Playoffs Game 4: Do-or-die everywhere!
An incredibly exciting playoffs phase continues on Thursday and Friday with all four series playing Game 4 for the first time in seven years, proving once again the intensely competitive nature of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Zalgiris Kaunas and Real Madrid can secure Final Four berths with home victories, while reigning champ Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul and CSKA Moscow can do the same by triumphing on the road. Let the battle recommence!
Zalgiris Kaunas vs Olympiacos Piraeus (2-1)
Zalgiris has the chance to make history on Thursday by beating Olympiacos for the fifth time this season to advance to the Final Four. In Game 3, Zalgiris made good use of the home-court factor and thrashed Olympiacos 80-60 in a defensive exhibition. The winners were led by 18 points from Brandon Davies and 13 by veteran captain Paulius Jankunas. The loss was the worst playoff defeat for Olympiacos since 2008 as only Vassilis Spanoulis stepped up with 14 points. The hosts outdid the visitors in assists (23-12) and also had the third-most accurate two-point shooting effort (72.7%) in playoffs history. The Reds are battling injury problems that have prevented some key players, such as Georgios Printezis, Nikola Milutinov and Kostas Papanikolaou, from competing at full strength. An amazing atmosphere at Zalgirio Arena will provide a great stage again, but the pride of Olympiacos is legendary, and the Greek giant cannot be counted out until the final buzzer. Get ready for one of the most electrifying games of the season.
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz vs Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul (1-2)
Baskonia hosts Fenerbahce on Thursday with the aim of keeping its season alive, having cut the series deficit to 2-1 by protecting its home floor in an 88-83 win on Tuesday. Rodrigue Beaubois led the way with 21 points and he is now averaging 15 points per game in this series. Beaubois paces a Baskonia backcourt that is employing an up-tempo style of play to challenge the Fenerbahce defense, and the Spanish team will hope that Jayson Granger can continue his return from injury with more minutes on Thursday. The biggest battle in this hard-fought series has been in the paint. Baskonia big man Toko Shengelia has been everywhere with 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the series, in a titanic battle with Jan Vesely, who averages 15.3 points and 8 rebounds through the first three games. This highly-entertaining series has been played at a very high level and nothing less is expected for Game 4.
Khimki Moscow Region vs CSKA Moscow (1-2)
Khimki forced Game 4 by claiming its first-ever playoffs win on Wednesday, overcoming local rivals CSKA 79-73. League-leading scorer Alexey Shved (27 points) and Anthony Gill (22) provided the main contributions as Khimki exploited the injury absences of key CSKA players Nando De Colo and Kyle Hines. The visiting team particularly suffered beyond the arc, shooting 5-for-23, and only dished 10 assists compared to a season average of 17, while also matching its second-worst mark in turnovers of the season (18). Khimki recovered Tyler Honeycutt from injury in Game 3 and his contribution on defense was key, so expect his role to only solidify in this next duel. CSKA will look to use its second chance to punch another Final Four ticket, with Game 2 MVP Sergio Rodriguez and Corey Higgins, who scored a career-high 26 points in Game 3, leading the charge.
Real Madrid vs Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens (2-1)
The Spanish capital will host Game 4 on Friday after Madrid took a 2-1 series lead with an epic win over Panathinaikos two days earlier. Last season's MVP and local hero Sergio Llull came back from an eight-month hiatus due to injury and fired up his team enough to help Los Blancos claim a breathless 81-74 victory. Jaycee Carroll stood above all his teammates with 17 points and no misses, including a crucial four-point play in the game's final minutes. Nick Calathes's 26 points were not enough to make the Greens succeed, even if they had options until the final plays. Panathinaikos won the battle for rebounds (36-38) but also came out on top in turnovers (11-14), and that proved decisive down the stretch. Madrid will look to its sparkling offense, which averages 85.6 points per game this season, to secure a Final Four-sealing victory, while Panathinaikos would prefer to slow the tempo and allow Calathes to take control. Expect sparks to fly!