It’s been a long and busy week in Basketball for Europe’s top teams and players and tonight we could see even more drama. Let’s get you set for another wild week of playoff action in Euroleague and the NBA.
As fearlessly predicted by BiE Barcelona got the brooms out against Galatasaray. While the Istanbul club was always expected to fall in this series, they put up a brave fight to make Barca earn the sweep on Monday before falling 78-75. This makes it five final fours in six years for Barcelona, with the one they missed out on notably having taken place in their backyard.
A reverse sweep is the only way Olympiacos will prevent there being a Clasico at the semi-final stage. Trailing 2-0 to Real Madrid, the back-to-back reigning champions need something big at the SEF later today. This column has predicted Real getting the job done in four games but for the Reds to force a Game 4, they must prove the bookies wrong as Olympiacos are -1.5 underdogs on their own floor.
Before getting to the basketball issues with the next game, a quick point. Don’t do proposals at games.
Nope, not buying it CSKA. You can’t fool me. Sure, I know you’ve got a better team than Panathinaikos but I’m not going to let an impressive Game 2 win over the Greens make me think you can finish this off in Athens. It just wouldn’t seem right for CSKA to take care of this in a comfortable fashion. Yes, the Greens have all sorts of issues but tonight’s Game 3 screams of CSKA gonna CSKA. I’m locking this one down for a Game 4 at the very minimum.
In a shock to pretty much no-one, EA7 Milano and Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv have the makings of the best series in the playoffs. After a dramatic overtime win for Maccabi in Game 1, Milano came back to win 91-77 in Game 2. Home court still favours the Israelis but it would be a brave observer who calls this series ending before Game 5. Admittedly BiE did just that, now we’re frantically reconsidering.
Before jumping across the pond, the ABA Liga has announced its team of the year. DeMarcus Nelson (Crvena Zvezda), Bogdan Bogdanoivc (Partizan), Dario Saric (Cibona), Joffrey Lauvergne (Partizan), and Boban Marjanovic (Crvena Zvezda) received team of the year honours. This week also sees the culmination of the ABA Liga with the Final Four in Belgrade. Crvena Zvezda takes on Cibona in the first semi-final on Thursday while Cedevita play Partizan in the second semi on Friday. The winners will meet in Sunday’s final.
And now to jump across the pond…
Starting in the Western Conference and normally Nicolas Batum’s 14 points and 9 boards in a playoff game would merit massive heraldry but Batman must have been more than happy to cede the glory to LaMarcus Aldridge on Sunday night as he scored 46 points and grabbed 18 boards in an utterly beastly performance as the Blazers took Game 1 against the Rockets. Joel Freeland saw the briefest of action for Portland, notching 1 point from a free throw. Omer Asik had 6 rebounds and 2 points for Houston in their loss.
Les Spurs rallied to beat the Mavs with 26 points 6 assists and 4 boards from Tony Parker. Boris Diaw chimed in with 4 points, 2 boards, and 2 dimes, while Marco Belinelli had a forgettable 0-4 night shooting and nabbed 2 rebounds for his trouble. Dirk Nowitzki struggled for Dallas with 11 points and 8 boards in the 90-85 loss while Jose Calderon managed 7 points and 2 assists.
Marc Gasol will need to be a much bigger factor for the Grizzlies to get back into their series with the Thunder, after an ugly shooting display and a lack of impact on the glass as Memphis lost 100-86 in Game 1. Serge Ibaka’s 17 and 9 game was relatively quite by his standards. Thabo Sefolosha will hope to play a bigger role in Game 2 tonight for OKC, while Kosta Koufos isn’t expected to feature heavily for the Grizzlies.
Hedo Turkoglu is the only European involved in the Warriors and Clippers series. The Turk saw 4 minutes and pulled in 1 board for the Clips in their 109-105 defeat at home.
Over in the Eastern Conference, Jonas Valanciunas was in historic form for the Raptors on Saturday. Valanciunas had 18 rebounds in the clash with the Nets, a record for a Toronto player in the post-season, to go with his 17 points. It wasn’t enough however to give the home side the W, even with the added inspiration of Masai Uijiri saying fuck to a crowd of people before the game. Mirza Teletovic had 2 points and 2 boards as Brooklyn took the win 94-87. Nando de Colo also saw some floor time for Toronto, picking up 1 rebound in just under 4 minutes of play.
8 points, 7 boards, and a highlight reel technical foul. That’s the stat line for Pero Antic in his first NBA playoff game as the Hawks stunned the Pacers 101-93. Ian Mahinmi had 5 points and 6 rebounds for Indiana but this was Atlanta’s night, which therefore means it was Pero’s night. We are immensely biased towards Pero.
Marcin Gortat had 15 points and 13 boards in a battle of European bigs, with the Pole coming out on the winning end against Joakim Noah’s Bulls. The Frenchman went 10 and 10 as Chicago dropped Game 1 at home 102-93.
The one series of the playoffs with zero European involvement saw some team called the Heat beat the Bobcats. Our sympathies to Ben Swanson aka @CardboardGerald whose hopes were built up repeatedly throughout Sunday.