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Euroleague Tips with Previews – Round 19 – Tuesday

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Khimki – Barcelona

Khimki Moscow Region looks to turn things around when it hosts FC Barcelona. Khimki (2-16) has lost 10 consecutive games, including in Barcelona last month. Barcelona (12-6) put an end to a three-game slide of its own with a home victory over Valencia Basket last week. Coach Sarunas Jasikevicus’s men, who are tied for second in the standings, are 4-4 on the road this season.

Barcelona likes to attack the basket and has made the second-most two-pointers (20.9 per game) at the fourth-highest percentage (55.9%). Khimki leads the league in blocks (3.9 bpg.) and if Jordan Mickey and Devin Booker can slow down the Barcelona attack in the paint, it could pay major dividends. These two are also among the worst in turnovers with Khimki committing the third most (14.7 per game) and Barcelona the second most (14.8). Taking care of the ball could prove decisive in the end.

Janis Timma and Jonas Jerebko have missed the last two games. Greg Monroe has not played since Round 13.

Even with Barcelona’s roster in flux, Coach Jasikevicius’s priority is on the defensive end. Barcelona has allowed the lowest PIR (76.4) and second-fewest points (73.6) in the league. Its opponents are bottom of the table in two-point shooting (49.9%) and second-bottom in threes (33.6%). Regardless of which players are fit, another strong defensive showing is the key in Moscow.

Higgins left Barcelona’s Spanish League game on Saturday night with an apparent thigh injury. Brandon Davies has missed Barcelona’s last four games. Nikola Mirotic has missed Barcelona’s last two games.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (+6.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 12/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Efes – ALBA Berlin

Anadolu Efes Istanbul will look to gain some positive momentum at home when it hosts ALBA Berlin on Tuesday. Efes (9-9), which comes off a big road win at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, has dropped two of its last three home games and is 3-6 in Istanbul this season. ALBA (7-11) has dropped four of its last five games and has been dealing with a rash of injuries recently. Last week the German champs beat TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz before falling to Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. ALBA is 3-5 on the road this season.

Efes knows that ALBA is an aggressive team that ranks third in the league in offensive rebounds (11.0 orpg.). A quarter of its points against Efes the last time were second-chance points. Efes has given up the second-most offensive rebounds (10.9) in the league this season. A better showing on the defensive glass could not only take points away from ALBA, but also help Efes to get out more in transition.

ALBA’s aggressive style bears fruits in that it is ranked fourth in the league in steals (7.1 spg.) and forces the most turnovers (15.4). However, it has allowed the third-most points (83.6 ppg.) on the second-highest three-point shooting (40.3%) and highest percentage on twos (57.6%)m as well as the most assists (20.9 apg.). ALBA needs to not only put pressure on the ball handlers, but to make sure it doesn’t give up any easy baskets along the way to improve its chances in Istanbul.

Luke Sikma and Niels Giffey are expected to miss several weeks with injuries. Head Coach Aito Garcia Reneses has missed ALBA’s last three games after testing positive for COVID-19. Peyton Siva has missed ALBA’s last four games. Marcus Eriksson has missed ALBA’s last 10 games.

basketball prediction Tip: Over 160.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 12/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Fenerbahce – Baskonia

Two teams riding high will clash on Tuesday when Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul takes on TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. Fenerbahce (8-10) has won three in a row to climb up the table. Two of those came at home, where Coach Igor Kokoskov’s men are 4-4 this season. Baskonia (9-9) has won three of its last four, including knocking off league-leader CSKA Moscow last week. With both teams just outside the playoff zone, expect high intensity in this showdown.

Baskonia has a loaded front line, which is why it is third in the league in rebounding with 34.8 per game. Fenerbahce is 15th with 31.1. The gap is larger when viewing rebounding difference; Baskonia has outrebounded its foes by 3.7 boards per game and Fenerbahce has been outrebounded by an average of 3.3 per game. What’s more, Baskonia is

Ali Muhammed has missed Fenerbahce’s last three games.

Baskonia is among the league’s best at drawing fouls with 21.0 per game. However, it is the league’s worst team at free-throw accuracy 74.1%. Poor free-throw shooting combined with its 14.6 turnovers per game – fourth-most this season – is a dangerous recipe on the road. Baskonia must improve on both fronts to have a good chance in Istanbul.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 at 1.57 with bet365
(Price correct at 12/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Maccabi – Olympiacos

Two teams in good form looking to climb in the standings meet when Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv hosts Olympiacos Piraeus. Maccabi (8-10) has won five of its last seven games and is now looking to reclaim its former home-court dominance. The Israeli champs are 4-4 at home this season. Olympiacos (9-8) has won back-to-back games and has a winning record, 5-3, on the road this season. Four of its next five games will be on the road.

Maccabi is one of the best rebounding teams in the league with an average of 35.1 per game, while Olympiacos is third-worst with 30.8. Maccabi has needed that strong play on the glass to offset some of its shooting woes; it is below league-average from all areas and 16th in the league in true shooting percentage at 47.2%. Making more shots is the key for Maccabi.

Othello Hunter missed Maccabi’s Round 18 game with an eye injury.

With Othello Hunter likely out again for this game, Maccabi will be shorthanded in the paint and its size advantage with Dragan Bender at the ‘4’ will be negated by him needing to play more minutes at center. The depth the Reds have inside with Octavius Ellis, Livio Jean-Charles and Hassan Martin is tough for any team and even tougher when shorthanded. Pounding the paint could be a key for Olympiacos in Tel Aviv.

Kostas Papanikolaou has missed Olympiacos’s last two games. Shaquielle McKissic missed Round 18 with an ankle injury.

basketball prediction Tip: 2 (+4.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 12/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

AX Milan – Valencia

AX Armani Exchange Milan snapped a losing streak with a big road win last week and Valencia Basket will look to do the same on Tuesday when they meet in the fashion capital. Milan (10-7) had lost back-to-back games before winning in Madrid in Round 18. Now it looks to get a first home win after three straight losses. Milan is 4-4 at home this season. Valencia (10-8) has lost three straight games on the road and is 4-5 away from home this season.

Milan has averaged the third-most points (81.6 ppg.) in the league this season while committing the fewest turnovers (11.1 per game). What’s more, it’s forced opponents into 14.9 turnovers per game, which is the second-most in the league. Valencia (20.4 apg.) leads the league in assists, but if Milan can win the turnover battle, it will be in the driver’s seat.

Vladimir Micov has missed the team’s last three games. Shavon Shields did not play in Round 18 with a thigh injury and is doubtful for this game.

With Bojan Dubljevic’s participation in question, Valencia, which leads the league in two-point shooting (59.5%) will need Mike Tobey, Derrick Williams and Louis Labeyrie to make up for his absence by attacking the paint. Strong play by those bigs is critical for Valencia to score a victory in Milan this week.

Bojan Dubljevic missed Valencia’s Round 18 game. Vanja Marinkovic has missed Valencia’s last 13 games due to a shoulder injury.

basketball prediction Tip: Winning margin 3-way ‘Any other result’ (1-5p. each way) at 2.75 with bet365
(Price correct at 12/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

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PREVIEWS

Euroleague Tips with Previews – Round 21 – Friday

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Spanoulis Olympiacos

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CSKA Moscow – Fenerbahce

This is a battle between two of the last three Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions. CSKA Moscow (15-5) leads the standings despite two losses in its last three games. Mike James (20.4 ppg., 5.9 apg.), Nikola Milutinov (9.4 ppg., 8.6 rpg.) and Darrun Hilliard (11.1 ppg.) are leading the team right now. Fenerbahce (10-10) is on a five-game winning streak, led by Nando De Colo (12.1 ppg.), Jan Vesely (11.8 ppg., 5.3 rpg.) and Marko Guduric (11.6 ppg., 4.0 apg.).

CSKA leads the EuroLeague in scoring at 84.6 points per game and in offensive rebounds (13.8 orpg.). It is struggling to score in the paint, however, as CSKA ranks 17th in two-point shooting (50.7%). Playing at a really high rhythm, with James running the show in transition and elite, mobile big men in Milutinov and Toko Shengelia should allow CSKA to find advantages everywhere. Stopping former CSKA star De Colo may be one of the biggest keys to this game.

Will Clyburn is out with an ankle injury. Daniel Hackett has missed the last three games with an ankle injury.

Fenerbahce has combined for 30 of 52 three-point shooting (57.7%) in its last two games. Adding a great scorer like Guduric has paid off right away, as all shooters – Eddie, De Colo, Lorenzo Brown, Melih Mahmutoglu – have found more space to pull the trigger. Stopping Milutinov should be a priority, and Fenerbahce relies on Vesely, Ahmey Duverioglu and Johnny Hamilton to do so. Brown and Alex Perez must be ready to play on-the-ball defense against James to prevent him from making the difference in this game.

basketball prediction Tip: Over 157.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 22/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

Crvena Zvezda – Barcelona

After beating Real Madrid on Monday, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade will look to keep its momentum going when it hosts FC Barcelona, which has won three in a row. Both teams hope to have their star players back; Jordan Loyd has missed five straight games for Zvezda (7-13) and Nikola Mirotic has sat out the last four for Barcelona (14-6). Only 4-6 at home this season, Zvezda has won two of its last three in the Serbian capital. Barcelona is 6-4 on the road.

Despite the presence of Duop Reath and Ognjen Kuzmic, Zvezda is last in the league in two-point shooting at 49.4%. It won’t get any easier against Barcelona, which has allowed a league-low 48.9% in such shots. The potential return of Loyd could create more room in the paint for the Zvezda bigs, who must become threats to help the team put pressure on Barcelona.

Marko Simonovic has missed the last four games with an injury. Jordan Loyd has missed Zvezda’s last five games with an illness.

If there is any rust in the Barcelona attack as it brings Mirotic back into the fold, Coach Jasikevicius can always rely on his defense; Barcelona’s 73.7 points allowed per game are the second-fewest in the league. Strong defense and the excellent perimeter scoring of its battery of swingmen that includes Cory Higgins, Alex Abrines and Kyle Kuric may be the recipe for a victory in Belgrade.

Brandon Davies has missed Barcelona’s last six games. Nikola Mirotic has missed Barcelona’s last four games.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (+7.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 22/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

Zalgiris – Olympiacos

Zalgiris Kaunas will look to put an end to a two-game losing streak when it hosts Olympiacos Piraeus on Friday night. Zalgiris (11-9) had won six straight before its recent slide, with both of those losses on the road. The Lithuanian champs have won four straight at home. Olympiacos (11-9) comes off an overtime road win at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Tuesday and has won four of its last five games. The Reds have also won five of their last six on the road.

Zalgiris is second in the league in three-point shooting at 42.3% and it may choose to lean on the long ball a little bit more against Olympiacos, which is among the league’s best at blocking shots with 3.2 per game. Alternatively, attacking the paint early through Joffrey Lauvergne, Augustine Rubit or penetrating guards to put the Olympiacos bigs into foul trouble could prove vital, since allowing the Reds big men to control the paint would be a problem for the hosts.

Zalgiris swingman Patricio Garino remains out of action after a knee operation. Steve Vasturia will be sidelined at least until mid-February with a knee injury.

The Reds have relied heavily on star guard Kostas Sloukas (11.9 ppg., 6.1 apg.), who has played at least 32 minutes in three of his last four games. Consistent playmaking when he rests in critical and Olympiacos has the man in former MVP Vassilis Spanoulis. A strong game from Spanoulis could be the recipe for another road win.

Kostas Papanikolaou has missed Olympiacos’s last five games. Giannoulis Larentzakis has not played in Olympiacos’s last two games.

basketball prediction Tip: Under 157.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 22/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

Baskonia – ALBA Berlin

Round 21 will come to a close late Friday with a showdown between TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and ALBA Berlin. Baskonia (9-11) returns home after losing twice on the road last week. Coach Dusko Ivanovic’s men have won their last two games at home and are 6-4 this season at Buesa Arena. ALBA (7-13), which has lost three in a row and ix of its last seven games, is slowly getting back to health after being without several key players – and Coach Aito Reneses Garcia – recently. The German champs are 3-6 on the road this season.

Baskonia leads the league in steals (7.9 apg.) and has an elite transition leader in Pierria Henry. When quick shots aren’t there, Baskonia can rely on patience against an ABLA defense that has allowed teams to shot 57.6% on two-pointers and 40.7% on threes – both league highs – this season. Good persistent ball-movement and the use of both threats such as Yousoupha Fall and Polonara in the paint and Alec Peters and Rokas Giedraitis on the perimeter can propel Baskonia at home.

Baskonia is third in the EuroLeague with 11.2 offensive rebounds per game and ALBA has collected the fewest defensive boards (20.2 per game) this season. ALBA must crack down on the glass because giving up extra second-chances to Baskonia could be dangerous. Ben Lammers, Sikma and Johannes Thiemann are the players tasked with this job.

Head Coach Aito Garcia Reneses has missed ALBA’s last five games after testing positive for COVID-19. Marcus Eriksson has missed ALBA’s last 11 games. Niels Giffey is expected to miss several weeks with an injury.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (-8.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 22/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

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Euroleague Tips with Previews – Round 21 – Thursday

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Zenit – Efes

Zenit (12-6) is on a three-game home winning streak, in which it has consolidated some of the many road victories it earned earlier this season. Kevin Pangos (11.6 ppg., 6.4 apg.), Arturas Gudaitis (10.6 ppg.) and Will Thomas (8.1 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) have been leading the team. Efes (11-9) is on a three-game winning streak. Vasilije Micic (14.6 ppg., 5.2 apg.), Shane Larkin (13.5 ppg., 4.6 apg.) and Bryant Dunston (10.3 ppg., 4.2 rpg.) are its main pillars.

Zenit has the best defensive numbers in the competition, allowing just 72.9 points per night without forcing a lot of turnovers (11.9 per game). That means there are a lot of contested shots, which is important against a team with great shooters like Micic, Simon, Larkin and Rodrigue Beaubois. On offense, Pangos and Mauteusz Ponitka should find a balance to get sharpshooters Billy Baron and Austin Hollins involved without forgetting that Gudaitis and Thomas are in great shape and ready to contribute in the low post.

Alex Poythress has been unavailable for Zenit’s last three games.

Efes has averaged 95.0 in its current streak, so speeding the game tempo against a team that feels more comfortable in half-court situations is almost mandatory for the Turkish powerhouse. Efes has outrebounded its opponents in all of its last three wins and that is where it is all starts in Coach Ergin Ataman’s philosophy – locking down the defensive boards to quickly find Micic or Larkin and play in transition. If Dunston stops Gudaitis down low, Efes should have a better chance of winning at Sibur Arena.

New signing Dzanan Musa is set to make his Efes debut.

basketball prediction Tip: Over 156.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 21/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

Panathinaikos – Khimki

Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (6-13) comes off a 26-point road loss and hopes to bounce back right away in the Greek capital. Nemanja Nedovic (16.4 ppg.), Ioannis Papapetrou (13.1 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) and Georgios Papagiannis (9.7 ppg., 6.2 rpg.) have been its main players. Khimki Moscow Region (2-18) is on a 12-game losing streak and has a new interim coach in Andrey Maltsev. Alexey Shved (18.1 ppg., 7.8 apg.), Devin Booker (13.1 ppg., 5.7 rpg.) and Jordan Mickey (11.4 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) are the team’s pillars.

Panathinaikos has strong assists numbers, 18.1 per game, despite not shooting the ball well until now. Indeed, Panathinaikos ranks 11th in two-point shooting percentage (53.0%), and 17th from downtown (35.2%) and from the free-throw line (74.4%). Running its offense through its most effective players, mainly Nedovic, Papapetrou and Papagiannis should improve those numbers (the latter two are sidelined), as well as using Aaron White to stretch the floor at the ‘4’ position, where he can generate more space for everyone else.

Ioannis Papapetrou and Giorgos Papagiannis are out.

With a new coach, some things should change in Khimki, but as in the last few years, the Russian powerhouse is expected to keep running its offense through Shved, a great one-on-one player who has optimized his passing skills in recent years. Khimki is allowing 90.3 points per game this season and opponents shoot at very good percentages (55.3% 2FG, 42.8% 3FG). Khimki must make a collective effort to improve its defense. The offense has never been an issue, with so many good scorers on the team.

Janis Timma and Jonas Jerebko have missed the last four games. Greg Monroe has not played since Round 13.

basketball prediction Tip: 2 (+9.5) at 2.05 with bet365
(Price correct at 21/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

Maccabi – Real Madrid

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv (9-11) will welcome Real Madrid (13-7) on Thursday in a game that could be crucial for both team’s aspirations in the competition. Maccabi, which has lost two of its last four games, returned to its winning ways against Baskonia, 91-82, and will look to keep protecting its home court. Real comes from a tough home loss to Zvezda, 77-79, in a postponed game from Round 19.

Maccabi is playing against the third best offense in the league, so sticking together in defense will be a main factor. Real is the best team in the league allowing only 13.7 apg. and that could also cause trouble for the hosts in offense. Maccabi will have to make good use of the second best mark in the league in rebounds. The guests top the rankings in average PIR, so winning this one will be no easy challenge for Maccabi.

Real arrives to Tel Aviv after an untimely loss at home. This will mean that Los Blancos will look to get things oing for them as soon as possible, starting with the league’s fourth best 19.2 apg. in offense. Maccabi is the second best team in the league under the boards, so that will be a big factor to control for Coach Laso and his players. Maccabi seems to be struggling from the stripe while also having some problems to run a smooth offense. Defense will be, again, a key to this game.

Anthony Randolph is out with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Sergio Llull has been sidelined for the last three games.

basketball prediction Tip: Maccabi Over 77.5 at 1.86 with bet365
(Price correct at 21/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

AX Milano – Bayern Munich

Two of the strongest teams in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this season meet again. AX Armani Exchange Milan (12-7) is on a three-game winning streak, led by Kevin Punter (14.2 ppg.), Sergio Rodriguez (10.0 ppg., 4.7 apg.) and Zach LeDay (10.6 ppg., 4.5 rpg.). Behind Milanese coach Andrea Trinchieri, FC Bayern Munich (12-8) hopes to snap its current four-game road losing streak. Wade Baldwin IV (14.2 ppg., 4.0 apg.), Vladimir Lucic (14.1 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) and Jalen Reynolds (14.0 ppg., 6.6 rpg.) have been its main pillars.

Rebounding has been the answer to Milan’s problems. After being heavily outrebounded by CSKA 33-60 in an overtime home loss, Milan dramatically improved those numbers. It outrebounded its next three opponents – Real Madrid, Valencia Basket, ALBA Berlin, getting 31.7 rebounds on average while allowing 26.7. Milan has found different go-to guys in those wins, which is great news for Coach Ettore Messina’s team. An unpredictable offense should make the team stronger in the long run.

Vladimir Micov has missed the team’s last five games. Shavon Shields has not played the last three games due to a thigh injury.

Bayern has lost its last four road games by 5 points or fewer, but just got Lucic back, which gives the German powerhouse a regular go-to guy in end-of-game situations. D.J. Seeley has been effective (53.8% 3FG, 92.3% FT) since he joined the team and given Bayern extra scoring punch. Seeley, Zan Sisko and Baldwin should control the game tempo and make sure Rodriguez and Delaney do not circulate the ball well on offense.

Robin Amaize, Nihad Dedovic and Zan Mark Sisko have missed the last three games.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (-3.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 21/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

Villeurbanne – Valencia

Coming from back-to-back games against Olympiacos, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (6-14) welcomes Valencia Basket (11-9) on Thursday. ASVEL last lost a postponed game against the Reds, 93-101, for five losses in the last six games. Valencia snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Zvezda, 91-71.

ASVEL plays against the fourth best offense in the league, and features the second worst itself, so on paper, the hosts will need to push it to the limit both in offense and defense. Valencia is also the third best team in the league averaging PIR, and leads the league in two-point shooting with a 60 percent. ASVEL will need to make good use of its physicality in order to have options to defend the Astroballe one more time.

Valencia arrives to Lyon with the goal of adding a new win to keep aiming for the playoff spots. On paper, the guests are favorite to win the game but their biggest flaw resides on the league-lowest 30.2 rebounds per game which, against such an athletic team as the hosts, could be a problem. ASVEL has some of the poorest numbers in the league from the stripe, so Valencia could see an option in pushing hard in defense.

Klemen Prepelic did not play in Round 20. Bojan Dubljevic has missed Valencia’s last three games. Vanja Marinkovic has missed Valencia’s last 15 games due to a shoulder injury.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (+4.0) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 21/01/2010, 08:40 CET, subject to change)

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Euroleague Tips with Previews – Round 20 – Friday

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Shved

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CSKA Moscow – Barcelona

It is a big battle atop the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings. CSKA Moscow (15-4) is on a six-game home-court winning streak, led by Mike James (20.6 ppg., 6.0 apg.), Nikola Milutinov (9.0 ppg., 8.8 rpg.) and Darrun Hilliard (11.1 ppg.). FC Barcelona (13-6), still without Brandon Davies, Victor Claver and Nikola Mirotic, has won its last two games and looks for its second win in Russia this week. Cory Higgins (11.8 ppg.), Nick Calathes (7.9 ppg., 7.6 apg.) and Kyle Kuric (9.0 ppg., 61.4% 3FG) are leading the team right now.

CSKA had an overwhelming rebounding advantage in its last two wins – 33-60 against AX Armani Exchange Milan and 44-26 against Zalgiris. All CSKA players should keep powering the boards, especially its best rebounders – Milutinov, Johannes Voigtmann and Joel Bolomboy. Stopping former CSKA star Higgins should be one of the keys, and the Russian powerhouse relies on Nikita Kurbanov to do so. CSKA should push the game tempo, as players like James, Hilliard and Shengelia bring out their best in transition.

Will Clyburn is out with an ankle injury. Daniel Hackett has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.

Stopping Milutinov down low should be a priority; he has recorded six double-doubles in the last seven games. With Davies sidelined, Barcelona relies on Artem Pustovyi, Pierre Oriola and Rolands Smits to play strong under the rims. Barcelona head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius has several options to guard James, but Calathes and Adam Hanga should be the most reliable ones. On offense, Calathes must get his team’s best shooters involved, Alex Abrines and Kyle Kuric, as they would open the floor for everyone else with their shots from downtown.

Brandon Davies has missed Barcelona’s last five games. Nikola Mirotic has missed Barcelona’s last three games.

basketball prediction Tip: 2 (+4.5) at 1.86 with bet365
(Price correct at 15/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Fenerbahce – Panathinaikos

A Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (9-10) team on the rise will welcome Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (6-12) on Friday for Round 20 in their second game this week. The hosts are currently on a four-game winning streak, including a commanding victory on Wednesday against TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, 96-76. On the other side, the Greens, who have just appointed Oded Kattash as new head coach, also got back on the winning track after three straight losses by triumphing over LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne at home, 88-71.

Fenerbahce is still the worst offensive team in the league at 74.6 ppg. but the injection of morale that the flurry of wins has given the team makes them a fearful foe. Coach Kokoskov seems to have found the formula and the hosts are going strong for a playoffs spot. However, Panathinaikos has better numbers almost on all fronts and it’s also a team looking to find its identity, as the Kattash signing shows, so expect a hard-fought battle.

Ali Muhammed has missed Fenerbahce’s last four games.

The Greens arrive in Istanbul with a new coach and having lost three of their last four games. However, the last one was a success and the team is still the fifth-best in the league under the boards, so that should be a weapon to help launch fast transitions. On defense, the Greens will have to watch out for Fenerbahce snipers (37.9% from the arc), but most of all, be ready to match the intensity and confidence that Fener will show after so many consecutive wins.

Ioannis Papapetrou did not play in Round 19.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (-8.0) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 15/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Zenit – Zelgiris

Zenit St Petersburg (11-6) looks to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season when it hosts Zalgiris Kaunas. Kevin Pangos (11.9 ppg., 6.4 apg.), Arturas Gudaitis (10.3 ppg.) and Will Thomas (8.5 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) lead Coach Xavi Pascual’s team. Zalgiris Kaunas (11-8) comes off a road loss in Moscow that snapped a six-game winning streak. Marius Grigonis (15.2 ppg.), Joffrey Lauvergne (11.0 ppg.) and Nigel Hayes (9.7 ppg.) have been its top scorers so far this season.

Zenit has some of the best defensive numbers in the competition, allowing a league-low 73.4 points and allowing opponents to make just 52.7% of its two-point shots and 35.8% from downtown. Contesting deep shots should be important against Zalgiris, the best three-point shooting team in the EuroLeague (43.0%). On offense, Zenit should make the most of Gudaitis’s greta form, running his offense through him and Pangos.

Alex Poythress has been unavailable for Zenit’s last two games.

Stopping Pangos is a priority for anyone playing against Zenit as its other pure point guard, Dmitriy Khvostov, is sidelined. Zalgiris relies on Thomas Walkup to play intense on-the-ball defense against him. The Lithuanian champs have enough shooters – Grigonis, Hayes, Arturas Milaknis, Lukas Lekavicius – to dynamite any game from beyond the three-point time. Martinas Geben and Lauvergne should be ready to stop Gudaitis around the basket. Controlling the defensive boards should be important to get easy points in transition.

Zalgiris swingman Patricio Garino remains out of action after a knee operation. Steve Vasturia will be sidelined at least until mid-February with a knee injury.

basketball prediction Tip: Zalgiris Over 74.5 at 1.83 with bet365
(Price correct at 15/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

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Bayern – Real Madrid

A virtual tie for third place in the standings will be broken on Friday in Round 21, when FC Bayern Munich (12-7) hosts Real Madrid (12-6). Bayern has won two of its last three games, including an 82-80 decision at home against Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday. Real saw a blizzard postpone its own game that night game against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, so its most recent result was a home loss to AX Armani Exchange Milan, 76-80, in Round 18.

Bayern faces the third-best offense in the league, although Real will be missing Sergio Llull aside from Randolph. It can be a great opportunity for the hosts to return the favor from Round 6. However, Los Blancos still lead the league in average PIR and they will be a bit more rested having skipped Wednesday’s game. If Lucic can keep the pace he set against Zenit, his added dimension will be needed to put the breaks on a Real team that won six in a row before last week.

Robin Amaize, Nihad Dedovic and Zan Mark Sisko have missed the last two games.

Real has better numbers in general than Bayern, and after not playing earlier this week, should be a bit more rested. However, Bayern has not let much rattle it so far this season. Real will have to watch for the aggressive defense of the hosts, who are second in the league in steals (7.9 spg.). Pay attention also to the battle in the paint by two of the hottest centers in the competition, Jalen Reynolds of Bayern and Walter Tavares of Real. This rematch with a step in the standings at stake will be quite a battle as teams start battling tooth and nail for playoffs position.

Anthony Randolph is out with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez were both sidelined in Round 18.

basketball prediction Tip: Over 156.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 15/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Olympiacos – Villeurbanne

Olympiacos will look to extend its three-game winning streak when it welcomes ASVEL to Peace and Friendship Stadium for the first of two games in five days between these teams. ASVEL, which will try to end its four-game losing streak, is set to host their rescheduled Round 10 game on Tuesday. ASVEL is on a three-day trip to Greece where it suffered an 88-71 loss against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Wednesday night, and now takes on a confident Olympiacos side coming off a dramatic 87-89 road win at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv.

Olympiacos has found its offensive click. No team is scoring more points over the last three games than Olympiacos with 92.7 per game, however, Coach Georgios Bartzokas’s team certainly has room for improvement. The Reds would certainly like to move the ball a little better, averaging just 17.0 assists during that same stretch, which is in the bottom half in the league. If Olympiacos improves its ball movement, it will be hard to stop.

Kostas Papanikolaou has missed Olympiacos’s last three games.

ASVEL has been outrebounded by an average margin of 7.3 rebounds over the last three games. And while it suggests the team has been struggling to control the boards, the rebounding deficit has also been a product of the team making just 45.6% of its two-point shots over that span. It will be important for ASVEL to establish an inside game to have a better shot at an upset in Piraeus.

basketball prediction Tip: 2 (+8.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 15/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

Valencia – Crvena Zvezda

The final game of Round 20 will see Valencia Basket host Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. Valencia (10-8) is on a three-game losing streak for the first time this season and hopes to bounce back at La Fonteta. Klemen Prepelic (11.2 ppg.), Nikola Kalinic (9.7 ppg.) and Louis Labeyrie (8.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) are leading the team right now with Bojan Dubljevic sidelined. Zvezda (6-12) looks for its first road win since mid-November. Corey Walden (11.1 ppg.), Johnny O’Bryant (12.1 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) and Quino Colom (9.3 ppg.) lead the attack with Jordan Loyd out.

Valencia has been outrebounded in each of its last three games, so being more aggressive under the rims should be one of the aspects to focus on. Without Dubljevic, everyone must help on the boards, but especially Tobey, Labeyrie and Derrick Williams. Preventing Colom from generating good options off pick-and-roll situations is also important for Valencia, as well as speeding up the game tempo and getting its best shooters involved. If Van Rossom, Fernando San Emeterio and especially Prepelic find good shots, it should be easier for the hosts.

Bojan Dubljevic has missed Valencia’s last two games. Vanja Marinkovic has missed Valencia’s last 14 games due to a shoulder injury.

Zvezda is allowing 78.0 points on average per game, but that number went down to 72.0 in the last two games. Defense and concentration come first for Coach Dejan Radonjic and his team has been more disciplined lately, using non-shooting balls to avoid easy points. Zvezda needs to improve its shooting percentages (49.1% 2FG, 36.5% 3FG) and has talented scorers such as O’Bryant, Corey Walden and Dejan Davidovac. The additions of experienced players like Colom and Landry Nnoko only help Zvezda raise those numbers.

Langston Hall and Marko Simonovic have missed the last two games with an injury. Jordan Loyd has missed Zvezda’s last three games with an illness.

basketball prediction Tip: Under 157.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 15/01/2010, 09:15 CET, subject to change)

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News Source: Euroleague.net

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