Bynum into starting five
Maccabi coach Zvi Sherf made a tactical change right away, shaking up his starting lineup and giving Will Bynum just his fourth start of the Euroleague season. The last time Bynum was in the first five came in Maccabi's first Quarterfinal Playoffs game against AXA FC Barcelona.
Flashback to Prague
When Maccabi went ahead 5-0 to start the game, there were flashbacks to the 2006 Final in Prague betwen the same two teams. Two years before, a 7-0 Maccabi start prompted an immediate timeout taken by CSKA Moscow head coach Ettore Messina, after which his team turned things around. No such timeout was needed this time. CSKA's starters responded with the next 7 points in a row to take their team's first lead.
CSKA shows muscle early
CSKA Moscow controlled the boards early to grab a 16-10 lead, out-rebounding Maccabi 8-3 after seven minutes, including four offensive rebounds. Maccabi also struggled in the categories which usually mean a lack of concentration, making just 2-of-6 free throws and committing four turnovers during that time.
Maccabi goes inside
Down 18-13, Maccabi worked hard to get the ball into the paint with Bynum feeding Omri Casspi and Esteban Batista. The duo was key in evening the game at 21-21, scoring six straight points before Moscow led 21-22 after one period. Batista continued his superb night in the initial stages of the second quarter. In his first seven minutes on the court in Madrid, the Uruguayan center collected 10 points, 7 rebounds - three offensive - and 1 assist as Maccabi jumped ahead 29-27.
Langdon's long ball vs. Bynum's brashness
Tragdon Langdon dropped two three-balls in the first quarter and drained two more in the second - for a perfect 4-of-4 - to help Moscow move ahead 31-38. But that's when Will Bynum - all 1.83 meters of him - the game into his own hands. Bynum converted an acrobatic driving layup before missing two layups among the CSKA giants down low. Then he knocked down a three-ball with 2.5 seconds left to make it 41-42. But Bynum's free throws woes wasted a chance to even things at the break - as his miss following a chance for a four-point play was off and he moved to just 3-of-6 from the charity stripe in the first half.
Thriller of a first half
In the game's first 14 minutes, there were 7 ties and 9 lead changes. Maccabi's biggest lead was its first one, 0-5, while CSKA opened a 31-38 gap late in the second quarter. That didn't last, either. This time Maccabi had the 7-0 run to tie on a three-point strike by Bluthenthal. CSKA seemed to have control again at 38-42, but Will Bynum drilled a triple and was fouled with seconds left in the half, offering a game-tying four-point play opportunity that made the Maccabi minions even louder. Alas, he missed and CSKA led 41-42 at the break.
Greek shooting practice
After a Greek contestant missed a chance at winning a €1 million when he missed his three-pointers, the next man out on the court was his countryman and national hero, Theodoros Papaloukas, practicing his own triples a minute before any other player from either team came back from the locker room.
Hot Holden and accurate Andersen
J.R. Holden knocked down two three-balls in a span of 26 seconds and David Andersen's second basket of the quarter - a turn-around jumper - allowed CSKA to grab its biggest lead of the night - 43-52. Batista scored four more points within two minutes of entering the game but Andersen also knocked down a triple to retain that 9-point advantage - 47-56.
All good things come to those who wait
With just more than a minute left in the third, CSKA coach Ettore Messina had substituted in Tomas van den Spiegel. But after a subsequent Maccabi player change, Messina tried to bring van den Spiegel back out - which was not allowed since the Moscow center did not play yet. It turns out to be a good thing as van den Spiegel grabbed an offensive rebound and then drew an unsportsmanlike foul. Unfortunately for CSKA, he was only able to make 1-of-2 foul shots, missing a chance to open the first double-digit lead of the championship bout.
Siskauskas handy with the sweeper as well
Ramunas Siskauskas cannot just hand the ball effectively. The Lithuanian star proved with just over 8 minutes left in the game that he can handle his own with the sweeper as well. The ball was lodged behind the backboard after a Yotam Halperim three-ball bounced over the glass and landed on the cameras mounted behind the backboard. Siskauskas grabbed the sweeper and on the first attempt pushed the ball back to the Earth - drawing an amused applause from the Madrid crowd.
Better late than never
Matjaz Smodis picked an excellent time to knock down his first three-pointer of the 2008 Final Four. His triple with 6:41 remaining in the game gave Moscow a 14-point advantage, 71-57. Smodis let out a huge scream after the shot. After all, he missed his first 10 three-balls in Madrid - 0-of-7 in the semifinals against Tau Ceramica and then his first three against Maccabi.