It is the most repeated game in European basketball history; Maccabi and Real face each other for the 60th time. Maccabi is undefeated at home this season and won eight of its last 11 games. After a 13-game winning streak, Real has lost its last three games and wants to return to winning ways. Scottie Wilbekin (16.3 ppg.), Othello Hunter (10.2 ppg., 6.5 rpg.) and Tyler Dorsey (9.5 ppg.) are leading Maccabi, which is expected to feature new signing Amar'e Stoudemire for the first time. Trey Thompkins (10.7 ppg.), Facu Campazzo (10.5 ppg.) and Jordan Mickey (9.9 ppg.) are Real's active top scorers.
Maccabi will try to find a way to slow Edy Tavares, who uses his size, coordination, timing and big hands to change games on defense. Tavares is also a good pick-and-roll player who finishes really well around the rim. Othello Hunter is in great shape, rebounding well at both ends, and recently-signed big man Amar'e Stoudemire is expected to add toughness and experience to Maccabi's frontcourt. Slowing Tavares and Mickey down low will be mandatory in his first-ever EuroLeague game.
Real is 36-23 against Maccabi and has managed to beat the Israeli powerhouse in their last four showdowns. Earlier this season, Real edged Maccabi 86-85 behind 16 points and 11 rebounds from Jordan Mickey. A three-pointer by Jaycee Carroll with 2.4 seconds left allowed Real to win the game. The teams faced each other in the EuroLeague Championship Game in 1980 and 2014. Real beat Maccabi 89-85 in 1980. Maccabi needed overtime to top Los Blancos 98-86 in 2014.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
Maccabi leads the league in defensive rebounding (26) which allows the team to run or play at the right pace. Maccabi is shooting the ball from downtown better on the road (38.6%) than at home (37.4%), and it will be important to raise that number, as Real relies on Edy Tavares to change a lot of shots down low. On defense, Maccabi has to put a lot of pressure on the ball to prevent Facundo Campazzo from creating for others. The sea of yellow fans in the stands will be Maccabi's X-factor.
Keys to victory: Real
Real is struggling to score on the road (78.0 ppg.), with more than 10 points per game fewer than its home average (89.3 ppg.). Real keeps opponents to hit just 48.8% two-point shooting and only Maccabi (46.0%) does better at that. Not being intimidated by Maccabi's physicality will be one of the keys to the game. Real has done a good job at cutting turnovers, averaging just 12.3 per game and ranking third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55). Maccabi forces a lot of turnovers (1.4 3per game), so staying focused will be a key for Los Blancos.