Playoff Finals 2024: NBL2 & 3, WNBL2 previews, live streams, live stats, interviews

The Playoff Finals begin this weekend with a Saturday schedule containing three highly-anticipated ties.

The NBL Division Three final between Essex Rebels II and Barnet Bulldogs starts the day before Sheffield Hatters II look to make it back-to-back-to-back titles against Cobham Cobras in the WNBL Division Two showpiece.

The day will end with a not to be missed third meeting of the season between Milton Keynes Breakers and Team Solent Kestrels for the NBL Division Two title, bringing a close to the first half of the weekend.

There's a preview below of all three finals, with live streams as well. Click the red game titles for Live Stats.

NBL3 Playoff Final: Essex Rebels II vs Barnet Bulldogs - 1pm

Essex Rebels II and Barnet Bulldogs will begin what should be an exciting weekend of action at the National Basketball Performance Centre (NBPC) as they play out the NBL Division Three final. 

Both teams bring a winning pedigree with them to the NBPC, with Essex sporting a perfect 18-0 as East conference winners, whilst Barnet went 19-1 across a strong South conference schedule to beat second-place Oxford Hoops by six points. 

The Rebels points difference of 540 (+30ppg) and the Bulldogs’ 592 (+29.6PPG) both indicate how strong these teams have been this year; form they both carried into the post-season. 

The East champs saw off North runners up and #16 seeds Tees Valley Mohawks, 101-89, before a 69-57 victory over #9 Nottingham Trent Hoods. 

Those victories set up a clash with #5 Loughborough Riders II and thanks to a stunning 42 points from Jordan Ashley, the Rebels won the competitive contest, 77-71. 

Ashley’s quality has shone through all season long, making him a logical pick for the East’s Player of the Year award (POTY), with Essex coach Ryan Maiden also earning recognition for the part he played in a perfect regular season.

Barnet have been every bit as solid, however, making good on their #2 seed to march all the way to Manchester. 

They were pushed hard early on in the the playoffs, edging past Plymouth Marjon Patriots 109-102. 

Then the Londoners managed to pick themselves up, stringing together solid outings to beat #7 East London Phoenix 96-80 and then #3 Liverpool 97-78 to stamp their ticket to the final. 

Player/Coach Chuck Duru was selected as the South conference Coach of the Year, with Conor O'Reilly earning POTY honours for the Bulldogs. 

As the top two teams in D3 this year, this contest should provide a fitting end to this season’s campaign. 

The Bulldogs have scored 90 points or more in 16 games this season, showing they’re a team who know how to get it done and have the quality to hurt Essex if they can get into their rhythm. 

Essex are no slouches though, passing that 90-point mark 12 times themselves, and with Ashley at their disposal, he could be pivotal for them this weekend. 

Essex Rebels II's head coach Ryan Maiden:

"We've had a great undefeated season so far, but we're one step away from achieving our ultimate goal.

"Our semi-final vs Loughborough was a real test, Jordan Ashley’s individual performance was the stand out but it took everyone's efforts to get us the win.

"The final will be a huge test, Barnet Bulldogs have only been beaten once this year and it will take another monumental effort from us to win this playoff title!

"You can expect a great battle between the two best teams in D3 this year."

Barnet Bulldogs' Conor O'Reilly:

"We are excited to be in the Final and have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure weachieve our target which is to enter D2 next season as D3 playoff champions.

"We expect a tough game but we are confident we can come away with the win."

WNBL2 Playoff Final: Sheffield Hatters II vs Cobham Cobras - 3:30pm

Pool I winners Sheffield Hatters II will be looking to make it back-to-back-to-back WNBL Division Two playoff titles this weekend as they go up against Cobham Cobras. 

The Hatters are the most successful franchise in the game, and with their first team plying their trade in the WBBL, the seconds have continued to dominate in WNBL D2. 

To find the most recent Hatters II loss at this level you need to go all the way back to early 2022, and even then, the South Yorkshire side went 13-3 to seal their first Playoff crown.  

Last season, they reeled off a perfect 12-0 record and another post-season success. Now in 2023/24, they’re on an 18-0 record and another two playoff wins. 

That makes a streak of 47 straight wins across regular and post season, presenting quite the task for Pool II champs Cobham. 

The Cobras have progressed excellently this term, improving from 6-3 a year ago to an impressive 20-2 this year. 

To take top spot, they were pushed all the way by London All Stars before prevailing by just a single win, form they have carried over into the playoffs to take three from three.  

Sheffield Hatters II were D2W champions in Manchester a year ago

Just like the regular season though, the Cobras have had to battle.  

An opening round 73-72 scare against Pool I #4 seeds Bromsgrove Bears was followed up by last weekend’s 59-55 victory against Pool I runners up Worcester Wolves, showing this is a team that can dig in when needed. 

The Hatters enjoyed a more straightforward path, seeing off Thames Valley Cavaliers II 107-42, before topping London All Stars 69-44 to make it to Manchester once again. 

Both teams featured in the D2W end of season awards, with Sheffield’s Helen Naylor taking Pool I’s POTY award, whilst CJ Lee and Courtney Bennett shared the Coach of the Year award.

It was a similar one-two in the other Pool, with Kate Lee (POTY) and Luke Dowding (COTY) both earning worthy awards for their part in a title-winning season.

Stopping a Sheffield three-peat will be a big ask, but Cobham will still fancy their chances this weekend. 

Sheffield Hatters' head coach Garnet Gayle:

"We expect the Final to be an exciting but tough game against a strong Cobham Cobras.

"Four stalwarts of the Hatters will be calling it quits after this final game - Steph (Gandy), Lisa (Riches), Sarah (Cooney) and Helen (Naylor).

"Thanks to the late, great Betty Codona, these ladies have achieved so much from WBBL honors to reaching three consecutive WNBL Two Division Play-off finals. Our whole team are looking to going out there to end our season with a win."

Cobham Cobras' head coach Luke Dowding:

"This squad worked really hard all year and have made this all possible.

"We are beyond proud as a club to reach this stage only two years since the creation of the women's programme and thrilled to play such an experienced squad like Sheffield Hatters II.

"This promises to be a great game."

NBL2 Playoff Final: Milton Keynes Breakers vs Team Solent Kestrels - 6pm 

It’s an all-NBL Division Two South affair to bring down the curtain on Saturday’s action from the NBPC, as Milton Keynes Breakers and Team Solent Kestrels go head-to-head. 

The duo have already played out a pair of thrilling contests against each other during the regular season, with the title being won with literally the last basket of the year. 

That last-gasp bucket belonged to MK captain Jordan Spencer, who sunk a pull-up jumper to push the Breakers’ lead over the Kestrels to eight points at 104-96, avenging Solent’s 87-80 win in Milton Keynes way back in October 2023. 

Sealing the win and the head-to-head tiebreaker by a single point was enough to push the NBL National Cup champions to top spot despite both clubs finishing with identical 21-1 records, further highlighting how well matched these sides are this year. 

That means the scene is now set for what should be a high-quality third and final installment of their exciting rivalry. 

Both teams have been largely untroubled throughout the playoffs, with Solent beating North #3 seeds Manchester Magic 95-65 before knocking out North conference winners Bristol Hurricanes 110-51. 

Milton Keynes beat #4 Teesside Lions 108-69, before moving on to a 110-66 win over last season’s playoff finalists St Helens Saints. 

The Breakers current surge has been powered by Spencer, who has reeled off back-to-back triple-doubles since the playoffs began.  

The Lions copped for a 22-point, 23-rebound, 14-assist effort, with the Saints enduring a 28-point, 15-assist, 14-rebound outing last weekend. 

Solent can counter with Isa Brandon, who ranked second in efficiency, third in scoring, eighth in rebounding and fifth in steals across D2. Playing all but one game of the Kestrels’ season, he is another do-it-all talent that fans are sure to enjoy. 

Understandably, both these teams dominated the South’s end of season award selections.

Jordan Spencer was POTY, with teammate Buai Luak claiming Young Player of the Year. Solent’s Brandon was the Defensive Player of the Year, with Matt Guymon taking the coaching award.

Spencer and Brandon both made the conference’s All-First Team with Russell Gariepy (Solent) and Chris Tawiah (MK) also joining them.

If that wasn’t enough, Spencer and Tawiah both made the British Team of the Year, being joined by Solent duo Elliot Dadds and Ashley Briggs.

These two sides are crammed full of talent across their rosters and have already played out two stunning contests so far this season.  

Which side will take the third and final instalment remains to be seen, but it is bound to a highly enjoyable watch. 

Milton Keynes Breakers’ head coach Billy Beddow-Patel:

“We're excited to be back in Manchester for another final.  

“We're expecting another difficult game against Solent, and both teams should know each other well after our league-deciding game back in March.  

We'll do everything we can to get the win and complete the treble, and we're looking forward to playing in front of our amazing travelling fans.” 

Team Solent Kestrels’ head coach Matt Guymon:

“This is such a fantastic achievement for our club to reach the playoff final after a number of changes within the last year. 

“We have a great group of guys, which is a mixture of seniors and academy players, almost all of them have come through the junior programme or are from the local area.  

“We have had two fantastic games against Milton Keynes and I am sure this promises to be another tough battle that I know our guys are looking forward to.”