Thanks to Yi Jianlian's game-high 29 points, eight-time CBA champions Guangdong beat Shenzhen 103-90 in Game 5 of the CBA semifinals on Sunday and won the best-of-seven series 4-1 to reach the finals.
Guangdong will meet Xinjiang in the finals, which kicks off on March 31. Xinjiang defeated Liaoning 4-1 in the other semifinal series.
Guangdong opened the match with an 11-0 run and forced Shenzhen a timeout. But the hosts hardly improved after the match resumed. Carlos Boozer led Guangdong in a 10-0 run and Guangdong headed into the second quarter with a lead of 15 points.
Yi, who scored only 15 points in the previous two matches, found his form as the CBA All-Star censer took 21 by half. Three more Guangdong players scored in double-digits after the first two quarters while Jeremy Pargo and Meng Duo led Shenzhen by nine points apiece.
Pargo scored 13 of his team-high 24 in the third quarter and Shenzhen headed into the final period by trailing 18 points.
The home team refused to give up and organized some impressive counter-back in the fourth quarter. Yu Dehao's eight points in that quarter helped Shenzhen to narrow the gap to 11 points. But Donald Sloan answered with back-to-back field goals which sealed the victory for Guangdong.
Yi also had 11 rebounds and four blocks. Boozer and Sloan added 25 and 17 respectively, while Zhou Peng had 20. Sloan grabbed 11 rebounds.
Pargo scored 24 points, the only Shenzhen player who had 20-plus points. The home team hit 22 out of 56 attempts in field shooting while their opponents were 33-of-47.
"We had a very slow start and let Guangdong made in too many easy baskets. It's hard for us to catch up with a team like Guandgdong when they were leading," said Wang Jianjun, Shenzhen's head coach. "Like I always said, Shenzhen is a very young team. Young players are not very stable. But tonight we fought like as a team and we lost as a team."
"My players were very concentrated from the beginning of the match. That's why we took control of this match very early," said Du Feng, head coach of Guangdong. "We had ups and downs in the series and we adjusted very quickly."
It's the first time for Guangdong to reach the CBA finals since the 2012-2013 season, when they won their eighth league title.
"It's very difficult for us to return the finals after a four-year wait. We had a tough start in the beginning of the season but we came back," said Du. "Xinjiang is a very tough opponent. We will try our best to make them some troubles."