Euroleague Preview & Tips – Play-offs Game 1

Euroleague basketball tips

Euroleague Basketball Tips

Euro League basketball predictions appear under each mini game preview.

Real – Panathinaikos

For the second season in a row, these teams meet in the playoffs. This time, the series begins in the Spanish capital. The teams arrive in much different momentums. Madrid lost two of its last three games and is facing the possibility of starting the series without point guard and former EuroLeague MVP Sergio Llull. Panathinaikos is among the hottest teams in the league with seven wins from its last eight games. However, the lone Madrid win and Panathinaikos defeat in the aforementioned periods was in Athens on a Rudy Fernandez buzzer-beating three in Round 29.

Madrid enters this series with its on-court leader, Sergio Llull, injured. The team must collectively make up for his absence in many areas. First is playing time; with two games in three days, the knock to the team’s depth is relevant. Madrid will also miss his backcourt scoring and leadership. Having Facu Campazzo to step into the starting lineup is huge, but without a natural third point guard, running the offense when Camapzzo rests will be more difficult. Playing well in these minutes is vital for Madrid.

Among many things that Panathinaikos must do to slow down Madrid’s offense, the Greens need strong play in the front. Center Georgios Papagiannis played very well down the stretch for Coach Pitino and had a respectable 9 points and 7 boards against Madrid last time. Beyond his contributions in numbers, Papagiannis must be a physical presence to limit Walter Tavares, Gustavo Ayon and Felipe Reyes without getting into foul trouble. It’s a big ask, but important for his team’s success.

Tip: 2 (+7.0) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 17/04/2019, 09:45 CET)

Anadolu Efes – Barcelona

It is a little bit of a historic occasion for Efes as it welcomes Barcelona for Game 1 of their best-of-five series. This will mark the first time Efes hosts a series opener in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this century. Efes is also attempting to get its first series win in its sixth attempt. Meanwhile, Barcelona returns to the playoffs after missing them the last two years and will look to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2014. In its previous three attempts, Barcelona has never won a Game 1 on the road.

The team holding home-court advantage would not want to jeopardize losing it with a slow start to the series. Efes ranks second in two-point (58.9%) and three-point (40.7%) accuracy, which means that its offense is likely to get going at some point of the game. But Efes needs to make sure that does not happen too late, and suddenly find itself playing catch-up. Coach Ergin Ataman’s men need to bring focus and energy from the opening tip-off in this game, to take control, just like they did against this same opponent in Round 25.

Barcelona allowed 76.4 points per game during the regular season, second-fewest in the competition, and it has relied on its defense throughout the season. It will be important for Barcelona to slow down the Efes ballhandlers — Micic, Shane Larkin and Krunoslav Simon — and make sure Efes does not get into its free-flowing offense, which posts 85.4 points and 19.9 assists per contest. Efes is also extremely dangerous in transition, and preventing the hosts from getting their usual dosage of easy buckets will be one of Barcelona’s priorities.

Tip: 1 (-4.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 17/04/2019, 09:45 CET)

CSKA Moscow – Baskonia

The playoffs begin the Russian capital with CSKA facing Baskonia in a repeat of their Round 30 game. CSKA has a long and impressive history both against Baskonia at home and the playoffs in general. The Russian giants have not lost a home game against Baskonia since 2005 and have not lost a playoff series this century. Baskonia has reasons for optimism after putting up a good fight in their most-recent meeting and slowly rebuilding chemistry with players returning from injuries.

Even after not playing to its standards for 30 minutes, one big quarter was enough for CSKA to take down Baskonia in Round 30. But that may not always be the case. What CSKA did well in that game was get good shots and make them (50.0% 2FG and 47.1% 3FG). However, it was outrebounded 28-35. Baskonia collected 12 offensive rebounds and turned them into 18 second-chance points. CSKA had just 6 second-chance points from 6 offensive rebounds. Closing that gap could pay dividends for Coach Itoudis’s men.

Baskonia committed the fifth-most turnovers in the league this season 12.8 per game. It made 15 in the Round 30 loss in Moscow. Every lost ball is a lost opportunity and in playoff basketball, one cannot let many opportunities go unused. Only Marcelinho Huertas (2.4 TOpg.) has committed more than 2 turnovers per game this season, so the effort must be a collective one. Look for Baskonia to be prepared for all of CSKA’s defensive looks to avoid wasting possessions with turnovers.

Tip: 1 (-8.5) at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 16/04/2019, 09:45 CET)

Fenerbahce – Zalgiris

It’s a series opener on the Asian side of Istanbul as Fenerbahce is prepared to host Zalgiris. Fenerbahce is undefeated on its home floor this season, and has won 17 EuroLeague games in a row at Ulker Sports and Event Hall dating back to last season. Fenerbahce is also 7-0 at home in the playoffs under coach Zeljko Obradovic. As Fenerbahce attempts to protect that streak and pave the way to its fifth consecutive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four appearance, upset-minded Zalgiris arrives red-hot to Game 1 with lots of momentum after a six-game winning streak to reach the playoffs at the last gasp.

Fenerbahce has not become the first team with 25 wins in the regular season by accident. Its defense allows league-low 75.8 points per game, and its offense has some of the best shooting percentages in EuroLeague history. Its 59.0% on two-pointers is the second-highest and 43.18% of three-pointers the third-highest accuracy in the EuroLeague this century. Despite such shooting prowess, Fenerbahce needs high energy and defensive intensity to grab control of the game, and the series.

In the two games earlier this season, Zalgiris did not manage to contain Kostas Sloukas. To steal Game 1, coach Sarunas Jasikevicius’s men need to start with defense on Fenerbahce’s playmaker while trying to slow the pace to cool down both the home players and their fans. Zalgiris will also need to make sure to control the defensive glass. Fenerbahce is tied for last place in offensive rebounds (8.2), and Zalgiris needs to make sure that those second-chance opportunities stay low.

Tip: Under 150.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 16/04/2019, 09:45 CET)

Basketball Predictions

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