Playoffs Game 2: The plot thickens
After a pair of 95-point outbursts by Game 1 winners CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens on Tuesday, defenses came to the fore as Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul continued the home-team streak before Zalgiris Kaunas snapped it with an overtime classic. Game 2 looms large for Tuesday's losers, as no team has ever recovered from a 0-2 deficit to win a EuroLeague Playoffs series.
CSKA Moscow vs Khimki Moscow Region (1-0)
CSKA took Game 1 on Tuesday despite losing superstar guard Nando De Colo to a leg injury, and his status is uncertain for this game. Kyle Hines is also expected to be out again, while Tyler Honeycutt remains a major doubt for Khimki. The visiting team must rebound better if it wants to win Game 2, with CSKA having won the Game 1 battle of the boards 40-25 by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. Khimki also picked up 33 fouls – the most by any playoffs team since 2009 – and sent CSKA to the foul line 43 times (37-of-43, 86%). As always, CSKA's first defensive priority must be slowing down Alexey Shved, the EuroLeague's top scorer, through whom Khimki runs its offense. Khimki shot more outside (36) than inside the arc (32) on Tuesday, with those 36 three-point attempts marking a playoffs record.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs Real Madrid (1-0)
Panathinaikos will look to continue its backcourt dominance after Nick Calathes set a new single-game playoffs record with 16 assists and Mike James scored 24 points in a Game 1 blow-out, allowing the Greens to score 95 points – the club's highest ever in a non-overtime playoff game. One of the main flaws for Madrid was 3-for-19 three-point shooting – 15.8%, compared to its usual 37.2%. Seven different Madrid players had attempts from beyond the arc without scoring, while Panathinaikos had a solid 54.5% from the same distance. With Facundo Campazzo still sidelined, Madrid will need more involvement from young star Luka Doncic (10 points in Game 1), on whom Panathinaikos focused its defense. Madrid also needs a return to form from Jaycee Carroll, Walter Tavares and Fabien Causeur, who combined for 9 points instead of their average of 23.
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.