M for over a decade now, these two teams are familiar foes and have shared more than a few classic encounters over the years, including last season's playoff final in Manchester.

A pair of wins in their last five games have dragged Thunder towards the playoff places after a slow start, though that momentum could be temporarily derailed as Johnson and Co. head to the South Coast.

Adding the American plus Nelson-Henry to a roster that already includes D1M points leaders Hakeem Sylla (23.6PPG, 9.9RPG) plus D1M assists leader Sam Newman (11.1PPG, 7.7APG) and Storm have a level of talent at their disposal akin to the side that steamed through D1M a year ago.

Worthing continue to lean on the talents of Hafeez Abdul (21.5PPG, 7.2RPG), with the talented shooter dropping 37 points on London Elite last weekend.

With five teams, Derby, Essex, Reading, Hemel and Newcastle, currently sat on between two and four losses for the year, it means the title race will have more than its share of twists and turns in the coming weeks.

Storm still have to play Derby, Reading and Essex twice before the season is out. The defending champs will hope that they can stay the course over that stretch, and getting themselves off to the best possible start tomorrow will be a priority.


Elsewhere this weekend

Six other games make up the weekend's action, starting with Newcastle University (9-4) at home to Loughborough Riders (9-5).

Both these sides may find that a title challenge is beyond their grasp at this stage of the season, but both can certainly stake a claim to a top-four spot and a home playoff game to start the post-season.

Nottingham Hoods (7-8) have lost four of their last five as a playoff team in freefall. That streak included a loss to bottom side Barking Abbey, and another struggler, Thames Valley Cavaliers (3-11) will be hoping to pile onto the Hoods' misery this weekend.

After looking dead and buried at the foot of D1M, Barking Abbey (2-12) ended their 12-game losing streak with back-to-back wins. Continuing that momentum at home to Essex Rebels (11-2) will be a tough ask, but BA will have plenty of other opportunities in the coming weeks to continue their resurgence.

Derby Trailblazers' (11-2) statement win against title rivals Essex last time out was a huge result and the Midlanders will look to keep the good times rolling with a home game against struggling London Elite (2-12).

City of Birmingham Rockets (4-8) last won in D1M back in mid-November. The Rockets will two chances to end that seven game streak this weekend, hosting Bradford Dragons (6-8) on Saturday before a trip to Reading Rockets (8-3) in Sunday's only game.

This weekend's fixtures:

Saturday 3 February

2pm - Newcastle University vs Loughborough Riders - LIVE STATS

3pm - Nottingham Hoods vs Thames Valley Cavaliers - LIVE STATS

4pm - Baking Abbey vs Essex Rebels - LIVE STATS

7:30pm - Derby Trailblazers vs London Elite - LIVE STATS

7:30pm - Worthing Thunder vs Hemel Storm - LIVE STATS

7:30pm - City of Birmingham Rockets vs Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS

Sunday 4 February

4pm - Reading Rockets vs City of Birmingham Rockets - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM