Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
EuroLeague powerhouses will butt heads in Round 24 with a possibility of two more teams snagging playoff tickets. Two of the competition’s winning-est sides clash on Thursday when Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv hosts CSKA Moscow. Friday brings with it the always hot derby of Athens between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. And in the finale for the round, the owner of the 2016-17 season’s best record, Real Madrid, takes on reigning champion Fenerbahce.
Crvena Zvezdavs Unicaja Malaga
Two teams still on the fringe of the playoff race meet for a key showdown as Zvezda (9-14) seeks a home victory against an in-form Unicaja (10-13), which has won two in a row at home and is now looking to end a three-game losing streak on the road. Zvezda is the least effective three-point shooting team in the competition, having made just 34.0% of its long-range attempts, and is also the worst defensive rebounding team in the league with an average of 20.2 per game. Unicaja will look to maintain its recent defensive form, having allowed an average of just 68.7 points in its last three games.
Panathinaikos vs Olympiacos
The Athens derby has plenty of significance in the playoffs picture as Panathinaikos (14-9) hopes to climb out of a four-way tie for fourth place, while Olympiacos (16-7) aims for a victory to maintain a share of second. The home team has suffered a dip in form in recent weeks, losing four of its last six games, and as always needs to be wary of the resurgent Vassilis Spanoulis, who delivered one of his best performances in years with 25 points and 9 assists in last week’s win over Valencia. Olympiacos has won its last three games and is gunning for revenge after losing at home against the Greens earlier in the season.
Real Madrid vs Fenerbahce
An electrifying week of action closes out with another cracker as Madrid (14-9) hosts Fenerbahce (16-7) in a repeat of last season’s semifinal and the 2015 final. The game could be decided by a simple question of whether Fenerbahce’s defense can stop a Madrid offense led by top-ranked performer Luka Doncic and in-form Facundo Campazzo: the Turkish champion has conceded the fewest number of points in the league, an average of 73.2 per game, while the hosts boast the second-best offensive record with 84.7 points per game.
Euroleague Basketball Tips
Zalgiris vs FC Barcelona
Heading into the week as one of four teams currently tied for fourth place, Zalgiris (14-9) will aim to complete the double against Barcelona (7-16), which has lost six of its last seven games and is still bruising from last week’s Clasico thrashing. Zalgiris will lean upon its passionate home crowd and the second-best three-point shooting record in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, having converted 41.5% of its long-range strikes. Expect to see plenty of ball-sharing between the teams who rank first and second in the league in assists: Barcelona with 20.3 assists per game and Zalgiris with 19.6.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs CSKA Moscow
Maccabi (12-11) will attempt to protect its position in the top half of the standings by gaining its first home win in nearly a decade against CSKA (18-5), which also needs the victory to maintain a safe distance in first place. The host has won six of its last seven home games, scoring at least 81 points in each of those victories, and will need to maintain that kind of offensive production against an explosive CSKA offense which has scored 93, 99 and 93 points in its last three outings. As one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the competition (11.9 offensive boards per game), Maccabi will look to gain an advantage through its physicality.
Valencia vs Brose Bamberg
Two teams with dying fading ambitions go head to head knowing that victory is essential to maintain post-season ambitions. Valencia (8-15) has been a tough nut to crack at home recently, where it has won four of its last five, including victories over playoff hopefuls Panathinaikos and Khimki as well as first-placed CSKA. Brose (9-14) is winless on the road since Round 5, having losing eight in a row, but will hope for a change in fortunes under recently appointed Coach Ilias Kantzouris, who seems to have placed a greater emphasis on rebounding with his team gaining 41 boards in last week’s win over Zvezda – far above its season average of 32.2.
Olimpia Milan vs Anadolu Efes
A basement battle for pride gives Milan (7-16) a chance to finish a run of three consecutive away games against last-placed Efes (6-17), which has lost seven in a row on the road. Milan is the worst rebounding team in the competition with an average of 30.8 boards per game, while Efes ranks third in offensive boards with 12.2 per game. The Italian team, however, has been far more accurate with its field goal attempts, making 53.1% of two-point attempts and 37.1% of three-pointers, compared with Efes’s inferior respective conversion rates of 49.2% and 34.8%.
Baskonia vs Khimki Moscow
A clash in the quest for postseason action sees Baskonia (10-13) continue its push for a place in the top half against red-hot Khimki (14-9), which is in the thick of the race for home-court advantage in the playoffs after winning three in a row and five of its last six. Although scoring star Alexey Shved gets the headlines, the key behind Khimki’s recent success has been defense, with just 66, 74 and 61 points allowed in its last three games. That will be seriously tested by a Baskonia team that regularly produces fireworks at home, scoring at least 81 points in each of its last six games at Fernando Buesa Arena.
Basketball Tips: livetipster.com