Road to Madrid: CSKA Moscow

Apr 30, 2015 by Euroleague.net Print
Road to Madrid: CSKA Moscow

With consistent excellence that's more impressive with each passing year, CSKA Moscow continued to dominate courts across the continent during this Turkish Airlines Euroleague season. Already the club with the most total and consecutive Final Four appearances, CSKA took the high road to another one by posting the Euroleague's best record again. With its 12th qualification in 13 seasons, CSKA not only holds the record with eight Final Fours in a row between 2003 and 2010, but after a one-season absence, has tied for second place behind itself with a new streak of four. Such sustained brilliance is its own reward, but CSKA will certainly seek a shinier one in the shape of a cup when it gets to the Spanish capital to try to relive its last Euroleague championship season there in 2008.

Under a new head coach, Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA stormed into action by posting the regular season's only perfect record, 10 victories by an average of 16.2 points. CSKA took its winning streak to 15 games before losing twice in the Top 16, but nonetheless finished with that phase's best record, 12-2, to set up its second straight playoffs clash with another six-time champion, Panathinaikos Athens. Behind the virtuosity of Milos Teodosic and great team defense, CSKA dominated the series opener, 94-66. Two days later Sonny Weems and Andrei Kirilenko combined for half of the team's 14 triples in another runaway win, 100-80. Panathinaikos claimed Game 3 by a single point despite another big performance from Weems, but the visitors rebounded in Game 4 with Kirilenko on fire and its defense taking no prisoners for a 55-74 road win that secured CSKA's place in Madrid.

By the time the playoffs finished, CSKA's average of 87.8 points this season was the most for any team in the past 10 years. CSKA also led the Euroleague in performance index rating, with the second-highest average in competition history, and in three-point shooting. It is on pace to pull the most defensive rebounds ever and it finished second in average assists, which is also second in the history of the competition. With its defense on the rise and an offense led by two former Euroleague MVPs, Teodosic and Kirilenko, CSKA returns to scene of its last Euroleague titled with only one goal in mind: adding a seventh Euroleague crown to its trophy case.

SIGNPOSTS OF THE SEASON

REGULAR SEASON ROUND 2: SENDING A MESSAGE

CSKA Moscow showed its power by downing champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 99-80 at home. Sonny Weems had 18 points and Milos Teodosic added 11 assists to lead a balanced offense.

TOP 16 ROUND 4: DE COL-OH!

In an unprecedented perfect shooting night, Nando De Colo had 28 points with no missed shots to lead CSKA past Unicaja Malaga 101-74. Milos Teodosic dished 14 assists, a new Top 16 record.

TOP 16 ROUND 13: CSKA GETS EVEN BETTER

CSKA grabbed a good-as-gold home win and became the front-runner in its Top 16 group by downing Olympiacos Piraeus 76-70. Andrei Kirilenko started to re-emerge with 10 points and 9 rebounds.

PLAYOFFS GAME 2: CSKA TAKES OFF

Sonny Weems had 20 points while Kirilenko and De Colo each added 16 to lead CSKA over Panathinaikos Athens 100-80. CSKA defended its home-court advantage and took a 2-0 lead in thee playoffs series.

PLAYOFFS GAME 4: ANOTHER FINAL FOUR

CSKA made it to the Final Four for the 12th time in 13 years by downing Panathinaikos 55-74 and winning their playoffs series 3-1. De Colo led the way with 18 points and Kirilenko added 13 and 10 rebounds.