2019-20 Games to Watch: Khimki Moscow Region

Aug 19, 2019 by Euroleague.net Print
2019-20 Games to Watch: Khimki Moscow Region

In the last seasons Khimki Moscow Region has become a mainstay in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and this season it will repeat an appearance at the top European competition. With superstar Alexey Shved healthy from the beginning and a slate of new signings, Khimki will aim to repeat its 2017-18 playoffs appearance.

Round 1: Season starts at home against Maccabi

The start of the season proved to be very important for Khimki the past two seasons, especially regarding games on its home floor. Two seasons ago, Khimki got the season going by playing the host in the first three games and won them all. Khimki opened the season with a 5-1 record, and went on to make the playoffs. Last season, Khimki started with four losses, two of them at home. Khimki lost three of the first four games in front of its fans, and opened the season with a 1-6 record and never recovered. So, starting the season at home on the right foot against Maccabi will be very important for Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis side.

Round 8: Payback time against Milan

Khimki did not have a good EuroLeague campaign last season, but two losses that might hurt more than the others were against AX Armani Exchange Milan. First, Milan edged Khimki 81-80 in Round 4 on Mike James's free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining, which dropped Khimki to 0-4. Then, in Round 20, with Khimki still just a couple of wins out of the playoff places, Milan rallied from a 65-51 third-quarter deficit to pull out a 88-90 road win. Call it a revenge game if you like, but Khimki will surely be motivated to get back to an ambitious Milan side.

Round 22: Moscow derby against the champs

Unfortunately for Khimki, the Moscow rivalry has been pretty one-sided. CSKA has won eight of their last nine head-to-head games in the EuroLeague, and CSKA also swept Khimki in the VTB best-of-five playoffs series in four of the last five seasons. All of this just makes the Leningradka Derby even more special for Khimki, and the Round 22 clash will be no different. Khimki’s longest tenured players Alexey Shved, Sergey Monia and Egor Vialtsev – all former CSKA players – would love to take down the city rivals and the reigning EuroLeague champions. A potential win could go a long way for Khimki’s self-confidence.

Round 23: Hopeful return to Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a place of one of the best EuroLeague wins for Khimki. Two seasons ago, with both teams in a tight playoffs race, Khimki went into Menora Mivtachim Arena and pulled out an impressive 91-94 victory over Maccabi. Alexey Shved had 22 points and a career-high 12 assists in that game, Anthony Gill scored his career-best 24 points, and Malcolm Thomas contributed with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Shved and Gill both missed a trip to Tel Aviv with injuries last season, but in this upcoming season Khimki and its stars would love to replicate that clash from March of 2018. Every road win is very valuable in the EuroLeague, especially for a team that won only three times away from home last season.

Round 27: Kurtinaitis returns to Kaunas

Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis is a Lithuanian and a Kaunas legend, a man who was one of the main players that led Zalgiris to the 1986 EuroLeague title game, and win three consecutive Soviet titles from 1985 to 1987. He has also been a long-time coach of Zalgiris rival Rytas Vilnius, so his arrival will certainly make for a little extra reason to have a great atmosphere at Zalgirio Arena. Khimki has won three of four EuroLeague games in Kaunas, including an 83-84 decision in November of last year. Alexey Shved led Zalgiris with 25 points, 10 assists and a career-high 4 steals in that game, but broke his pinky finger which has sidelined him for a large portion of the season.