Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
The second half of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season gets up and running this week with a series of tantalizing showdowns in Round 16. Highlights include the league leader facing a testing road trip, the reigning champ attempting to emerge from a slump and an all-Spanish showdown between two fast-improving outfits.
Fenerbahce vs Baskonia
Having lost its place in the all-important top four with a run of three losses in four games, reigning champ Fenerbahce (9-6) will attempt to reignite its season against dangerous visiting Baskonia (7-8). Faltering defense has been Fenerbahce’s downfall, allowing an average of 83.7 points in its three recent losses compared to a season-long average of just 72 – which is second best in the competition. And that defense will be sorely tested by a Baskonia offense that ranks among the league’s most explosive, scoring at least 81 points in 10 of its last 11 games. But the only team to stop Baskonia from reaching that figure was Fenerbahce in a comprehensive Round 10 road win.
Crvena Zvezda vs Zalgiris
Red-hot Zalgiris Kaunas (10-5) will look to continue its remarkable season by gaining a sixth consecutive win with a trip to face Zvezda (6-9), which got itself back into the fringes of the playoff zone with a hard-earned road win at Milan last week. A key battle will feature two of the league’s most impressive veterans, with newly crowned December MVP Paulius Jankunas facing a direct match-up against Zvezda big man Milko Bjelica, whose index rating of 28 in Milan was the best of his 180-game EuroLeague career. Also keep an eye on the long-range shooting duel: Zvezda has attempted the league’s second-highest number of three-pointers (25.9 per game) while Zalgiris boasts the second-best conversion rate (42.8%).
Brose Bamberg vs Khimki Moscow
Both teams need to boost their playoff hopes by overcoming a poor run of form, with Brose (6-9) losing five of its last six, while Khimki (8-7) has dropped three out of four and only won one of its last five road trips. A lack of offensive production has been the recent worry for Coach Andrea Trinchieri’s team, with Brose only scoring 66 and 58 points in its last two losses. Khimki was bullied on the boards by Barcelona last week, only claiming 20 rebounds, and will look to rectify that statistic against a Brose team that has averaged by far the lowest number of rebounds in the competition (30.5 per game).
Olympiacos vs AX Olimpia Milan
After losing top spot with last week’s loss against Zalgiris, Olympiacos (11-4) will attempt to start another winning run with the visit of a Milan (4-11) side that must feel due a change in luck after its last six losses all came by a margin of 8 points or less. One of those was an 85-86 home loss to Olympiacos, which will attempt to slow down Milan’s dangerous scorers by leaning upon the best defense in the competition, allowing just 71 points per game. With Olympiacos missing several big bodies through injury, Milan will hope excellent rebounders Kaleb Tarczewski (6.7 boards per game) and Arturas Gudaitis (5.9 rpg.) can establish inside dominance.
Real Madrid vs Maccabi Tel Aviv
After recovering its place in the top half of the standings with an impressive four-game winning streak, Real Madrid (9-6) will attempt to deprive Maccabi (8-7) of that status in the Spanish capital. Finding a way to stop the league’s top-rated performer, Luka Doncic, will clearly be a major challenge for Maccabi, but rejuvenated veteran Felipe Reyes is also in outstanding form with double-digit scoring in his last four games. Maccabi has been hit or miss this season and has lost three of its last four. Defense has been the team’s downfall; it allowed 101, 89 and 89 points in those recent losses.
Euroleague Basketball Tips
Panathinaikos vs Anadolu Efes
Panathinaikos (10-5) will look to return to winning ways against an Efes (4-11) team aiming to underline its recent improvement with a second straight victory. Efes’s cause has been aided by the return of key forward Derrick Brown after a lengthy injury absence and they travel to Greece with a clear advantage in rebounding after claiming 36.0 boards per game, fourth best in the competition, while Panathinaikos has grabbed just 32.7. However, the Greens can claim significantly better shooting accuracy, converting 53.3% of two-pointers and 40.2% of three-pointers compared to Efes’s respective tallies of 49.3% and 32.4%.
Unicaja Malaga vs Valencia
An all-Spanish duel features two teams with regained confidence as Unicaja (7-8) looks for a fifth consecutive win with the visit of Valencia (4-11), which ended a 10-game losing sequence by downing high-flying Panathinaikos last week. Unicaja has a clear advantage in rebounding, averaging 36.1 boards per game compared to just 30.9 for Valencia. But Valencia will look to profit from long-range, boasting a significantly better three-point shooting game than the home team, converting 38.9% of downtown strikes against Unicaja’s 35.1%. The visiting team will again rely heavily on Erick Green, whose average of 16.6 points per game accounts for 22% of his team’s total.
Barcelona vs CSKA Moscow
After reigniting its season with a convincing victory last week against one Moscow team, Barcelona (5-10) will now look to defeat the other as league-leading CSKA (12-3) heads to Palau Blaugrana. Barcelona Coach Sito Alonso has switched up his options recently, giving more prominent roles to previously fringe veterans Juan Carlos Navarro, Ante Tomic, Victor Claver and Pau Ribas, and they’ll be aiming to repeat the team ethic which recorded a remarkable 32 assists – by far the season’s highest from any team – in the win at Khimki. But CSKA leads the league in both two-point (55.9%) and three-point (43.0%) shooting accuracy, so defense will be a key for the home team.
Basketball Tips: livetipster.com