One of the great NBL turnarounds is almost complete after the Illawarra Hawks cruised to a 97-83 win over the Adelaide 36ers in Wollongong on Sunday.
After collecting the dreaded wooden spoon last season with just five wins to their name, the Hawks now only need one more victory from their remaining two matches to earn a playoff spot with a top four finish.
Remarkably Illawarra are even a chance of snapping up third place after clinching season win number 19 for the first time since 2006.
The Hawks (19-15 record) leapfrogged South East Melbourne Phoenix (18-15) for third spot with their seventh win in eight games, although the latter has a game in hand and a superior points percentage.
Boomers great Andrew Gaze believed Illawarra blew a chance to improve their percentage against third-last Adelaide, saying they failed to keep their foot on the visitors' throat after leading 90-65 in the fourth term.
"They didn't seize the opportunity. Yes, a win is important but when we get to the pointy end of the season that percentage could be more significant in a week's time," TV commentator Gaze said.
Still, the finals formula is now simple for Illawarra ahead of their final games - both at home - against defending champions Perth on Tuesday and fellow finals aspirants Sydney Kings (17-17) on Thursday - win one and you're in.
A top four finish would cap a stunning rebuild under six-time championship-winning coach - and Boomers mentor - Brian Goorjian who took over the Hawks reins this season upon his NBL return after 11 years in China.
"We are starting to build this thing with the team and the fans," Goorjian said after clinching victory in front of more than 3,000 adoring supporters.
"I told the guys I am excited (about the run home to the finals). It's war, this is why you are in the game - playing in these games that count (for playoff spots).
"Let's see where this takes us but I am enjoying this immensely."
Sharp shooting import Tyler Harvey stood up again for Illawarra with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists while forward Sam Froling had 14 points and bench weapons Tim Coenraad (12pts, 4-of-6 three-point shooting) and Dan Grida (10pts) also hurt Adelaide.
The 36ers (13-22 record) lost six straight for the first time since December 2014 despite the best efforts of Sunday Dech (15 points), Brandon Paul (13pts) and a double-double from Keanu Pinder (11pts, 11 rebounds).
Illawarra didn't produce a turnover in the first half as they led 31-25 at the first break, 52-38 by the main interval and 80-61 at the end of the third quarter.