Two teams with nine EuroLeague crowns between them meet in a classic showdown. Panathinaikos is undefeated at home and Milan looks for its first road win. DeShaun Thomas (20 ppg., 8.5 rpg.), Nick Calathes (17.5 ppg., 7.5 apg.) and Jimmer Fredette (14.5 ppg.) have been Panathinaikos's leaders until now. Sergio Rodriguez (15.5 ppg.) is Milan's top scorer until now, followed by Luis Scola (14.0) and Vladimir Micov (13.0).
Two very different power forwards are set to go against each other. Thomas is a dynamic, quick forward who likes to drive to the basket, run the floor and pull the trigger from downtown. On the other hand, Scola is an old-school, back-to-the-basket big man with smooth post skills and a deadly jumper, even from beyond the arc. Both players have been doing really well so far, which makes this matchup even more intriguing.
This is the 19th meeting all-time between these teams. Panathinaikos leads the series 13-5 after having won five of their last six showdowns. Milan's last win against Panathinaikos, however, came last season. Milan downed Panathinaikos 83-86 in Athens on December 21, 2018. Arturas Gudaitis, who is currently injured, led the winners with 20 points and 8 rebounds.
Panathinaikos is shooting really well inside the arc this season, ranking second overall at 59.0%, while Milan is quite far behind (49.4%). The Greens, however, have struggled from the free throw line until now, hitting just 61.8% of their attempts to Milan's 76.6%. Neither of the teams is taking great care of the ball, and that would be a big key: Panathinaikos averages 15.0 turnovers and Milan 13.5.
Keys to victory: Panathinaikos
Stopping Rodriguez will be critical for the Greens. With Shelvin Mack and Nemanja Nedovic sidelined, Milan runs its offense through him. Calathes and Tyrese Rice must be ready to play hard on defense against Rodriguez and Michael Roll. Thomas needs more help around the baskets, and players like Ian Vougioukas and Georgios Papagiannis will be called on provide it. Getting Fredette involved and finding good shots for him guarantees instant offense, too.
Keys to victory: Milan
It all starts with defensive rebounds for Milan, so Kaleb Tarczewski, Jeff Brooks and Paul Biligha will be ready to power the glass and send Rodriguez into transition. Milan will opt often for a half-court offense in which Scola and Micov play big roles. If Milan is able to control the game pace and only run the floor when it has a clear advantage, it will compete pretty well in a tough court like OAKA.