Coming off its first-ever EuroLeague victory, Zenit now returns to its home floor where it welcomes Panathinaikos in Round 4 opener for the first time. While Zenit bounced back last week from losses in opening two rounds, Panathinaikos arrives in St Petersburg after back-to-back one-point losses.
Roads to 1-2
Panathinaikos holds 1-2 record after three games but could have easily been undefeated. In each of those two losses, on the road at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne in Round 2 and home against AX Armani Exchange Milan in Round 3, the Greens held a fourth-quarter lead only to let it slip away. In each of those two games Panathinaikos also had a final possession to win the game, but did not manage to score in either game and lost them by an identical score, 79-78 Meanwhile, Zenit lost its first two games by a combined 44 points, then saw Kostas Papanikolaou hit a three-pointer to send the game in overtime in Round 3. But Zenit rose to the occasion in the extra session and went on to register a historic first EuroLeague win.
Looking for assists
Panathinaikos point guard Nick Calathes has set single-season records in assists, both per-game and total, in back-to-back seasons. One would think that having such player alone would be enough for Panathinaikos to be among league leaders in assists, but on the contrary, Panathinaikos dishes the second-fewest 13.0 per game through three rounds.
While Zenit's Will Thomas is more of a power forward and a center, while Panathinaikos DeShaun Thomas plays at both forward positions, two Thomases will see each other plenty in this clash. Will has done a good job of stretching the floor, making 5 of 10 three-pointers for the season and leading Zenit with 10.7 points per game. Meanwhile, DeShaun has been very aggressive attacking the rim, which has resulted in his averages of 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Keys to victory: Zenit
After allowing 85.0 points per game after two rounds, Zenit had a big defensive performance last week, holding Olympiacos to just 68 points despite the game going into overtime. That's especially important until Zenit finds a better offensive rhythm. The team is yet to score more than 65 points in regulation time, and it will need to get the offensive going if it wants to improve its chances to register its second EuroLeague win.
Keys to victory: Panathinaikos
The Greens have done a solid job in each of their first three games this season, but then they allowed 29 points in the fourth quarter of each of their first two games to start the season. Panathinaikos also could not hold on despite grabbing momentum and opening a 7-point lead with 6 minutes to go last week. To get back on the winning track, Panathinaikos will need to finish the games better and keep the level of play up until the final buzzer.