Real, CSKA look to Turkish teams to punch playoff tickets
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMar 02, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 02, 2017 12:00 am
Real Madrid could become the first team to advance to this year's Euroleague basketball playoffs if it defeats next-to-last-place Galatasaray today. CSKA Moscow, on the other hand, must beat Barcelona and hope Darüşşafaka loses its game against Panathinaikos
Real Madrid (18-5) and CSKA Moscow (17-6), the two teams with best records in this year's Turkish Airlines Euroleague, can mathematically clinch playoff spots this week.
Madrid could be the first team to advance to the playoffs today, if they defeat bottom dwellers Galatasaray Odeabank on the road. Even if Madrid fails to win, however, they could still clinch a playoff spot a day later, given Darüşşafaka Doğuş loses at home against Panathinaikos Superfoods.
Meanwhile, for CSKA to clinch a playoff spot, they must win at Barcelona on Friday, in the last game of the round of 24, and get some help from at least one other team too. Meanwhile, to punch their playoff ticket, CSKA would also need Darüşşafaka to lose their game, which is also on Friday.
Likewise, CSKA's win would turn into a playoff spot, if both Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade and Anadolu Efes lose their games. Zvezda will host Brose Bamberg, while Efes will travel to Unics Kazan.
With such parity in the Euroleague this season, big winning streaks have not been coming in bunches. CSKA had a pair of runs with six wins in a row earlier in the season while Zvezda won seven straight ties in December and January to elevate itself into playoff picture.Now, first-placed Madrid owns the longest streak with nine consecutive wins and counting. The second-longest streaks in progress, three in a row, belong to Efes and Panathinaikos.
Efes went unbeaten in February with a road win that snapped Zvezda's streak, plus home victories over EA7 Emporio Armani and Baskonia Vitoria. Their winning run lifted Efes up to the top-eight playoff places after being on the outside looking in for majority of the first two-thirds of the season.
In this round, Efes will visit Unics on the heels of point guard Thomas Heurtel being named February MVP. Moving stealthily within the top eight last month were Panathinaikos, by beating Galatasaray away, Bamberg and Unics at home, the latter on a buzzer-beater by Mike James.
Those three wins moved the Greens up from the seventh place to fifth, with a 14-9 record, just a win behind fourth-placed Fenerbahçe. That is another race to watch, but in a head-to-head tie, Panathinaikos would need to win two more games than Fenerbahçe, which own the tie-break advantage between them for having won by more points in Istanbul than the Greens did in Athens.
In a clash of traditional powerhouses and recent champions, the 2014 Euroleague winners Maccabi FOX will welcome the back-to-back champions in 2012 and 2013, Olympiacos Piraeus.
Olympiacos are sitting in the third place with 16 wins and ready to make a push down the stretch to clinch home-court advantage in the playoffs. Maccabi have won just three of its last 14 games, and are currently outside the playoff conversation.
Another clash of two titans, who have treaded in opposite directions this season, is set to close Round 24 on Friday night at Palau Blaugrana, where Barcelona will host CSKA.
Barcelona are coming off their first road win of the season, but have just two victories in their last eight games. With their 9-14 record, Barcelona are underdogs as far as playoffs are concerned, but a winning run could change their fortunes.
CSKA are in second place with a 17-6 record, and with another win, and some help in couple other games, the defending champs could clinch their playoff spot this Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Euroleague's leading scorer, Unics Kazan guard Keith Langford needs more 11 points to become only the third player and the fastest in Euroleague history to score 500 points in a single season. Last season, CSKA's Nando DeColo scored 525 points in 27 games and Malcolm Delaney scored 504 in 31 games. Both surpassed the 500 mark at the season's end, at the Final Four in Berlin.