Melbourne has brought the 36ers’ rollercoaster NBL season to a merciful end, the minor premiers cruising to an emphatic 22-point win in their relocated home game at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
United secured top spot on the ladder and home court advantage throughout the finals on Friday night with a 14-point win over second-placed Perth.
Despite playing two games in three days, United were untroubled by the largely listless Sixers on their way to a 102-80 win on Sunday.
The result means United swept the 36ers in four meetings this season, with Melbourne the only team Adelaide failed to beat at least once this year.
The Sixers were considered one of the form teams of the competition when they kept their finals hopes alive with an overtime win over the Kings in early May but ended their season on a demoralising seven-game losing streak.
Jock Landale and Scotty Hopson did the damage for United with 19 points apiece, while Chris Goulding finished with 12 points – all three-pointers on 4-from-6 shooting from long range.
Adelaide import Tony Crocker saved his best for last, shooting a season-high 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor, while Daniel Johnson had 18 points.
The result improved United’s win-loss record to 28-8, while Adelaide finish seventh on the ladder with a 13-23 record.
Melbourne United secured the minor premiership in their penultimate game of the regular season. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Dean Vickerman flipped the script from the tip-off with regular starters Goulding, Landale, Mitch McCarron and Mason Peatling all looking on as the coach gave his bench players an early chance to shine.
The Sixers were unable to take advantage, lacking focus and energy at times as they started 0-9 shooting from the floor to fall behind 28-21 at the first break – the 12th time they had trailed at quarter time in their last 13 matches of the season.
United led by as much as 18 points in the second term before easing to a 53-40 lead at halftime, with Jo Lual-Acuil and Hopson leading the way with 10 points each in the first half.
Johnson continued to toil away for the Sixers in the third quarter, but his late unsportsmanlike foul on Lual-Acuil helped the margin blow out to 77-61 at the last break, with Landale draining 10 points for the period.
Crocker drained three foul shots to make it 79-70 with just over six minutes left in the contest, but that was as close as it got, Melbourne effortlessly accelerating away for a comfortable win.
Sixers swan song
Import pair Brandon Paul and Crocker are both out of contract and may well have made their last appearances for Adelaide. Both have struggled to fill the talent void left by stars Josh Giddey (NBA draft) and Isaac Humphries (foot injury), but at least Crocker finished on a high, while Paul made 14 points.
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