The Adelaide 36ers have bludgeoned their way into their first grand final in 12 years with a series-clinching 102-63 belting of the Melbourne Tigers in Game 3 of the semi-final series at Adelaide Arena.
Minus suspended American guard Gary Ervin and coming off an 11-point loss in Game 2 at Hisense Arena, the Sixers came out breathing fire on Tuesday night, smashing the shellshocked Tigers at both ends of the floor from start to finish.
Daniel Johnson (23 points at 62 per cent) led all scorers, while reserve guard Jason Cadee (19 points, 15 after half-time) stepped up admirably in Ervin’s absence to help book a grand final berth against the Perth Wildcats.
“I thought it would be a much closer game,” said victorious Adelaide coach Joey Wright, who steered the Brisbane Bullets to the 2007 NBL pennant.
“We’ve played well before without Gary so I knew the ability was there but definitely didn’t see a blowout coming like this.
“This goes down in the history books.”
Lucas Walker (11 points) was the only Melbourne player to hit double-digits, despite having a forgettable, foul-affected evening.
Chris Goulding, who chalked up 37 points in Game 2, was held to just six points at 20 per cent, while Mark Worthington had a shocker (seven points, 1-of-13 from the floor).
Adelaide’s swarming, physical defence was crucial in fashioning a 23-14 quarter-time buffer before things got even worse for Melbourne in the second period.
A 9-0 run ended an already dominant term and helped Adelaide catapult to a 22-point half-time lead, the Tigers ending a dismal half with a dusty air-ball from Worthington.
The one-way traffic continued in the third, the chasm blowing out to 65-34 mid-quarter.
The carnage just never ceased, the margin swelling to a scarcely-believable 44 points when young development guard Kyle Adnam finished on the break, the Sixers celebrating the end of a prolonged drought emphatically.
“That was as well as they (Adelaide) have played and we picked a hell of a time to have an ordinary one,” Melbourne coach Chris Anstey said.
“We ran out of petrol tickets. Overall we got out rebounded, out hustled and they seemed to have more fuel in their tank than we did.”
ADELAIDE 36ERS 102 (Johnson 23, Cadee 19, Petrie 13)
MELBOURNE TIGERS 63 (Walker 11, Tomlinson 9, Greer 9)
CROWD: 4024 at Adelaide Arena
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