The lineup for the 2021 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four features the teams who played in the championship game at the last Final Four as well as two teams returning to continental basketball's brightest stage after a lengthy layoff. One semifinal at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, on May 28 will pit FC Barcelona against AX Armani Exchange Milan and the other will feature CSKA Moscow and Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
FC Barcelona vs AX Armani Exchange Milan
While Barcelona will play a semifinal game for the first time in seven years, Milan has ended a 29-year Final Four drought and seeks its fourth EuroLeague crown and first since 1988. Both teams survived grueling five-game EuroLeague Playoffs series to reach this stage. Barcelona prevailed after routing Zenit St Petersburg in Game 5 and Milan edged FC Bayern Munich in the deciding game. Milan is run by two point guards who know Barcelona well; Malcolm Delaney played for Barcelona last season and Sergio Rodriguez has been a teammate of Barcelona players Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Alex Abrines, Victor Claver and Pierre Oriola on the Spanish national team. Barcelona relied on its defense to beat Milan twice in the regular season. Mirotic and Brandon Davies combined for 40 points and 16 rebounds in an 87-71 victory in Round 13 in December. Barcelona forced 17 turnovers in winning 56-72 in Round 30 in March, which was the lowest scoring output for Milan all season. When it comes to the numbers, these two teams are among the best in the league at making three-pointers; Milan ranked second at 40.7% and Barcelona third at 40.1%. Barcelona finished the season with the best defense in the league (73.2 points allowed per game). Milan took care of the ball better than anyone else with just 10.9 turnovers per game, but also delivered the second-fewest assists (15.8 apg.).
CSKA Moscow vs Anadolu Efes Istanbul
The last Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game will be replayed in this season's semifinals between CSKA and Efes. A high-scoring affair could be imagined between these two teams, which were the top two scoring teams in the league this season. CSKA topped the charts with 84.4 points per game and Efes averaged 84.1. Remarkably, they were also among the best at taking care of the ball with Efes's 11.3 turnovers per game the second-fewest in the competition and CSKA's 12.3 ranked third-fewest. CSKA, which will play at its record 20th Final Four, was the only team to sweep its playoff series. It won all three games against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul by double-digit margins and will arrive in Cologne on a nine-game winning streak that dates back to mid-March. Efes, which will play its fourth Final Four, needed the maximum five playoff games to squeeze by Real Madrid; after dominating Los Blancos by a combined 50 points in Games 1 and 2, it blew late leads in Games 3 and 4, but held steady to win the decisive contest at home. The two teams traded lopsided wins in the regular season. CSKA routed Efes 100-65 in Round 14 in December behind 22 points from Will Clyburn. Efes returned the favor in Round 28 in March when it spanked CSKA 100-70 led by Vasilije Micic's 21 points and 8 assists. Before that game, CSKA had won 11 of its last 12 games against Efes.