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Lightning-Fire for the Final Four

SITTING precariously on a 5-6 win-loss record behind fourth-placed Townsville's 7-4, Adelaide needs three results to go its way to unexpectedly snuff the Fire out of the playoffs.

While the remote possibility seemed little more than a pipe dream earlier this week, it now looms as a distinct chance, provided Lightning gets three strikes and the Fire are out.

Strike One? Adelaide must beat Townsville tomorrow night. In the revised draw, Adelaide and Townsville meet only this one time in the regular season so the winner of this will have the head-to-head advantage in the event of a win-loss record tie.

So should Lightning win, its record would go to 6-6 and Townsviile's to 7-5.

Strike Two? Adelaide then needs Melbourne to beat Townsville on Sunday. Bear in mind, when these sides met for the first time in Round Two, Townsville stunned the Boomers with an 87-75 victory, so this result is no certainty either.

MVP CANDIDATE: Adelaide's Steph Talbot has been a stand-out, despite the ghastly grey outfit.

But it should be a point of pride for the Boomers and if they do get the W, Townsville's win-loss ratio would slip to 7-6.

Strike Three? Adelaide then must beat Sydney Uni in the last game of the regular season to take its own record to 7-6, matching the Fire's. By virtue of their win over Townsville (See "Strike One") that would push Lightning into the Final Four at the eleventh hour.

It undoubtedly makes the Adelaide-Townsville matchup something of a mini-grand final for both clubs as a Fire win there puts paid to all further speculation.

How Adelaide even remains in the hunt is something of a minor miracle. Starting the season behind the eightball losing Alanna Smith (pictured) and Kristy Wallace before a shot was even fired, Lightning also copped the most debilitating draw of the clubs in the WNBL hub.

That only got worse when Adelaide's personnel was forced into lockdown for nine days over a COVID-19 outbreak back in SA long after they left for Queensland.

Let's be clear. This was no sit-by-the-pool-sipping-cocktails or go-out-and-train lockdown, as some have tried to imply. This was a hand-in-your-keys, locked-in-your-room lockdown which lasted nine days and was the blueprint for a definite rise in  stir craziness and agitation.

Against Bendigo last night, it was another slow start for Lightning as Carley Ernst enjoyed a career-best opening period, slotting 17 points en route to a game-high 32 for the Spirit.

Lightning mostly erased that 12-23 quarter-time deficit to be 33-34 by halftime, then uncorked a champagne few minutes to close the third period ahead 59-47.

LEAD WHITTLED AWAY: Marena Whittle is first to the ball in the win over Bendigo.

That 26-13 outburst broke Bendigo's spirit as the team consigned itself to completing this hub season with an egg in the Wins column.

Alex Wilson's 3-pointer to close the third quarter delivered the dagger, Adelaide with a much wider spread of scorers, all five starters in double figures.

Louella Tomlinson off the bench also was a huge factor as Adelaide gave itself a tiny chance of continuing on to the post-season party.

LAST NIGHT: Adelaide Lightning 69 (Talbot 15, Wilson 14, Wehrung 12, Brook 11, Whittle 10; Talbot 6 rebs; Tomlinson, Wehrung 3 assts) d Bendigo Spirit 59 (Ernst 32, Lavey 17; Ernst 15 rebs; Lavey 6 assts) in Cairns.

Dec 10

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.