36ers force NBL grand final decider

Steve Barrett
AAP

Adelaide have survived a scare to win game four of their NBL grand final series 90-81, levelling the ledger 2-2 and forcing a championship decider against Melbourne United next Saturday.

After the 36ers dominated the first half to lead 55-31 on Sunday in Adelaide, United embarked on a stunning second-half fightback.

Melbourne reduced the margin to 13 points at three-quarter-time before further inroads were made in the fourth as Josh Boone's dunk midway through the term made it a four-point ballgame.

The silverware was suddenly in United's sights.

Adelaide rallied through the coolness of Ramone Moore before a clutch corner three to Johnson (21 points, nine rebounds) and the fouling out of Tai Wesley, David Barlow and Boone ended Melbourne's brave challenge.

Pic: Getty

Nathan Sobey (16 points), who was ejected at halftime of Friday's spiteful game three defeat at Hisense Arena and subsequently fined for headbutting, sparked the Sixers early before Casey Prather (23 points) spearheaded United's gallant comeback.

Incredibly, Melbourne had 25 field-goal attempts to Adelaide's 10 in the opening term but the 36ers' sizzling 80 per cent clip plus a massive advantage in free-throw attempts (16-1) saw them skip ahead 29-21.

United's nightmare escalated in the second stanza as the margin blew out to 24 points at halftime.

The visitors shot 22 per cent from the field for the term and 1-of-15 from three-point territory across the opening half.

Somehow United regrouped to outscore Adelaide 27-16 in the third with a Prather-inspired 10-2 flurry to close the quarter whittling the margin back to 71-58 at the final break.

Melbourne wasn't done, dominating early in the fourth to make it a 21-4 overall run before the Sixers ensured the most riveting grand final series in the NBL's 40-year history will go the distance on Easter Saturday in Melbourne.

Adelaide reserve Anthony Drmic felt offensive and defensive lapses allowed United to claw their way back into the game.

"When we're not playing good defence and not sharing the ball that's when Melbourne are able to make those runs," Drmic said.

United coach Dean Vickerman felt the flow of the match resembled their 15-point game-two defeat in Adelaide a week ago where his side was forced to play catch-up after starting poorly.

"It was a bit too similar to the first time we played here (when) the margin crept out significantly in the first half," he said.

"We were a little passive defensively.

"If we're more aggressive and stopping them from getting to paint, that's a better option for us."