Adelaide snatch place in NBL grand final

The Adelaide 36ers will play Melbourne United in the NBL grand final after they snatched an unlikely 89-88 win over the Perth Wildcats in game two of their semi-final series at Perth Arena.

After winning game one by 35 points, the 36ers trailed for all but the last 24.7 seconds of Friday's clash and had been behind by as many as 18 points in the first half.

But a 19-point second half from Josh Childress led the Adelaide charge after the main break.

Newly-crowned MVP Bryce Cotton could have tied the game with 8.5 seconds remaining by nailing two free-throws but he missed the first of his attempts.

With a game-high 31 points, it was hardly his fault the Cats didn't hold on.

Adelaide coach Joey Wright said they knew they were going to have to weather a Perth onslaught in the opening term.

"We played a quality ball club tonight who laid it all out," he said.

"We knew we had to weather that first quarter. And then fight our way back into it.

"We couldn't focus on being 18 points down. We had to chip away and get to the game plan that we wanted, which was to make contested shots and tough shops and box out and rebound. And we started to do that."

Cotton set the game's pace, scoring 19 points in the first quarter to give the Wildcats a 13-points at the first break.

Perth's defence that was torn apart in game one came together.

In nearly eight minutes to start the game, Mitch Creek was the only 36er to hit the scoreboard (with 10 points).

Adelaide have averaged almost 50 points in opening halved this season but managed only 40 on Friday night. The biggest half-time deficit they had overcome to win this season was seven points and they trailed by nine (49-40).

Something needed to change.

Shannon Shorter and Daniel Johnson failed to hit the scoreboard in the opening half. But two-and-a-half minutes into the second half the margin dropped to just one point - and both had hit the scoreboard.

A lower-leg cramp sent Cotton to the bench longer than the Cats could afford to have him there too.

But it was Childress who added 10 points in the third term and did everything except get Adelaide into the lead.

Fittingly though, he was the one who tied the scores with 46 seconds remaining and then put his side into the lead and the grand final.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said that while basketball can sometimes be a glorious game, sometimes it can be cruel.

"There were a couple of things that just didn't go out way," he said.

"A big call to have a three-point play, then an offense rebound. I thought we had it, but it bubbled out of our hands, they pick it up and get it again.

"The basketball Gods smile on you sometimes; and sometimes they take it away."

So, for the first time since the 2008-09 season, a team other than Perth or the New Zealand Breakers will win the NBL title.

The first game of the grand final will played at Hisense Arena on March 16.