South East Melbourne Phoenix have been relegated to fourth and will play minor premiers Melbourne United in the NBL semi-finals after a shock 94-84 loss to the Brisbane Bullets.
Brisbane gave Andrej Lemanis a fitting farewell at Nissan Arena on Tuesday night in the regular season finale, upsetting the Phoenix in the Bullets coach's last game before he leaves for the Japanese league.
Phoenix could have finished third with a victory, booking a best of three semi-final series against second-placed Perth Wildcats who will be without star import and reigning NBL MVP Bryce Cotton (leg) for the rest of the season.
Instead, they face an ominous task in their maiden playoff campaign in only their second season.
They must tackle minor premiers United in a knockout semi-final showdown in Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena starting on Friday.
Illawarra Hawks finished third and will play the Wildcats starting in Perth on Thursday.
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell was just happy that his tired squad emerged unscathed and earned an extra day's rest before the semi-finals, starting on Friday rather than Thursday.
Locked out of Melbourne due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the Phoenix (20-16 record) had played in Cairns, New Zealand and then Brisbane in the last round alone and now head for Sydney.
"The priority for us was to get through unscathed, make sure everyone got a few touches," Mitchell said.
"I am tremendously proud of the players. It has been an extraordinarily difficult season with a couple of extra hurdles to climb on top of what everyone else has gone through."
On derby rivals United, Mitchell said: "We have beaten them twice but we haven't seen each other with full squads so there's an element of mystery on how we match up."
"Sixth-placed Brisbane (18-18 record) were knocked out of finals contention following Saturday's one-point loss to Sydney Kings.
However, they emerged on Tuesday night with a fire in the belly as former Boomers coach Lemanis drew the curtain on his NBL career.
The three-time championship-winning mentor marked his 150th game for Brisbane across five seasons, taking over the Bullets when they returned to the NBL in 2016.
Overall the two-time Coach of the Year's NBL career total was 408 games (216 wins, 192 losses), moving him to ninth on the all-time list.
"With the finality of it there is a tinge of sadness. The Bullets and the NBL have been a big part of my life," Lemanis said.
"But when I look at what lies ahead...then you get excited about it."
The Bullets were led by NBL MVP candidate Nathan Sobey (16 points, 11 rebounds) who finished as the league's leading point scorer for the regular season with 758 while import Lamar Patterson had a game-high 19.
For Phoenix, Boomers duo Mitch Creek (16pts) and Ryan Broekhoff (14pts, 3-4 three points shooting) stood up along with Ben Moore (16 boards).