Two teams that reached the 2019 Final Four go head to head in the early stage of the new season as Efes hosts Real at Sinan Erdem Dome. Both teams hold 2-1 record going into this clash, but with Efes having a good momentum having won its last two games, while Real suffered a road loss against Zalgiris last week.
Real has beaten Efes in their last seven meetings, and 10 of the last 11 clashes. Efes has defeated Real three times in Istanbul during Pablo Laso's reign on Real's bench. Each time it was by three or fewer points, and each time in a low scoring affair where Efes held Real once to 73 points and twice to 72 points.
Keep an eye on playing time
Coach Pablo Laso has been staying true to his philosophy of rotating players. Anthony Randolph leads all Real players in minutes played (27:19 minutes), only one more player (Jeffrey Taylor) plays more than 25 minutes per game, and as many as 10 different players average at least 11 minutes on the floor. Meanwhile, Coach Ergin Ataman has Vaislije Micic leading all players in minutes played (34:28), and Bryant Dunston ranks third (33:15). Two more players – Shane Larkin and Alec Peters – have been playing more than 29 minutes per game, and last week Krunoslav Simon joined the club, playing 34:05 in a win over Valencia.
Starting point guards Vasilije Micic and Facundo Campazzo have been under the spotlight, since the finish of the last season, throughout the summer, and early in this new season again. Micic has been fueling Efes so far with his average of 10.0 assists per game, by far the best in the league, but has delivered in spurts. Meanwhile, Campazzo has been steady, but not stellar, posting 11.0 points and 4.7 assists. Their respective teams will have a hard time winning this clash unless these two guys will be on top of their games.
Keys to victory: Efes
Efes offense is yet to click the way it has worked the entire last season. The biggest difference has been Efes making 9.0 triples per game on just 31.4% three-point accuracy. James Anderson, Chris Singleton, Krunoslav Simon, and Micic are a combined 10-for-44 from long range, a mere 22.7%. Despite those struggles, Efes still has two fins this season, but a likely improvement in the three-point shooting will be needed from these players against Real.
Keys to victory: Real
Real has been the best defensive rebounding team last season, but not as much in the first three rounds this campaign. The team is pulling down 21.0 per game, which ranks 15th this season and is 6 fewer rebounds than what Real averaged last season. Meanwhile, the team is allowing opponents to grab slightly more offensive rebounds than a year ago. It has helped the opposition put up 82.7 points per game so far against Los Blancos this season. Real will need to find more stops on defense against Efes if it wants to register its first road win of this season.