Real, UNICS meet in the Spanish capital
In a battle in the upper part of the standings, Real Madrid (16-3) hosts UNICS Kazan (12-7) in a postponed game from Round 19. Real is on a five-game winning streak, led by Walter Tavares (12.2 ppg., 7.3 rpg., 1.9 bpg.), Guerschon Yabusele (12.6 ppg.) and Vincent Poirier (7.8 ppg., 6.2 rpg.). UNICS has won five of its last six games and comes off a 70-64 home victory against FC Barcelona. Isaiah Canaan (14.1 ppg.) has been its top scorer until now, followed by Lorenzo Brown (13.6 ppg.) and John Brown III (10.7 ppg.). Earlier this season, UNICS beat Real 65-58 in Kazan in Round 7 with 13 points each from Mario Hezonja and Andrey Vorontsevich.
Marquee matchup: Real's Yabusele vs. UNICS's Brown
Two very different big men are set to face each other when Real Madrid faces UNICS Kazan in Round 19. Due to Tonye Jekiri's absence, John Brown III played at the '5' position last week, opening the floor with his mid-range shots and of course, adding his sixth sense to read passing lines. Brown is the EuroLeague's steals leader (2.9 spg.) and collected 7 against FC Barcelona in Round 22. He should need all that against Guerschon Yabusele, a physical player with a great basketball IQ. Yabusele is averaging 12.6 points on solid shooting percentages (61.3% 2FG, 36.5% 3FG, 84.8% FT), 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He will need his size and post skills against one of the best defenders in the competition.
Keys to victory: Real vs. UNICS
Real Madrid leads the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in defensive rebounds (25.9 drpg.) and needs to keep boxing out well against a physical, aggressive team like UNICS Kazan. Real excels in all hustle stats, ranking first in blocks (3.3 bpg.), third in steals (7.2 spg.) and fifth in offensive boards (11.0 orpg.). Playing with high intensity should be mandatory to match UNICS's efforts, and well as finding Vincent Poirier and, if available, Walter Tavares down low for easier points in the paint.
Speaking of steals, UNICS not only leads the competition but has the best average (9.5 spg.) in the EuroLeague over the last seven years. Even though steals generally generate easy shots in transition, UNICS ranks last in fouls drawn (16.1 per game) and 14th in free throws attempted (14.4 per night). If UNICS can be as aggressive on offense as it is on defense, it should get to the foul line more often. If Lorenzo Brown and Marco Spissu dominate the game tempo, UNICS should have a better chance to win in the Spanish capital.