Adelaide 83, Wollongong 78
It wasn't pretty but the Sixers pulled off a critical win, downing the Hawks 83-78 in Adelaide yesterday.
The game started pretty slowly with Adelaide struggling to find much on offense and it's defense frustrating the Hawks but Coach Wright even more due to some bad team breakdowns. Adelaide used Gibbo extensively to guard the opposition "4" and Peach the "3", confusing the Hawks and taking them out of their rhythm. If it wasn't for some solid rebounding by Big Laz, the game could have almost been over at quarter time.
The second quarter stunk. Both teams coughed up the ball plenty of times while missing plenty of open shots. It was a 28 point total quarter (Adelaide 15, Wollongong 17) that saw Adelaide lead 42-37 at the half.
The Sixers lifted their intensity in the third but still couldn't shake the Hawks and with 4:36 it was 51-51 after a Neville basket. Adelaide then got going by attacking the rim relentlessly. Creek and Wilson sparked an 8-0 run (4 points each) that got Adelaide out to 59-51. The Hawks had no answers to slow Adelaide from here, Creek and Wilson combining for 9 of Adelaide's last 11 points for the quarter that saw in lead 70-59 at the end of the third.
It wasn't over yet though.
The Hawks opened the fourth with a 4-0 run but Adelaide countered with a 7-0 run to lead 77-63 with 5:53 left. A foul on a Tim Coenraad three killed Adelaide's momentum, Wollongong went on a stunning 13-0 run, with it's import backcourt of Ervin and Carson scoring 9. Adelaide was second guessing itself on offense and missing some easy shots. It missed 10 consecutive shots, Gibbo going 0/3 in that stretch as part of his horror 1/11 day. Luckily for Adelaide the Hawks missed some golden opportunities at their end too and it was left to Jamar Wilson to ice 6/6 from the line to give Adelaide a key win as it makes a remarkable playoffs run.
"Mayor Wilson" was outstanding again and Motum also very good. Peach and Mitch also came up with some big plays and worked tirelessly.
The Hawks just too many passengers. Martin and Coenraad combined to go 1/11. Ervin and Hill went 12/35. As usual, if the Hawks aren't nailing threes (4/22 yesterday) they're pushing it uphill to get wins.
With Melbourne losing yesterday, the Sixers are now tied with them for 10 wins but United has a game up it's sleeve. Unfortunately for them it's against Perth an Perth. If the Wildcats win that should lock down the Top 3 and Adelaide will juts need to win more than Melbourne to seal a playoff spot (if the teams finish with equal records United gets in due to the season series).
United is in the box seat though.
Of their last seven games, only one is against an existing Top 4 team (Cairns). Adelaide only has to two clashes against existing Top 4- the Breakers away and Perth at home. Adelaide has 4 home games, United 3. With Melbourne only needing to finish with the same number of wins as Adelaide, they would still be warm favourites for the fourth spot.
If McRae gets an NBA call up though and the Sixers land a former club MVP to replace BJ, that could all change very quickly.