Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
Round 25 features a high-powered showdown that could be crucial in determining home-court advantage in the playoffs when Real Madrid hosts Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens. Another matchup with potential post-season ramifications sees reigning champ Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul travel to face Zalgiris Kaunas. And there’s a Spanish derby as Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz attempts to boost its playoffs hopes with a testing road trip to Valencia Basket.
CSKA Moscow vs. Unicaja Malaga
With a playoff berth already wrapped up, CSKA Moscow (19-5) is now aiming to achieve its next objective by gaining a win which could secure home-court advantage in the next stage. Standing in the way is a Unicaja team (10-14) that is two wins outside the playoff zone and will hope to recover leading scorer and assister Nemanja Nedovic (15.7 ppg., 4.6 apg.), who missed last week’s loss in Belgrade through injury. There will also be a key role for former CSKA big man James Augustine, who will face a tough task in supplying his usual share of rebounds (6.8 rpg.) as he goes up against old teammate Kyle Hines and the athletic Will Clyburn (6.1 rpg.).
Zalgiris vs. Fenerbahce
Fresh from an impressive home victory over Barcelona last week, fourth-placed Zalgiris (15-9) will now look to hold onto that position by claiming its second win of the season against Fenerbahce (17-7), which is just one win away from confirming a place in the playoffs. These are the second- and third-best three-point shooting teams in the competition, with Zalgiris converting 41.5% of long-range strikes and Fenerbahce slightly better at 41.6%. Arturas Milaknis and Kevin Pangos both average more than two triples per game, and James Nunnally is on a record-setting pace for the visitors (59% of three-pointers made), so expect plenty of long-range bombs at a hyped-up Zalgirio Arena.
Olympiacos vs. Bamberg
Last week’s Athens derby win was not only a big morale booster for Olympiacos (17-7), but also secured it a place in the playoffs. Now Vassilis Spanoulis and co will seek to take a step closer towards home-court advantage by gaining an eighth successive home victory with the visit of Brose Bamberg (9-15). The German champion – led by former Olympiacos man Daniel Hackett – perhaps has little at stake with playoffs aspirations fading fast, but will arrive with a new head coach, Luca Banchi, and would love to continue its surprisingly strong record over Olympiacos after winning five of the previous seven meetings between the teams.
Barcelona vs. Crvena Zvezda
After keeping its post-season hopes alive with a vital home victory over Unicaja last week, Zvezda (10-14) will now seek to snap a run of four road losses with a trip to floundering Barcelona (7-17), which has lost its last five games. Barcelona, which may be without injured Adam Hanga for the remainder of the season, is still a dangerous opponent at home, but is still perhaps finding its feet under recently appointed coach Svetislav Pesic. Zvezda will lean on the scoring skills of Taylor Rochestie, who ranks sixth in the league with an average of 14.2 points per game. If either Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv or Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz win on the road Thursday, a Barcelona loss would formally eliminate the team from playoff contention.
Let’s summarize our Euroleague tips today.
Euroleague Basketball Tips
Khimki Moscow vs. Olimpia Milan
Playoffs-chasing Khimki (14-10) needs to get back on track against a Milan team (8-16) that has shown it is more than willing to play for pride despite being close to elimination. The hosts have won three straight in Moscow and will look to control the boards through the agile Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Thomas (both averaging 5.4 rebounds per game). But Milan also has a pair of dominant big men in Kaleb Tarczewski (6.0 rpg.) and Arturas Gudaitis (5.9 rpg.), and possesses a pure scorer in the form of Andrew Goudelock (13.2 ppg.) to rival Khimki’s league-leading scorer Alexey Shved (22.0 ppg.).
Anadolu Efes vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv
With its place in the top half of the standings under serious threat, Maccabi (12-12) needs to bounce back from two consecutive losses as it travels to face last-placed Efes (6-18). Maccabi’s fast-paced offense will attempt to create plenty of good looks for leading scorer Pierre Jackson (14.5 ppg.), while new Efes signing Sonny Weems will hope for another solid outing against his former team after scoring 18 points on his debut. Also look out for an excellent quartet of shot blockers: Efes’s Bryant Dunston and Maccabi trio Jonah Bolden, Alex Tyus and Art Parakhouski all average at least 1 block per game. Efes will be formally eliminated from playoff contention if it loses.
Valencia vs. Baskonia
Valencia’s (9-15) qualification hopes may be hanging by a thread, but last week’s impressive win over Brose Bamberg – featuring a club record 15 three-pointers – showed that the Spanish champion is not ready to give up on its season just yet. So it promises to be an intense showdown with Baskonia (11-13), which could finally grab a share of eighth place after months of coming close to the top half. The visiting team’s efforts will be led by last week’s MVP Toko Shengelia, who is one of the league’s top rebounders with 6.7 boards per game and also leads his team in scoring with an average of 14.4 points.
Real Madrid vs. Panathinaikos
Expect a fierce battle between two heavyweights in a game that will break their tie for fifth place. Both teams have stuttered recently, with Madrid (14-10) losing three of its last four games and Panathinaikos (14-10) only winning two of its last seven. Madrid has Anthony Randolph and Gustavo Ayon healthy again to complement Walter Tavares and Felipe Reyes, and the battle inside the paint between that quartet and the Greens’ big men Chris Singleton, James Gist, Adreian Payne and Ian Vougioukas will be bruising – and potentially decisive.
Basketball Tips: livetipster.com
* Odds are correct at time of publishing and are subject to change.