Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
Round 17 sees some of the league leaders in their respective categories clash. In the opener, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens and the league-leader in assists, Nick Calathes, visit FC Barcelona Lassa and the No. 2 assist man, Thomas Heurtel. And on Friday, the top two scorers in the league meet when Khimki Moscow Region and Alexey Shved host Real Madrid and Luka Doncic. In between, Ricky Hickman, who helped Maccabi win the 2014 EuroLeague championship, visits Tel Aviv with Brose Bamberg.
Khimki Moscow vs Real Madrid
After a morale-boosting road win last week, Khimki (9-7) will look to solidify its position in the top half of the standings against a Madrid team (10-6) flying high on a five-game winning streak. A home win would also give Khimki a head to head advantage over Los Blancos after triumphing in Madrid earlier in the season. Although the matchup between the competition’s two leading scorers Alexey Shved (21.8 ppg.) and Luka Doncic (18.1 ppg.) will attract plenty of attention, the inside battle will also be well worth watching as last week’s MVP Malcolm Thomas goes up against Madrid duo Walter Tavares and in-form veteran Felipe Reyes.
Anadolu Efes vs Crvena Zvezda
In-form Zvezda (7-9) will attempt to continue its charge towards the playoff zone by gaining a sixth win in eight games with a trip to rock-bottom Efes (4-12). But Efes has been a tough customer at home in recent weeks, winning two of its last four games in Istanbul and losing the other two by just 3 and 1. The teams are very closely matched in many statistical categories, but Efes has the clear edge in rebounding with an average of 36.1 boards per game compared to Zvezda’s 32.9, and one key could be the inside battle between two players going up against their former clubs: Efes’s Vladimir Stimac and Zvezda’s Milko Bjelica.
Zalgiris vs Unicaja Malaga
Two previously red-hot teams will look to kickstart new winning runs as Zalgiris (10-6) hunts down a win to re-establish a top four position against a Unicaja team (7-9) on the fringes of the playoff zone. After making just 5-of-18 three-point shots in last week’s loss in Belgrade, Zalgiris will look to recover its usual long-range shooting accuracy (41.8% for the season), while Unicaja’s offense has bounced back from a slow start to the season to average 85.2 points in its last six games. Zalgiris has committed more fouls than any other team (23.9 per game), so Unicaja can expect plenty of chances to improve its free-throw conversion rate of 69.4%, which is third-worst in the league.
Baskonia vs Olympiacos
After suffering consecutive losses against two of last season’s Final Four teams, Baskonia (7-9) will look to reignite its campaign by taking on another, co-leader Olympiacos (12-4). The Reds have won the last six consecutive encounters against the Basque club, and is returning to full health with Georgios Printezis and Nikola Milutinov both coming back from injury last week. Baskonia was held to just 74 points in last week’s loss to Fenerbahce, its lowest total since Round 4, and faces another stern test on Friday against an Olympiacos team that again boasts the best defense in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, allowing just 71.6 points per game.
Euroleague Basketball Tips
Panathinaikos vs Barcelona
Rejuvenated Barcelona (6-10) will look to take another step towards the playoffs zone by making it three straight wins with a tough trip to face third-placed Panathinaikos (11-5) and its former coach Xavi Pascual. The Greens have been boosted by the return of playmaker Nick Calathes from injury, and this contest will pit him against Thomas Heurtel in a battle between the league’s top two assisters. Panathinaikos has not lost a regular season game at home since November 2016, winning 19 straight since then, and the main task for Barcelona will be overcoming a defense that has allowed the league’s third-lowest number of points (75.7 per game).
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Brose Bamberg
Two teams needing a reversal in fortunes meet in Tel Aviv, with Maccabi (8-8) in danger of dropping out of the playoff places after a run of four losses in five games, while Brose (6-10) has suffered four straight defeats. Maccabi has developed an unwanted habit of starting games well but finishing badly, squandering sizeable early leads in recent losses to Unicaja and Real Madrid, while Brose desperately needs to spark an offense that has averaged just 69.5 points during its current losing run. Maccabi’s Pierre Jackson has averaged 19 points in the last four outings, so stopping him will be another key for Brose.
AX Olimpia Milan vs CSKA Moscow
Co-leader CSKA (12-4) will look to make an immediate return to its winning ways with a trip to face Milan (4-12), which is eager to snap a three-game losing streak and climb away from the foot of the standings. Mindaugas Kuzminskas will make his home debut for a Milan team that needs to find a way of restricting CSKA’s offense, which was held to just 72 points – its second-lowest tally of the season – in last week’s loss at Barcelona. Milan possesses plenty of firepower of its own, with Andrew Goudelock getting back to full speed following an injury lay-off, scoring at least 15 points in three of his last four games.
Valencia vs Fenerbahce
Newly confident Valencia (5-11) will seek a third straight win with the visit of injury-plagued Fenerbahce (10-6), which knows every victory is vital in the race to secure home-court advantage. Valencia has shown plenty of character in its last two wins, holding off Panathinaikos before edging out Unicaja by overturning a 17-point deficit, and will need to be patient against a Fenerbahce team that has allowed the second-fewest points in the competition (72.1 per game). Valencia has one of the league’s best three-point shooting percentages (39.3%), but will be tested by a Fenerbahce defense that has held opponents to just 33.3% of long-range conversions.
Basketball Tips: livetipster.com