Round 24 of the EuroLeague brings us nine thrilling matchups. To gain a better understanding of what to expect from these games and who to watch, sit back, relax, and delve into our preview of the round!
Bayern Munich vs. Baskonia (30 January, 21:00 EET)
Bayern’s aspirations to reach the playoffs suffered a significant setback in Round 23 when they lost at home to ASVEL Villeurbanne. This game somewhat reflected the overall theme of Bayern’s season, characterized by instability.
Adding to the disappointment was the fact that key power forward Devin Booker injured his ankle in the second quarter and did not return to the court. Whether the American will play against Baskonia is currently uncertain. The same applies to starting center Serge Ibaka, who is dealing with a knee issue.
In the previous round, experienced point guard Jordan Theodore made his debut for Baskonia, leaving a good impression against Valencia. In 18 minutes of play, the American scored nine points, grabbed two rebounds, and dished out two assists.
It’s worth noting that while Bayern is one of the weaker home teams in the league, winning six out of ten games, Baskonia has a better away winning percentage than all teams except Real Madrid. The Northern Spanish club has defeated six opponents in 11 away games.
To disrupt Bayern, Baskonia needs to solidify their defense. In the last three rounds, opponents have shot 42.5% from three-point range and 56.2% from two-point range against them, both of which are among the league’s lower rankings.
ASVEL Villeurbanne vs. Fenerbahce Istanbul (30 January, 21:00 EET)
ASVEL’s season has been quite inconsistent. However, their away victory against Bayern in the last round indicates that the French club should not be underestimated.
It’s worth noting that ASVEL achieved the victory over Bayern without one of their leaders, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, who is also doubtful for the game against Fenerbahce. Additionally, Nando de Colo, ASVEL’s star, has been absent due to a calf injury since Round 15 but is hopeful to return by mid-February.
In recent games, ASVEL has been led by point guard Paris Lee and center Youssoupha Fall. In the last five matches, Lee has averaged 18.4 points, 6.6 assists, and 1.6 steals, while Fall has contributed 13.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. Notably, Fall has an impressive 71% field goal percentage.
Fenerbahce is dealing with numerous injuries, especially among their forwards. However, there is hope for the return of one of their leaders, Nigel Hayes-Davis, against ASVEL. Additionally, newly acquired forward Amine Noua made a strong debut in Round 23, contributing defensively and scoring nine points, making all of his shots.
Fenerbahce’s defensive focus against ASVEL is clear: disrupt Lee’s play. If successful, ASVEL may face difficulties since Lee serves as their only EuroLeague-level playmaker.
Crvena Zvezda Belgrade vs. Valencia (30 January, 21:00 EET)
This may sound like a broken record, but Zvezda’s season has been highly inconsistent. They have secured impressive victories, such as against Belgrade Partizan, but in Round 23, they suffered a defeat on the road to the struggling ALBA Berlin, losing 80-89, with the gap exceeding 20 points at some point.
At least, Zvezda got some relief in the backcourt from the injury crisis with the return of Nemanja Nedović. However, Miloš Teodosić and Nikola Topić remained sidelined, although Teodosić will return against Valencia.
Yago dos Santos has been the one benefiting the most from his colleagues’ injuries. The Brazilian point guard has averaged 23 points in the last two games, shooting 50% from three-point range. Dos Santos played a crucial role in bringing Zvezda back into the game against ALBA.
Valencia faced a setback over the weekend when center Brandon Davies got injured in the Spanish league, and it’s currently uncertain whether the key player will be able to play against Zvezda. If not, it would be a significant blow, as Davies has been one of the league’s top performers in the last five rounds, averaging 16.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks.
Valencia is known for its rock-solid defense, while Zvezda has recently struggled defensively. Though they have been efficient on the offensive end, Valencia is not far behind statistically. Therefore, Valencia is considered the favorite, even though the game is taking place in Belgrade.
Olympiacos vs. ALBA Berlin (30 January, 21:15 EET)
The Greek powerhouse faces injury problems, as both centers Nikola Milutinov and Moustapha Fall are sidelined, and in Round 23, important guard Nigel Williams-Goss was also absent against Real. Williams-Goss is expected to be back in action against ALBA, but Fall and Milutinov won’t play.
Their absence provided an opportunity for Filip Petrušev against Real. While the Serbian player received more minutes than usual, it’s worth noting that Petrušev is a power forward, not a center. Therefore, it’s not surprising that he didn’t leave a significant impression in the game against Real.
Although ALBA won against Zvezda in the previous round, they suffered a setback with a key player. Starting center and one of the standout performers of the EuroLeague season, Johannes Thiemann, sustained an injury in the third quarter and did not return to the court. Whether he will participate against Olympiacos is currently unclear.
While Olympiacos should be superior on paper, they cannot underestimate ALBA. In their first meeting of the season, the Berlin club won the first half, although they eventually collapsed in the second half.
The outcome of this game will largely depend on which team can impose its pace. ALBA prefers to play a very fast-paced style of basketball, while Olympiacos tends to play a more composed game. In Berlin, ALBA achieved success with accurate three-point shooting and imposing their tempo.
Real Madrid vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv (30 January, 21:30 EET)
Real’s game might not purr as smoothly as it did at the beginning of the season, but they have won four out of their last five games, making it 20 victories in 23 matches this season. Notably, Real is the only club that hasn’t suffered a home defeat this season.
The absence of starting center Walter Tavares hasn’t significantly slowed down Real. While the exact duration of Tavares’ absence is uncertain, Vincent Poirier is a very capable replacement for the Spanish royal club.
Maccabi, on the other hand, grapples with the fact that their performances are highly inconsistent. In Round 23, they welcomed back one of their leaders, Lorenzo Brown, from an injury hiatus, and largely due to the outstanding performance of another star, Wade Baldwin, they defeated the in-form Panathinaikos Athens with a score of 90-75.
As an offensive-minded team, Maccabi might find optimism in the fact that Real has allowed opponents to score at least 80 points in their last three games. Moreover, opponents’ guards have been in good form, suggesting that Baldwin could shine against Real as well.
However, one significant drawback for Maccabi is their vulnerability on the boards. In the last three games, they have allowed an average of 16.3 offensive rebounds per game, which is unacceptably high. Even without Tavares, Real excels in offensive rebounding, and their average of 12 offensive boards per game in the last three outings positions them among the league’s best.
Žalgiris Kaunas vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul (31 January, 20:00 EET)
After a coaching change, Žalgiris’ results have been inconsistent, with wins followed by losses and vice versa. If the pattern continues, they will secure a victory against Efes at home, but the Turkish club is in good form.
Under the guidance of coach Andrea Trinchieri for six games, point guard Keenan Evans has increased his scoring output for Žalgiris. The American has an average of 19.7 points per game, trailing only Džanan Musa (20.0) and Markus Howard (20.5) in the EuroLeague.
While Žalgiris excels in offense, Trinchieri’s games have sometimes exposed clear deficiencies in defense. For instance, they struggle on the defensive boards, and in the last three rounds, opponents have made 56.5% of their two-point attempts against them.
Although Efes suffered a loss to Monaco in the previous round, coach Erdem Can’s team fought hard, falling just short when Rodrigue Beaubois’ three-pointer was ruled a two-pointer after video review, missing going to overtime by only a few millimeters.
Statistically, Efes is the best-performing team in the recent EuroLeague rounds, but before Round 22, Istanbul’s Fenerbahce was also in good form, yet they lost to Žalgiris in Kaunas by 23 points.
Monaco vs. Partizan Belgrade (31 January, 20:00 EET)
The return of guard Élie Okobo to the team has proven to be a stroke of luck, as Monaco has defeated two opponents in a row. While Okobo didn’t do much against Real, he contributed 16 points against Efes.
In the game against the Turkish club, Monaco’s leader Mike James also scored the same number of points, but the American made only six out of 14 field goals and committed four turnovers. His efficiency rating was eight, which is the lowest he has recorded this season.
For Partizan, recent rounds have been challenging. Things are especially difficult under the basket, where Bruno Caboclo has not fulfilled the expectations set for him. Although the Brazilian is a skilled player and occasionally does great things, overall, he hasn’t consistently delivered outstanding performances.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that Partizan has struggled in the paint in the last three rounds, especially defensively. For instance, opponents have made 59.4% of their two-point attempts against them, ranking them second to last in the league.
It’s also worth noting for the Belgrade club that while they are dominant at home in the Štark Arena, they are relatively lackluster on the road. In 12 EuroLeague away games, they have won only three, while at home, their record stands at nine wins and two losses.
Panathinaikos Athens vs. Milan (31 January, 21:15 EET)
Panathinaikos also faces challenges due to injuries, as their starting point guard, Kostas Sloukas, was absent from Round 23 and will miss this week’s matches. In the game against Maccabi, scoring machine Kendrick Nunn suffered an elbow injury in the third quarter, but he was back on the court for the weekend Greek League match.
Even without Sloukas and Nunn, it was surprising how convincingly Panathinaikos lost to Maccabi. On a bright note, power forward Dinos Mitoglu, who has averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this season, continued his fine form. Besides Jerian Grant, Mitoglu is the only Panathinaikos player who consistently delivers in every game.
While many clubs continue to lose players to injuries, Milan should now be at full strength. Nikola Mirotić, one of the team leaders, returned to the court on Sunday, scoring 16 points in 15 minutes in the Italian league. Center Nicolo Melli is also expected to be available against Panathinaikos.
Milan’s season has been characterized by instability, and the battle against Barcelona in Round 23 was a perfect example. The Italian club led 47-28 at halftime but ended up winning by a narrow margin of 74-70. Milan’s performance fluctuates not only from game to game but also from quarter to quarter.
While Milan’s defense is quite solid, their offense struggles. The return of Mirotić could be beneficial, as in the last three rounds, they have scored 96.7 points per 100 possessions, making it the second-to-last ranking in the league.
Barcelona vs. Virtus Bologna (31 January, 21:30 EET)
In the last two rounds, Tornike Shengelia, one of EuroLeague’s top players and the undisputed leader of Virtus, has been troubled by a back injury. Marco Belinelli, a sharpshooter, also missed the previous round due to the birth of his child, but he is expected to return against Barcelona.
Lately, Virtus has struggled defensively, conceding 88 points to Fenerbahce, 99 to Efes, and 95 to Maccabi in their recent games. In addition, Luca Banchi’s team has allowed opponents to make 50% of their field goals, which is one of the league’s poorer statistics.
Midway through the month, Barcelona seemed in good shape, but in the last two rounds, they have suffered losses and played poorly. Even the return of their main point guard, Nicolas Laprovittola, from injury last week did not save them, as the Argentine had his worst performance of the season against Milan.
However, Barcelona is formidable at home, winning 11 out of 12 games, with their only loss coming against Milan a month and a half ago.
On the other hand, Virtus is a top team in the EuroLeague and excels as a defensive unit. Considering recent performances, Barcelona needs to focus on improving their offense and shooting accuracy, as their three-point shooting has been only 32.3%, and their two-point shooting is at 49.6% in the last three rounds.