The Adelaide 36ers bludgeoned their way into their first grand final in 12 years with a series-clinching 102-63 belting of the Melbourne Tigers in game three of their NBL semi-final series at Adelaide Arena on Tuesday night.
Minus suspended American guard Gary Ervin and coming off an 11-point loss in game two at Hisense Arena, the Sixers came out breathing fire, dominating the shellshocked Tigers at both ends of the floor to set up a three-game grand final series with the Perth Wildcats.
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.
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 two, was held to just six points at 20 per cent, while Mark Worthington had a night to forget (seven points, 1-of-13 from the floor).
The visitors were demolished on the boards 49-36 and held to a dismal 26 per cent from the field and 22 per cent from three-point territory, compared to Adelaide’s 52 per cent field goals, 50 per cent from downtown.
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.
Big men Scott Morrison, Lucas Walker and Adam Ballinger racked up three early fouls apiece and Daniel Johnson (12 first-half points) took full advantage.
A 9-0 run ended an already dominant term and helped Adelaide catapult to a 22-point half-time lead, the Tigers ending a poor half with a dusty air-ball from Mark Worthington (0-for-9 for the half).
The one-way traffic continued in the third, the chasm blowing out to 65-34 mid-quarter.
Cadee was enormous with 13 points for the stanza, his lay-up in the final second after a BJ Anthony steal, making it 79-47 at three-quarter-time.
The margin swelled to 44 points when young development guard Kyle Adnam finished on the break, the Sixers celebrating the end of a prolonged drought emphatically.