The 2014-15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs began with wins for the favored, home teams. While Real Madrid and Fenerbahce Ulker saw off stern challenges from the likes of Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, respectively, CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona rolled to more comfortable wins. All four series feature shot turnarounds with Game 2 tipping off just 48 hours after Game 1.
Playoff A: Real Madrid 1-0 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Behind two huge performances from players that are normally part of its supporting cast, Real Madrid rallied past Anadolu Efes Istanbul 80-71 in the opening game of their best-of-five playoffs series. K.C. Rivers led the way with a career-high 21 points on 6-of-7 three-point shooting and Gustavo Ayon posted his first career double-double for Madrid, which rallied from an 11-point second-quarter deficit. The hosts used a dominant third quarter in which it outscored Efes 26-10. Madrid won its ninth straight Euroleague home game in improving to 20-5 for the season. Ayon finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals. Efes point guard Thomas Heurtel dished 11 assists, but also tied a Euroleague playoffs record with 8 turnovers. He shares that distinction with Rimas Kaukenas, who committed 8 turnovers with Montepaschi Siena against Panathinaikos in 2009.
Playoff B: Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 1-0 Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
After trailing for the first 29 minutes, Fenerbahce Ulker rallied to beat reigning champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 80-72 at Ulker Sports Arena for the club’s first-ever Euroleague playoff victory. The Turkish champs will look to keep up the momentum when they host Game 2 of the best-of-five playoffs series on Thursday. The game featured a 20-point swing in 11 minutes between the third and fourth quarters. Alex Tyus put Maccabi up 46-56 with four minutes to go in the third quarter. Luka Zoric scored 6 straight points to trigger an 11-0 run and Andrew Goudelock gave Fenerbahce its first lead, 59-58, late in the quarter. Kenan Sipahi opened the fourth quarter with a three as Fener started to pull away. Jeremy Pargo had Maccabi within 5 with five minutes remaining, but Jan Vesely scored 8 points in the final four minutes – 6 of which came on put-back layups or dunks – to pave the hosts’ way to the win. Vesely finished with a career-high 23 points, while Nemanja Bjelica added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the winners. Pargo scored 19 first-quarter points and finished with 25, which was 1 short of Maccabi’s record in the playoffs, which he already shares with two other players.
Playoff C: CSKA Moscow 1-0 Panathinaikos Athens
CSKA Moscow led from tip to buzzer in routing Panathinaikos Athens 93-66 in the opening game of the playoffs series. Milos Teodosic starred with 18 points and 8 assists in less than 20 minutes for the winners. The victory gives CSKA a 16-15 lead over Panathinaikos in the all-time record between them. The victory was CSKA’s seventh straight and took its record this season to 21-2. Teodosic scored 10 points in the first quarter as CSKA took control, 29-21. The hosts’ defense did the job in the second quarter, holding Panathinaikos to just 6 points in building a 56-27 cushion. The lead was CSKA’s largest ever at halftime in a playoff game. When James Gist dunked twice in a 0-8 Panathinaikos third-quarter run, Teodosic came off the bench to score 8 points in one minute and spark a 12-0 run as the hosts cruised the rest of the way. All 12 CSKA players scored. Nikos Pappas paced the Greens with 16 points.
Playoff D: FC Barcelona 1-0 Olympiacos Piraeus
On the strength of a balanced attack, FC Barcelona defeated Olympiacos Piraeus 73-57 at home on Wednesday. The win was Barcelona’s ninth in a row in the Euroleague. It also marked the eighth straight home win for Barcelona against Olympiacos. Juan Carlos Navarro and Bostjan Nachbar each scored 10 to lead Barcelona attack. Maciej Lampe posted 8 points and 9 rebounds as the hosts dominated the boards 44-27. Dimitris Agravanis led all Olympiacos scorers with 9 points. Olympiacos had a strong start and a jumper by Georgios Printezis gave the Reds a 3-6 lead. Barcelona improved its defense, as Tomas Satoransky and Lampe fueled a 19-2 run highlighted by Marcelinho Huertas's incredible three-pointer at the end of the first quarter. A triple by Nachbar made it a 15-point game early in the second quarter. Brent Petway and Kostas Sloukas stepped up for Olympiacos and a dunk by Matt Lojeski brought his team within 35-26 at halftime. Navarro took over after the break, as Barcelona kept excelling on defense. A pair of Nachbar threes sealed the outcome at 61-42 long before the final buzzer.
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