Zenit will seek its second straight win at home when it hosts red-hot, yet short-handed Maccabi. Zenit lost in Munich last week, but bested LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne in its last home game and will look to give its fans another thrill. Maccabi stunned CSKA Moscow last week despite missing three starters and could be without them again this week; Nate Wolters and Omri Casspi are certainly sidelined and Tarik Black’s participation remains in doubt. Zenit swingman Mateusz also sat out last week with a concussion.
With so many key players – not to mention two key ball-handlers – out, Scottie Wilbekin has become the most important player for Maccabi. He leads the team in scoring (16.8 ppg.), assists (3.2 apg.) and steals. Zenit will likely charge Alex Renfroe (7.2 ppg., 4.9 apg., 1.0 spg.) with the task of slowing down Wilbekin. Renfroe has been hot recently with totals of 34 points and 10 assists over his last two games. If he can hamper Wilbekin, it would be a big plus for the home team.
Zenit's Gustavo Ayon, a two-time All-EuroLeague selection, is in second place for the most steals among centers in EuroLeague history with 179. Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv manager Nikola Vujcic, a five-time All-EuroLeague choice, is the all-time leader among centers with 181 steals. Will Ayon take advantage of this opportunity to become the record holder for centers at the expense of the Maccabi great with him watching?
Keys to victory: Zenit
Maccabi has been the better rebounding team this season (36.6 rpg.), but if Tarik Black cannot play Zenit will have a significant size advantage in the paint – especially when Othello Hunter gets a breather. Zenit leads the league in offensive rebounds (12.0 orpg.) and if it crashed the boards aggressively on Tuesday and can convert missed shots into second-chance points at a high rate, it will be in a promising position.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
With as many as four key rotation players sidelines, the key for Maccabi relies in Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos getting maximum production from his reserves. Yovel Zoosman and Quincy Acy have become fixtures in the starting lineup and Tyler Dorsey, Elijah Bryant and Angelo Caloiaro are being asked to do more than before. Maccabi has been firing on all cylinders at both ends, but there is less margin for error now than ever before.