Playoffs, Game 1: All four home teams take series openers
Defense and home cooking were the names of the game on Tuesday when the Quarterfinal Playoffs arrived with series openers stretching the continent from Moscow, Russia to Malaga, Spain. All four home teams rolled to victory by an average margin of 21 points on Tuesday, sending the guests home to patch up those differences in a hurry. Game 2 of each best-of-three series comes on Thursday, and if they can keep their momentum on the road, victories by any Tuesday's winners would send them to the Final Four. Appropriately enough, the defending champions set the tone for Tuesday, asCSKA manhandled visiting Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv by 80-58 at home in Moscow. CSKA's early 15-1 run, leading to a 22-6 scoreboard after one quarter, left Maccabi gasping for air the rest of the way. Trajan Langdon led the winners with 16 points, while David Andersen added 14 and J.R. Holden 12. Theodoros Papaloukas had 8 of CSKA's 20 assists, while Maccabi's whole team only dished 5. A similar pattern followed in Athens, where Panathinaikos downed visiting Dynamo Moscow, also by 80-58and also on the strength of big early leads. A 23-11 first quarter that featured 10 points by Ramunas Siskauskas in his return from injury boosted the Greens to an easy victory. Sani Becirovic led the hosts with 17 points while Siskauskas added 16. Team rebounding meant a lot to the Greens, who pulled 37 boards to 25 for Dynamo even though no single home-team player had more than 5. The record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game until now was 57 - set by CSKA in the series opener against Efes Pilsen last season - which means that both CSKA and Panathinaikos were within a basket of breaking it on Tuesday. Right behind them was Tau Ceramica, an 84-59 winner against Olympiacos in a game that differed somewhat from the first two. Most of Tau's difference was built in the second half and came from the three-point arc, where the hosts out-shot the Reds by 9 to 2. Igor Rakocevic was the big gun for Tau, hitting 5 triples himself, including 3 in a first quarter in which hevaulted he outscored Olympiacos 14-2 himself. Rakocevic finished with 24 points and Serkan Erdogan 13 for the winners. Only Henry Domercant with 13 points and Sam Hoskin with 11 reached double digits for the Reds, who were hurt by 22 turnovers. The fourth home win of the night went to a team playing its first-ever playoff game, Unicaja, which prevailed 91-75 over visiting Winterthur FC Barcelona . Unicaja's victory was not only more offensive than the others, but also featured an incredible 54 points in bench scoring - almost as much as the losing teams in the other three games. Seven Unicaja shooters combined to hit 12 three-pointers in the game, paced by Marcus Faison, who nailed 5 from downtown on his way to 17 points. Ignacio De Miguel and Marko Tusek helped turn the game around by sharing 21 points in the second quarter alone for Unicaja. Barcelona, which got 15 points from Juan Carlos Navarro, fizzled after giving up the lead. The losers from Tuesday have just 48 hours to turn things while the winners will try to turn their momentum into road wins that take them all the way to the Final Four.