NBL24 will be full of marquee unmissable fixtures. (Images: @MelbUnited; @Liam_Santa; @Adelaide36ers)

The NBL24 fixture has dropped, and off the back of a record-breaking campaign, the 2023/24 season will tip off in late September – the earliest start since 2009.

With each team playing 28 matches once again, The Inner Sanctum has broken down the fixture for each team ahead of the upcoming 2023/24 season.

Adelaide 36ers

Fans will be excited for…

With the loyal Adelaide 36ers fans selling out the last five home games at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, the first home game against Melbourne United is firming to be a massive matchup. Unveiling returning Australian Boomer Jason Cadee, the 36ers will be out to prove that they can go up a level in NBL24.

Young talents Luke Travers and Kyle Bowen join the growing stocks at United, who are looking like a team that has recruited heavily for their tilt at the championship. The 36ers showed they had the squad last season but without Anthony Drmic, it will be a game that could separate the contender from the pretender.

Fans will be nervous for…

Adelaide 36ers will not have to wait long for the litmus test when they face the champions on October 8. Playing Sydney at Qudos Bank Arena is never easy, least of all after back-to-back championships.

36ers supporters will be looking for their team to get their season off to a flyer and with three away games to start the season (against Brisbane, Perth and Sydney), they will need to take some tough scalps early before three consecutive home games.

The game you can’t miss:

With two marquee fixtures this season, the 36ers fans will be spoiled on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. On December 24th, Adelaide will play host to Cadee’s former team, the Brisbane Bullets at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve, 36ers supporters will get to ring in 2024 with a bang if they get the win over the Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Madeline Irwin

Brisbane Bullets

Fans will be excited for…

Brisbane fans will be chomping at the bit to see what the team looks like under new coach Justin Schueller early next season.

After an off-season that promised so much last year, barely anything went right for the Bullets on or off the court in NBL23. The club missed the playoffs once again, had three different head coaches throughout the season and experienced front-office turnover.

It’s why supporters will be excited to begin a new chapter under Schueller, who is the latest coach to come out of Dean Vickerman’s system at United.

The squad will look very different after a busy free agency period, with championship experience added through the signings of Mitch Norton and Sam McDaniel. The Bullets also landed the coup of getting young centre Josh Bannan straight out of college, while Isaac White arrives after an impressive season for the JackJumpers. Fans will be anxious to see how quickly these new recruits gel with the likes of Aron Baynes and Nathan Sobey.

The Bullets have a tough start to NBL24 with three of their first four games coming against the top four teams from last season, but it will be a good indication of how the team will look under Schueller.

Fans will be nervous for…

While Brisbane’s matchups against Cairns are always circled on the calendar, it’s been with trepidation for fans in the state’s capital in recent times. The Bullets have an eight-game losing streak against the Taipans after being swept by their rivals over the last two seasons.

Coach Adam Forde has had their number ever since he arrived in Far North Queensland and is yet to experience defeat in the Sunshine Stoush. It’s why the occasion is such an important one for Schueller’s new program.

Brisbane gets its first crack when it hosts Cairns at Nissan Area on October 7 in Round 2. The rivalry has also been given the marquee slot of New Year’s Day up at the “Snake Pit”.

The game you can’t miss:

Brisbane has received another prime fixture from the league in the form of its Christmas Eve clash against Adelaide. The Bullets will head up to the Adelaide Convention Centre in Round 12 to take on the 36ers in what should be a competitive match.

Both teams underperformed against expectations last season, with the game potentially being key to their playoff hopes as they hit the final stretch of NBL24. There’s also history between the two sides after star guard Nathan Sobey famously left the 36ers to join the Bullets, potentially adding another element to the match.

Many fans will be watching the marquee game over the holidays, making it a great chance for Brisbane to show the NBL world what it is made of under the new regime.

Hamish Spence

Cairns Taipans

Fans will be excited for…

The Sunshine Stoush is always exciting for Queensland basketball fans, but recently it’s been a far more enjoyable watch for Cairns supporters. The Taipans swept the Bullets last season to make it an eight-game winning streak over their state rivals.

It means Brisbane will have even more motivation to defend its home court when it hosts Cairns on October 7 in Round 2. The Bullets are entering a new era under coach Justin Schueller and he will be aiming to make a big statement by giving the club its first win over the Taipans since May 2021. But Cairns will be looking to use the game to back up its incredible rise last season and show that Queensland’s home of basketball is still in the far north.

Whatever the result, there’s sure to be heated encounters between the fierce rivals this season.

Fans will be nervous for…

Tensions will be high when Cairns hosts the back-to-back reigning champs, Sydney, at the Cairns Convention Centre on October 28. The two sides will meet for the first time since last season’s tough semi-final series, which the Taipans did well to extend to three games despite injuries to their star Keanu Pinder and import Shannon Scott.

Beyond wanting to get revenge on the team who ended its remarkable season, the game will be a good test of Cairns’ championship credentials. The Kings will likely still be the competition’s measuring stick and a win against them would be an indication of what the Taipans can achieve in NBL24.

There are also personal elements to the rivalry between the two sides, like Cairns coach Adam Forde who joined the club after a one-year stint as the head honcho in Sydney. Kouat Noi also left the Taipans to join the Kings last off-season and made his former team pay by hitting a game-winning shot against them in Round 5.

The game you can’t miss:

Cairns will welcome Keanu Pinder back to the “Snake Pit” for a marquee Boxing Day clash against Perth. The talented centre signed with the Wildcats this off-season after a remarkable two-year stint with the Taipans.

During his time in Far North Queensland Pinder won back-to-back NBL Most Improved Player awards and was in MVP conversations last season before he was hit with injuries. While the departure was amicable between player and club, the Taipans faithful might want to remind Pinder of his decision to leave when he returns to Cairns.

Hamish Spence

Illawarra Hawks

Fans will be excited for…

Hawks fans will be wanting to end their holiday festivities with a win, as their crosstown rivalry with the Kings continues on Christmas Day. Illawarra will be looking for redemption against the reigning champions after multiple losses against Sydney in NBL23.

Forming one part of the double-header set for December 25, this will be the first time that the Hawks will get a chance to take to the court on Christmas. Expected to be one of the highlights of the new season, Hawks fans can expect a lot of intensity in this game.

Fans will be nervous for…

Illawarra’s first game against the South East Melbourne Phoenix in Round Two will be one to look out for. The Hawks’ biggest losing margin last season came at the hand of the Phoenix in their Round 10 clash, where they were defeated by 39 points.

With a new season on the horizon, Illawarra will be wanting to take out the win at home and start NBL24 on the right foot. After incurring a losing streak of 11 games last season, the side will be aiming to avoid a similar record this season.

The game you can’t miss:

As the competition hits the midway point, Illawarra’s clash against the Perth Wildcats in Round 10 will be one to keep an eye on.

Despite the Hawks not being able to claim victory against the Wildcats in any of the three appearances during NBL23, depending on their performances in the games prior to this encounter, it could be an indicator of what the second half of the year will look like for the Hawks.

Ashleigh Matosevic

Melbourne United

Fans will be excited for…

Fans are always up and about for a season opener. But when that opener is Throwdown XXII, you know Melbourne United will be in for a treat. Taking on the South Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena on Thursday, September 28, Melbourne United will look to start NBL24 with a bang.

Fans will be nervous for…

Melbourne United have lost their last three matches against the Sydney Kings by an average margin of 19.7 points, making their encounter at Qudos Bank Arena on January 4 a scary proposition for the Victorian-based side. Coming off back-to-back championships, the Kings will look to create a hostile environment for the visitors.

The game you can’t miss:

Melbourne’s first trip to ‘The Jungle’ for NBL24 is set to be a blockbuster. After the Perth Wildcats merely knocked United out of the Play-in, Dean Vickerman’s men will be seeking revenge.

It will also mark the first time key-signing Luke Travers faces off against his old side, in what is set to provide plenty of fireworks. The occasion has been awarded a Friday night timeslot, taking place in Round Three on October 13.

Jackson Mansell

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New Zealand Breakers

Fans will be excited for…

The Grand Final Rematch series against the Sydney Kings, where they will look to get some revenge. The fans will look to pack Spark Arena on December 22 as the Breakers look to build their title credentials once again against the back-to-back Champions.

The occasion to face off as the Grand Final opponents from the season before does not come around often and Mody Maor’s men will hope to rise to the occasion.

Fans will be nervous for…

The opening day blockbuster against the Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena promises to be an entertaining affair. The Breakers beat the Taipans away from home twice last season but lost in their home matchup and will look to amend that in Round One.

With new faces, a new season, and expectations at an all-time high to showcase their title credentials, the matchup promises to be nothing short of explosive.

The game you can’t miss:

The Breakers play in Tasmania on New Year’s Day, as they face the Tasmania JackJumpers at MyState Bank Arena. The Breakers knocked the JackJumpers in the three-match semi-final series last season, as they claimed both victories at home with a loss away in between.

They beat the NBL22 Grand Finalists to reach the NBL23 Grand Final series and they will surely be tested away again on the first day of the new year, with a bit of revenge on the JackJumpers’ minds.

Dylan Costa

Perth Wildcats

Fans will be excited for…

After a disappointing season, the Wildcats had an impressive off-season, recruiting Keanu Pinder from the Cairns Taipans to head west, and bringing in local talent that they are keen on building around for the future.

Fans will be most excited to see Keanu Pinder and Bryce Cotton team up for the first time at home on September 29 at RAC Arena against the Tasmania JackJumpers, which is one of their eight games on Friday night this upcoming season.

Perth will play on Boxing Day against Cairns Taipans on the road, which will be their second last game before the new year.

Fans will be nervous for…

With Perth set on the big prize of a championship, the road to it won’t be easy. The Wildcats will face the new-look Melbourne United on Friday, October 13 at home, facing former Wildcats forward Luke Travers before travelling to Sydney for their clash on October 15th for a classic Sunday afternoon showdown with the Kings. The two-day turnaround is one of four occurrences for the Wildcats this season.

To finish 2023 in fashion, the Wildcats are on the road through the Christmas holidays. In this three-game stretch, they will face Melbourne United, Cairns Taipans, and the Adelaide 36ers.

The road stretch continues into the new year when they will travel out of the country to play the New Zealand Breakers on January 7.

Finishing the season, Perth will be facing three of the top four finalists of last year, taking on New Zealand and Cairns at home before its last two games on the road against Illawarra and Tasmania.

The game you can’t miss:

The Boxing Day clash with the Cairns Taipans will be a must-watch. By this time, we’ll get a sense of where these two teams are compared to the rest of the league.

This will also be the game where Keanu Pinder goes back to Cairns for the first time, where he played for the Taipans. Players facing their former teams in their arena is always a game circled on the calendar and see the fans show their true colours when they see him in all red.

Kye Ferreira

South East Melbourne Phoenix

Fans will be excited for…

South East Melbourne Phoenix fans will have to be excited for their opening home game of the season when the Phoenix match up against the Perth Wildcats.

The rivalry between the two teams is one that continues to grow having played in several big games, including last season’s Play-in qualifier which saw the Wildcats prevail and thereby ended the Phoenix’s season. The encounter will have some extra spice added as it will be the first time new head coach Mike Kelly goes up against his old side.

South East Melbourne will have the opportunity to give its fans a late Christmas gift as it gets the opportunity to face Tasmania in the Apple Ise on Christmas Day.

The Phoenix’s Round 19 game against the JackJumpers at the Fire Pit will be one game that fans won’t want to miss as the club celebrates its 150th game in the competition.

Fans will be nervous for…

With the Phoenix’s eyes set on redemption and looking to make their way back into the postseason, their last four rounds could prove difficult as five of their last seven games are against teams that made the postseason.

Before South East Melbourne reaches that stretch of the season, it will have a five-game stretch on the road where it will face the likes of Brisbane, Cairns, Illawarra, Perth, and Tasmania.

In NBL23, the Phoenix struggled to win on the road, finishing with a losing record of four wins and 10 losses, this will be an area Mike Kelly will want his team to rectify to give themselves the best chance of qualifying as high as possible.

The game you can’t miss:

Who would want to miss the first Throwdown of NBL24, especially since Throwdown XXI will be opening the season.

Despite the encounter being an ‘away’ game for the Phoenix, Thursday 28 September will be the first chance fans will be able to set their eyes on new recruits Matt Kenyon and Gorjok Gak as well as returning faces such as fan favourite Alan Williams.

Throwdown XXI sets to be a mouth-watering clash with Melbourne United recruiting young talents Luke Travers and Kyle Bowen while also bringing back Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.

Jordan Janssen

Sydney Kings

Fans will be excited for…

Sydney Kings fans will be excited to see their club compete for a third championship in a row with Chase Buford continuing to coach and have a similar squad to last season. With a very appealing schedule, the Kings should be excited for packed-out home games and short stretches on the road.

The Sydney Kings are expanding popularity and appeal to the sport of basketball and will be looking to continue their success and putting together a talented team.

The championship banner and ring ceremony will take place on October 8 against the Adelaide 36ers on a Sunday afternoon in front of home fans for their first home game of the NBL24 season, returning to the floor where they won their second consecutive championship.

The Christmas Day clash with the Illawarra Hawks will also be another game that the fans will be excited about. The inaugural Christmas Day game the Kings hosted saw historic success, with more than 7,000 fans in attendance and 300,000 watching from home seeing the Kings defeat rivals Melbourne United. 

The history of the Hawks-Kings rivalry continuing on Christmas Day should have fans ready to see these two teams compete in a tight contest.

Fans will be nervous for…

The stretch between October 22 and November 5 is a tough stretch of basketball for the Kings, having to play against the other top four teams from last season, which won’t be an easy feat.

With their playoff success against the Cairns Taipans and New Zealand Breakers coming in thrilling nail-biting contests. With the tension and rivalries building, these are only going to get bigger and better as these teams will be chasing for a championship again.

Their second meeting of the season against the Illawarra Hawks and Tasmania JackJumpers might be a struggle whilst going against their playoff matchups from NBL23, as the Sydney Kings last season had a slump in the regular season and could continue a similar pattern, especially with this stretch of the draw.

The game you can’t miss…

The Grand Final series rematch against the New Zealand Breakers on November 5 is going to be very highly anticipated by the fans. These two teams went the full five games for the championship and the Breakers would love nothing more and make a statement in their first meeting of the new season.

With the Breakers also returning with a similar roster, the crowd and atmosphere is going to be electric and loud in the lead-up to the game and for the full 40 minutes.

Kye Ferreira

Tasmania JackJumpers

Fans will be excited for…

The JackJumpers will look to make it three years of consecutive NBL finals appearances NBL24 when they open the season against the Perth Wildcats on Friday, September 29.

JackJumper fans will be blessed with two massive home fixtures when the South East Melbourne Phoenix travels south for a Christmas Day blockbuster, while New Year’s Day will see the New Zealand Breakers make the trip across the Tasman in another mouthwatering contest.

Fans will be nervous for…

Any chance to face a newly crowned NBL champion is always a spicy encounter and the JackJumpers won’t have to wait long when they face the Sydney Kings on their home court in Round Two.

Both were Grand Finalists during the 2021/22 season in what looks to be a growing rivalry.

The JackJumpers will fancy themselves as contenders again heading into the 2023/24 campaign and a Round Two matchup against the reigning champions will be an early measuring stick for Tasmania.

The game you can’t miss…

The Christmas Day blockbuster against the Phoenix is must-watch TV this season, it’s a top-billing matchup after both teams made the postseason last season and will be strong again.

A building tradition of playing NBL on Christmas Day the JackJumpers will host the Phoenix in what should be a gripping contest in front of a packed Tasmanian crowd.

Andrew Macdougall

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