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Melbourne United vs Adelaide 36ers | NBL18 Grand Final
|The 5th and final deciding game Melbourne United vs Adelaide 36ers at Hisense Arena to decide the winners of the 2018 NBL crown.|
Game 5 - Time 6pm Saturday, March 31 at Hisense Arena
The Adelaide 36ers turned on their trademark scintillating basketball to rock Titanium Security Arena on Sunday but had to withstand a stunning Melbourne United comeback to win 90-81 and force the NBL Grand Final to Game 5.
Coming off the disappointment of letting Melbourne get under their skins in Game 3 at Hisense Arena on Friday with Nathan Sobey ejected for retaliating to Casey Prather with Josh Childress already out injured, Adelaide returned home with a point to prove.
Desperate to force the Grand Final to a Game 5 next Saturday night back in Melbourne, the Sixers were at their scorching best to open a 24-point advantage.
Despite their fantastic play Coach Joey Wright refused to answer questions post-game and left it to Anthony Drmic to do the heavy lifting.
"Our team defence pulled through that was just the key to do what we were doing on the screens and rotate and I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight," Drmic said.
But Melbourne was never going to leave without giving it a shake. They did close to within four down the stretch, but Adelaide held on to win by nine and book another chapter into what now is one of the great Grand Final series.
It was a nervous Adelaide stadium during much of the fourth quarter as they witnessed a Melbourne unit, that to half-time shot an abysmal 1/15 three pointers and 30 per cent from the field, pile on 50 second half points.
Prather (23 points, seven rebounds, two steals) was a man possessed and Craig Moller (nine points, four rebounds) was a key cog in the resurgence with a third quarter purple patch.
But it was Adelaide's quiet achiever Daniel Johnson (21 points, nine rebounds) called upon to save the day.
With the shot clock winding down, Melbourne looked set to force a turnover but Ramone Moore (12 points, five rebounds) found the peeling Johnson who nailed the three from the corner to give his side an eight-point advantage.
That proved enough as David Barlow cost his team the slim chance of victory with a technical foul moments later despite a Chris Goulding (15 points, four rebounds, four assists) three, a disappointing finish for coach Dean Vickerman.
"I thought we got fouls because we were a little bit passive tonight, I think if we become more aggressive and stop them getting to the paint that will be a little better for us," he said.
The 36ers scalped Melbourne defensively after holding them under 90 points for the first time this season in eight encounters, helped by the rebounding numbers of Shannon Shorter (14 points, eight rebounds), Mitch Creek (10 points, eight rebounds) and Drmic (four points, eight rebounds).
Despite the obvious impact the home fans had on the visitors, Goulding was adamant that it was the players that are to be the focus.
"It's great that we're playing in front of really vocal crowds but we have to be the ones that put the put the ball through the hoop," he said.
Adelaide jetted out to an 19-8 lead in the first five minutes as Sobey did his best Harlem Globetrotters impression with an out of this world reverse layup.
Creek and Majok Deng had Josh Boone's number on defence and Adelaide was smoking on 8/10 from the field and getting the line 16 times, making 12.
A 29-21 advantage was the result, despite Melbourne shooting 25 jump shots for the quarter.
Johnson was the first player in double figures in the second, but some scary scenes overshadowed him when Creek collided with a group of courtside fans leaving a number prostrate on the ground.
All were quick to make a full recovery and Adelaide surged ahead to lead 55-31 at the main break; Shorter and Sobey joining Johnson in double figures.
Goulding and Prather attempted to resuscitate the visitors in the third scoring six and 10 points respectively.
They succeeded in narrowing the gap to 71-58 at the final change despite having three players on three fouls and finals stalwart Barlow with four.
The stage is now set for a classic Game 5 on Saturday night at Hisense arena as United chase their clubs first ever championship and the Sixers a fifth, and first since 2002.
NBL GRAND FINAL SERIES GAME 4
ADELAIDE 36ERS 90 (Johnson 21, Sobey 16, Shorter 14)
MELBOURNE UNITED 81 (Prather 23, Goulding 15, Ware 13)
Best-of-5 Series tied at 2-2
Grand Final Schedule (all local times in AEDT):
Game 1 - Melbourne United vs Adelaide 36ers - 7:30pm Friday, March 16 at Hisense Arena
Game 2 - Adelaide 36ers vs Melbourne United - 3:00pm Sunday, March 18 at Titanium Security Arena
Game 3 - Melbourne United vs Adelaide 36ers - 7:30pm Friday, March 23 at Hisense Arena
Game 4 - Adelaide 36ers vs Melbourne United - Time TBC Sunday, March 25 at Titanium Security Arena
Game 5 - Melbourne United vs Adelaide 36ers - Time TBC Saturday, March 31 at Hisense Arena
BEC Brisbane Entertainment Centre
BCEC Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
CCC Cairns Convention Centre
GCCC Gold Coast Convention Centre
CS Carrara Stadium
HA Hisense Arena
NSEC North Shore Events Centre (NZ)
PA Perth Arena
QBA Qudos Bank Arena
SA Spark Arena - New Zealand
SNHC State Netball Hockey Centre
TSA Titanium Security Arena
VA Vector Arena (NZ)
WEC WIN Entertainment Centre
Web Link: Melbourne United vs Adelaide 36ers | NBL18 Grand Final
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