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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