Title favourites one week, season over the next.
Adelaide 36ers NBL playoffs campaign in 2016-17 was nothing short of a disaster and they had the Illawarra Hawks to thank.
The Hawks sent the minor premiers out backwards in the last season’s finals with a gutsy 2-1 series win over Joey Wright’s squad. It came as the 36ers held home court advantage on the back of a league-best 17-11 record.
That mattered little in a fiery game three in the South Australian capital where the Hawks prevailed 106-98 to send Adelaide packing.
Tensions flared after the contest when 36ers star import Jerome Randle’s wife Zhordan became involved in an ugly spat with travelling Illawarra fans. Randle, who labelled Illawarra ‘dirty’ before the series, has since moved on from Adelaide.
But memories of the emotion-charged clash remain.
On Saturday night, the two clubs face off again at Titanium Security Arena for the first time since the semi-final and Hawks coach Rob Beveridge is expecting another intense encounter.
"We know there'll be a sense of revenge or redemption over there, it was such a big occasion and their crowd will want to beat us,” Beveridge said.
"But it's also a big opportunity for us, to go over there and get another win on the road, it's an important game.
"I know how much it meant to our guys to win over there last season hopefully we can do it again.
"It's such a close league, every time you win a game away from home is vital, especially when we have a run of games at home to come."
While he knows Saturday will be a different kind of test to last seasons final, Beveridge said the victory in Adelaide last season was the best win of his coaching tenure at the Hawks so far.
His men will be looking to emulate the display in round six.
"We went over there and controlled the game last season, with a grand final spot on the line,” he said.
Adelaide (4-4) head into the match with a top-four spot locked down while Illawarra (3-5) can keep the pressure on their rivals as they look to make up for a slow start to the new campaign.
Tip off is at 7.30pm AEDT in Adelaide.