Beware of the super dangerous defending NBL champions NZ Breakers, that's the warning from one rival coach heading into this week's playoffs.
The Breakers are bidding for a fifth title in six seasons, but were inconsistent for much of the current campaign, rarely winning on Australian courts.
With the familiar and enticing scent of finals in their nostrils the Breakers have been an entirely different beast over the past three rounds.
They have won five straight, the longest streak of any of the four finalists, with two of those victories coming on the road.
The fourth-placed Breakers play minor premiers Melbourne in a best of three-game semifinal series starting on Thursday, while second-placed Perth face third-placed Illawarra in the other series commencing on Friday.
The Wildcats won all four regular season clashes with Illawarra, while the Breakers won three out of four against Melbourne, including back-to-back final round home and away encounters.
"I think New Zealand are super dangerous, they are coming at the right time, they've won their last few games," Illawarra Hawks coach Rob Beveridge told AAP.
"I've watched them play and they have that look in their eye, they are looking quite nasty.
"If I was Melbourne I'd be really concerned about New Zealand, I'd be really worried.
"I've always said right from day dot that New Zealand and Perth are going to be the teams to beat, because they have been there and done that.
"That's no disrespect to Melbourne or any other team, these guys just know how to win."
Beveridge insisted all the pressure was on the other three semifinalists as he said they were better resourced than the Hawks, who he described as "the paupers of the league."