This game presents two teams with much in common. Both Olympiacos and Khimki have split their last four games and each team won the first game of last week's two-round week at home and lost the second game on the road. Olympiacos comes into the game one win out of fourth place, while Khimki is one win outside of the playoff zone. The Reds will welcome back center Nikola Milutinov, who missed the last through games through illness, but has otherwise dominated in the paint this season. Khimki hopes to have reigning Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner Alexey Shved back this week after missing six weeks with a broken finger.
This game features so many stars on both sides, but perhaps the biggest matchup will be on the sidelines, where both coaches have ties to several of the opposition's players. Khimki's Georgios Bartzokas served as the Reds' head coach from 2012 until 2014 and led the team to the 2013 EuroLeague title in London. In that time, he coached current Olympiacos players Vassilis Spanoulis, Kostas Papanikolaou, Georgios Printezis, Vangelis Mantzaris and Dimitrios Agravanis. Olympiacos boss David Blatt coached Khimki players Alexey Shved, Sergey Monia and Egor Vyaltsev on the Russian national team and won Olympic and EuroBasket medals with the former two.
Earlier this year
Olympiacos blitzed Khimki 66-87 in Moscow on opening night with Zach LeDay, Sasha Vezenkov and Janis Strelnieks all scoring in double figures off the bench. Alexey Shved ran wild for 34 points on 8-of-16 three-point shooting plus 6 assists, but did not get enough support. Khimki players totaled just 2 points off the bench. The Reds dominated the glass 20-38.
Keys to victory: Olympiacos
Olympiacos leads the league in rebounding (36.4 rpg.) and has the league's top rebounder in Nikola Milutinov (8.4 rpg.), while Khimki is second-to-last in rebounding (30.1 rpg.) and has only one player (Jordan Mickey, 4.9 rpg.) averaging more than half as many boards as Milutinov. Continued domination of the glass and the put-backs that come with it could propel the Reds to another win on Thursday.
Keys to victory: Khimki
If Alexey Shved is available for the game, his return would be an immediate boost for the team both as a scorer and to deflect attention from the other scorers. With or without Shved, the key to victory for Khimki is outside shooting. Coach Bartzokas's side leads the league in three-point shots attempted (29.4 per game) and has attempted the fewest two-pointers (31.1). For that to work, the extra threes have to go in.
Nikola Milutinov is back with Olympiacos after missing some games with injury.
Alexey Shved is still sidelined for Khimki.