On this day two years ago, CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid won their respective Game 4s in the playoffs to take the best-of-five series 3-1 and advance to the Final Four in Belgrade. For CSKA it was its 15th Final Four in 16 years, while Real Madrid was back to the final tournament again, ready to face the Muscovites in the semifinals.
CSKA survives Russian duel
In its playoff series, CSKA had to face crosstown rival Khimki Moscow Region. The Red Army team managed to win both home games by slim margins: 98-95 in Game 1 and 89-84 in Game 2. For Game 3, Khimki was the host and thanks to stellar defense and great nights by Alexey Shved (27 points) and Anthony Gill (22), Khimki scored a 79-73 win that sent the series to Game 4. That game was also as close as they come and CSKA would end up winning 88-89 thanks to a bucket by Cory Higgins with 5 seconds to go. Higgins led the winners with 20 points.
Real survives Game 1 meltdown
In their playoff series, Real faced Panathinaikos Athens with the home-court advantage for the Greens. In Game 1, Panathinaikos started with a 20-0 run that broke the game open and sowed doubts for Los Blancos, which lost 95-67. In Game 2, Real came back and managed an 82-89 victory in Greece that sent the series to Madrid all squared. Game 3 in Spain was marked by the comeback of Sergio Llull, the star of the team and the previous season's MVP, who had been sidelined all season due to an ACL injury. Llull was the spark that the team needed to take Game 3, 81-74, and subsequently, Game 4 89-82 to roll into the Final Four. Young Luka Doncic, in one of the most impressive seasons ever by a single player, led the effort with 17 points.
What happened next
In the Final Four in Belgrade, CSKA and Real would meet in semifinals for another chapter in one of the historic rivalries in European basketball. In the game, Los Blancos won 83-92 with 16 points apiece by Doncic and Llull. In the championship game, Real defeated Fenerbahce Istanbul and became the first team ever to win 10 EuroLeague titles. Young Doncic was named MVP of the Final Four, capping a hard-to-match season in which he also took season EuroLeague MVP and Rising Star honors.