Playoffs Game 2: CSKA, Madrid prevail in close games
The first two Game 2s on Thursday were both tough games decided in the final minute, but they left each of those series in much different situations. CSKA Moscow prevailed over Khimki Moscow Region to take a commanding 2-0 series lead, while Real Madrid bested Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens to even their best-of-five series at 1-1. The remaining two Game 2 contests are on Friday. It must be noted that to date no team has ever recovered from a 0-2 deficit to win a EuroLeague Playoffs series.
CSKA Moscow 89-84 Khimki Moscow Region (2-0)
CSKA took a commanding 2-0 lead over crosstown rival Khimki with an 89-84 win on Thursday night at Megasport Arena. Sergio Rodriguez dominated for the shorthanded hosts with a career-high 26 points plus 10 assists. Khimki led at halftime and entered the fourth quarter trailing by 2, but Cory Higgins led an 11-2 CSKA run that gave it the game's first double-digit lead. Even though Khimki railed late through Anthony Gill, Higgins iced the game with free throws. Higgins finished with 19 points for the Russian champs, who were without injured stars Nando De Colo and Kyle Hines. Gill tied his career high with 24 points for Khimki, but league-leading scorer Alexey Shved was held to a season-low 12 points on 2-of-9 three-point shooting.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens 82-89 Real Madrid (1-1)
Real Madrid bounced back from a Game 1 loss by edging Panathinaikos 82-89 in the Greek capital on Thursday. The Greens led 40-36 at halftime before Felipe Reyes and Jaycee Carroll took over for Madrid, leading a 0-7 run that tied the game. Trey Thompkins also stepped up as Madrid grabbed a 61-68 margin after three quarters. Panathinaikos tied the game at 68-68, but Thompkins and Rudy Fernandez rescued Madrid and free throws by Luka Doncic sealed the outcome. Madrid made 11 of 20 three-pointers (55%) and outrebounded the hosts 24-43. Reyes led the winners with 18 points and Carroll added 17, both off the bench.Mike James paced Panathinaikos with 20 points.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs Zalgiris Kaunas (0-1)
After squandering a 15-point lead in Game 1, Olympiacos Piraeus – which has now set a new single-season record by featuring in six overtime games – must call upon its legendary character to maintain realistic Final Four ambitions on Friday. A big factor behind Zalgiris's success on Wednesday was its ball-handling, committing just 7 turnovers compared to 16 from the home team. Zalgiris has now won all three games against Olympiacos this season, and will continue to lean heavily upon an outstanding three-point shooting game which yielded 10-of-22 attempts (45.5%) in Game 1, with usual suspects Kevin Pangos and Arturas Milaknis combining for seven downtown strikes. Olympiacos needs to slow down red-hot Brandon Davies, and find other players to give more offensive support to Spanoulis. The Reds will be particularly hopeful that Georgios Printezis continues to gain rhythm after returning from injury.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul vs KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (1-0)
Fenerbahce will look to maintain its homecourt advantage after a dominant showing in Wednesday's Game 1, which saw Zeljko Obradovic's men take a big early lead and never look seriously troubled. One of the best aspects of the reigning champs' performance was its ball-sharing, with its total of 21 assists – led by 11 from Kostas Sloukas – falling just one short of a club playoffs record. Baskonia, which is without Jayson Granger, needs to improve its three-point shooting: the Spanish team is one of the most accurate teams in the league beyond the arc (39.9% during the regular season), but made only 6-of-21 attempts (28.6%) on Wednesday, not helped by the usually dangerous Rodrigue Beaubois going 0-of-5. Fenerbahce also won the rebounding battle 34-27, although Baskonia can draw encouragement from grabbing 15 offensive boards.