Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
The first two-round week of 2018 starts with Round 18. Fans in the Serbian capital will get a chance to greet some an old friend in the Tuesday opener, in which Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade hosts Charles Jenkins and Khimki Moscow Region. There will be a playoff rematch in Istanbul, where Fenerbahce Dogus hosts Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens; Fenerbahce has won six straight home games against the Greens. And Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz will meet in the capital of Spain.
CSKA Moscow vs Anadolu Efes
Wednesday’s first game tips in the Russian capital where CSKA Moscow (13-4) looks to retain sole possession of first place with a home win against an Efes (5-12) team that hasn’t won on the road since mid-November. Efes will need all the athleticism of Derrick Brown to match up against the all-around effectiveness of Will Clyburn, who scored 20 points when CSKA recorded the most recent of its five straight wins over Efes earlier in the season. The Turkish team will be giving CSKA a new look as defensive expert Toney Douglas joins scoring threat Errick McCollom in the backcourt, but with Nando De Colo in outstanding form – scoring 23 and 24 points in his last two games – the hosts will take some stopping.
Fenerbahce vs Panathinaikos
A battle royale is in store in Istanbul as Coach Zeljko Obradovic’s Fenerbahce (11-6) looks for a victory that would displace his old team, Panathinaikos (12-5), from its current share of second place. Fit-again Panathinaikos point man Nick Calathes will attempt to continue his outstanding season by picking his way through a Fenerbahce defense that leads the league with an average of just 71.8 points conceded per game. If Jan Vesely remains sidelined by injury, that will be particularly good news for James Gist as the veteran seeks to continue arguably the best season of his career against his former club.
Real Madrid vs Baskonia
No team is hotter right now than Real Madrid (11-6), which has surged to joint third place with a run of six consecutive wins with the presence of newly signed Walter Tavares – who has averaged 10.5 points and 10 rebounds in his last two games – helping to overcome a lengthy injury list. Madrid lost by 30 against this week’s visitors Baskonia (8-9) when the teams met in Vitoria in Round 7, so expect a sense of revenge to be in the air as two teams that know each other extremely well go head to head. Baskonia showed its capabilities with last week’s thrashing of Olympiacos, and knows another win could be enough to climb into the playoffs zone.
AX Olimpia Milan vs Unicaja Malaga
Milan (4-13) is now rock bottom in the standings after suffering a run of eight losses in nine games, and will seek a turnaround against an Unicaja team (7-10) which has been plunged back into doubt by following four straight wins with two consecutive losses. Unicaja is the third-lowest scorer in the competition (76.4 points per game) but has a chance to improve that tally against Milan, which has allowed more points than anyone else (83.3 ppg.). The hosts need leading scorer Andrew Goudelock to return to form after being held scoreless by CSKA last week.
Euroleague Basketball Tips
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade vs Khimki Moscow Region
Two teams looking for a return to winning ways meet in the Serbian capital as Zvezda (7-10) hopes to boost its playoffs ambitions against a Khimki team (9-8) that could slip out of the top half with a defeat. It will be a special game for Khimki guard Charles Jenkins, a crowd-favorite in Belgrade, who returns to face his former team for the first time. The outrageously consistent scoring exploits of Alexey Shved (21.9 points per game) present a major challenge to a Zvezda defense that allowed 105 points against Efes last week, but the home team will look to exploit the ongoing absence of Khimki’s leading rebounder, Thomas Robinson, to dominate the paint through big men Milko Bjelica and Mathias Lessort.
Brose Bamberg vs Zalgiris
After losing three consecutive games it felt it should have won, Brose (6-11) will look to end its five-game slide against a visiting Zalgiris (11-6) that is managing to find new ways to win on an almost weekly basis. The energy of last week’s shot-blocking game-winning hero Edgaras Ulanovas will be vital in helping disrupt the passing rhythm Brose attempts to achieve, while the visiting backcourt duo of Kevin Pangos and Vasilije Micic will attempt to offer backcourt control and penetration against a Brose defense that has registered fewer steals (4.7 per game) than any other team.
Olympiacos vs Maccabi Tel Aviv
Olympiacos (12-5) will attempt to at least keep a hold of its current share of second place by bouncing back from last week’s thumping defeat against Baskonia, while Maccabi (9-8) will hope to use its stunning comeback win over Brose to reignite a playoffs challenge that had been in danger of faltering. Expect a contrast in styles between an Olympiacos team that likes to slow the game down and a Maccabi side that loves to unleash explosive fastbreaks. To win in an environment like Piraeus, Maccabi will probably have to improve its free-throw conversion rate of 67.9%, second-worst in the competition.
Valencia vs Barcelona
An all-Spanish affair will see Valencia (5-12) and Barcelona (6-11) attempt to get back on the winning track after seeing their respective mini-revivals halted by losses last week. These two teams are close to drinking in the last-chance saloon in terms of challenging for the playoffs, so expect nothing to be left on the floor. Barcelona has a clear edge in rebounding with an average of 36.3 per game against Valencia’s 31.1, and the visiting team will look to keep the ball moving to maintain its current status as the league leader in assists (21.2 per game).
Basketball Tips: livetipster.com