Euroleague Tips with Previews – Round 23 – Thursday

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Khimki – Fenerbahce

Two teams on opposite sides of the spectrum will clash on Thursday as Khimki Moscow Region (2-20) welcomes Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (12-10) in Round 23. The hosts are deep in a hole with 14 straight losses in last place of the standings. Khimki’s last defeat was a close one at home against Bayern, 93-95, on Tuesday. On the same night, Fener beat Maccabi at home 82-75 to run its winning streak to seven wins.

  • Janis Timma has returned to action after missing the last five games.
  • Devin Booker did not play in Rounds 21 and 22.
  • Jordan Mickey did not play in Round 22.

Khimki is effectively eliminated from the playoffs race, so wishes to show most that its talented roster can play together to start adding wins. The last loss was a close one, but now a team on the rise visits Moscow. Interestingly, Khimki shows better numbers than Fenerbahce on many fronts, but its major setback is the worst defense in the league, receiving more than 90 points per game. If things are going to work for the hosts, they will have to start by closing ranks on defense.

  • Danilo Barthel has not played since Round 18.

Considering the dynamics of both teams, things look good for Fener going into this game. However, Khimki not only averages more points per game than the guests, but also pulls more boards, dishes more assists, and gets more blocks. Fenerbahce is in high spirits, motivated and on the rise, but it will be wise not to get over-confident about this game.

basketball prediction Tip: Over 172.5 at 1.90 with bet365
(Price correct at 28/01/2010, 10:45 CET, subject to change)

Olympiacos – Barcelona

Two long-time international rivals meet up again on Thursday as Olympiacos Piraeus (11-11) welcomes first-place FC Barcelona (16-6) for Round 23. The Reds are currently on a three-game losing streak, including the last one at Milan, 90-79, on Tuesday. On the other hand, Barca has won the last five games, including a home win against Zenit, 85-81, also on Tuesday.

  • Kostas Papanikolaou has missed Olympiacos’s last seven games.
  • Giannoulis Larentzakis has not played in Olympiacos’s last four games.

Olympiacos needs wins urgently if it does not want to fade from the playoffs race. The foe this time will be as hard as they come. Barca is the second-best team in the league under the glass and has the third-best average PIR. The main problem for the Reds will be the guests’ defense, the best in the league. However, Olympiacos has already defeated Barcelona this season, and on the road, so the recipe exists for surprising the league leaders again.

Barca leads the standings and seems to have found a new rhythm to push ahead. Having recovered important pieces to the puzzle such as Niko Mirotic and Brandon Davies, the team is now replete with the weapons needed to stand atop the standings. Against Olympiacos, the guests will start from defense, as they almost always do. The Reds’ veterans will bring their experience to the task, but if Barcelona manages to stick to the game plan, it remains the favorite on paper.

basketball prediction Tip: 1 (+6.5) at 1.95 with bet365
(Price correct at 28/01/2010, 10:45 CET, subject to change)

AX Milano – Zenit

Two teams in the top spots of the standings square off in a direct duel on Thursday as AX Armani Exchange Milan (14-7) welcomes Zenit St Petersburg (13-7) for Round 23. Milan is currently riding a five-game winning streak, including the last one at home against Olympiacos, 90-79, on Tuesday. Zenit has found a bit of turbulence lately, having lost two of its last four games, including the last one in Barcelona, 85-81, also on Tuesday.

  • Shavon Shields has not played the last five games due to a thigh injury.
  • Jeff Brooks has not played in the last two rounds.

Milan enters the game boasting the second-best offense in the league, including the best numbers from beyond the arc. However, Zenit owns the EuroLeague’s second-best defense, setting up a battle of styles on Thursday. Zenit also has the third-best register in two-point shots, so the hosts will also have to pay attention on defense if they want to protect their home court, and especially keep an eye on their former teammate, center Arturas Gudaitis, who has been hot lately.

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

With its loss to Barca on Tuesday, Zenit gave up third place precisely to Milan, so winning in Italy to be third again will be a big incentive. Milan is one of the best offensive teams in the league, but Zenit has the second-best defense, so if the guests manage to impose their style, they will be halfway there. Both rosters are full of experienced players, so small details will be key for Zenit to escape Milan with a win.

basketball prediction Tip: Winning margin 3-way ‘Any other result’ (1-5p. each way) at 2.70 with bet365
(Price correct at 28/01/2010, 10:45 CET, subject to change)

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