Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season hits its halfway point with Round 15, which opens with a doozy when reigning champion Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul plays the team with the best record from one season ago, Real Madrid. Coach Georgios Bartzokas and his Khimki Moscow Region side take on his former club, FC Barcelona Lassa. On Friday, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz hosts CSKA Moscow for the first time since they met in last season’s playoffs, which CSKA won in a 3-0 sweep.
Khimki Moscow vs Barcelona
Friday tips off with an opportunity for Barcelona (4-10) to end a five-game losing streak and claim its first road win of the season against a Khimki (8-6) team that is determined to protect its position in the top half of the standings. Barcelona’s baffling inability to convert statistical excellence into victories is reflected in the fact it has outperformed Khimki in scoring (80.9 points per game against 78.2), rebounding (35.6 per game versus 32.8), assists (20.5 per game compared to 17.8), and claimed very similar numbers on defense, but still won four fewer games.
Anadolu Efes vs Brose Bamberg
Efes (3-11) will look for a first win under Coach Ergin Ataman against a Brose team (6-8) eager to get back on track and towards the top half of the standings after two straight defeats. Brose has not won on the road since Round 5, while Efes has lost four straight. The German champion has claimed fewer rebounds than any other team (30.0 rpg.), so the ability of Bryant Dunston and Vladimir Stimac to dominate the paint could be crucial for Efes, which could enhance its chances of winning by improving its long-range shooting accuracy; it is ranked 15th in three-point conversion rate (31.7%).
Baskonia vs CSKA Moscow
CSKA (11-3) will attempt to maintain its place atop of the standings with a tough trip to face a Baskonia team (7-7) that has gone 7-3 since the arrival of Coach Pedro Martinez. It promises to be an exciting shootout, with CSKA leading the league in scoring (88.3 pppg.) and Baskonia not far behind (81.3 ppg.). Indeed, these are the two most accurate two-point shooting teams in the competition, with Baskonia’s conversion rate of 55.7% only bettered by CSKA’s 56.2%. And the home team’s ball-sharing mentality is reflected in its average of 20.1 assists per game, second best in the league.
AX Milan vs Crvena Zvezda
Two teams aiming to reverse recent fortunes meet in the fashion capital, with Milan (4-10) having lost five of its last six, while Zvezda (5-9) dropped both games last week. Despite its record, Milan has been extremely competitive this season, with its last eight games all being decided by single-digit margins. And with leading scorer Andrew Goudelock coming back to full speed after injury, Zvezda will have to significantly improve its recent offensive output after scoring just 56 and 63 points in last week’s losses. Zvezda also needs to give better protection to its basket; it ranks last in the league in defensive rebounds (19.4 per game).
Euroleague Basketball Tips
Fenerbahce vs Real Madrid
A rematch of last season’s semifinal provides a festive treat as Madrid (8-6) looks for its fourth consecutive victory with a trip to reigning champ Fenerbahce (9-5). Madrid has well and truly recovered from its November slump by toughening up on defense and allowing just 75, 72 and 66 points in its last three wins. But that resistance will be tested by a Fenerbahce offense that ranks among the most efficient in the league, ranking third in true shooting percentage (51.2%). Madrid is no slouch either, Los Blancos rank second in the league in performance index rating (98.9 per game).
Zalgiris vs Olympiacos
Red-hot Zalgiris (9-5) will aim to keep the good times rolling by claiming a fifth consecutive victory and potentially climbing as high as third in the standings by overcoming defensive misers Olympiacos (11-3), which has allowed fewer points than any other team (70.8 per game). Olympiacos overcame the absence of four injured big men – Nikola Milutinov, Georgios Printezis, Dimitrios Agravanis and Kim Tillie – to win twice last week, but will have to make sure to guard the perimeter against a Zalgiris team that boasts the best three-point conversion rate in the competition (42.4%).
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Unicaja Malaga
The recent renaissance enjoyed by Unicaja (6-8) faces a stern test with a trip to face a Maccabi (8-6) team that has won three straight at home, culminating in last week’s convincing victory over Fenerbahce. These are two of the worst free throw shooting teams in the competition, with Unicaja ranked 14th (68.5%) and Maccabi 15th (67.6%), and the visiting team could use that to its advantage by showing aggressive resistance inside against a Maccabi team that loves to attack the paint – the Tel Aviv side has made far fewer three-pointers (5.8 per game) than any other team.
Valencia vs Panathinaikos
Valencia (3-11) will aim to climb off the foot of the standings by ending a 10-game losing streak with the visit of confident Panathinaikos (10-4), which has won eight of its last nine to claim sole ownership of third place. Despite the drastic disparity in results, there is little to choose between the teams in nearly every statistical category, but Panathinaikos will surely look to use its excellent defense – which has allowed just 72, 76 and 63 points in its last three games – to prevent Valencia developing some much-needed confidence.
Basketball Tips: livetipster.com