Kostas Sloukas is in great form. Will Olympiacos be able to contain him? Source: Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Kostas Sloukas is in great form. Will Olympiacos be able to contain him? Source: Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

EuroLeague Round 29: What to expect and who to watch?

Basketball OlyBet 13.03.2024

Round 29 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!

Olympiacos vs. Panathinaikos Athens (14 March, 19:45 EET)

In the always fiery Greek derby, Olympiacos has taken five consecutive victories in the EuroLeague. It’s worth noting that before the current season, Panathinaikos had been struggling for several seasons, so this fact isn’t overly surprising.

Olympiacos has been making good use of their home court advantage lately, winning five consecutive games at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in the EuroLeague. It’s significant that in three of these games, Olympiacos had to chase the lead by halftime.

This season, the fierce rivals have met five times. Olympiacos won the Greek Super Cup 75-51, in EuroLeague they won in overtime 88-78, and in the Greek cup final 69-58. The domestic league games ended in Panathinaikos’s favor.

Olympiacos is hoping for the return of their main point guard and defensive stalwart Thomas Walkup, who missed the last round due to injury, but according to Greek media reports, his absence is likely to continue.

This would be excellent news for Kostas Sloukas. The offensive orchestrator switched jerseys last summer from Olympiacos to Panathinaikos and has shown his quality in the last two games, averaging 15 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Olympiacos desperately needs Walkup to slow down the Greek.

Fenerbahçe Istanbul vs Valencia (14 March, 19:45 EET)

Fenerbahçe’s record against Spanish clubs is unfortunate, and for instance, they have beaten Valencia only once in their last five encounters. However, the previous three meetings have been very evenly matched, with the largest margin being just three points.

The Turkish powerhouse has turned their home court into a fortress, winning 13 out of 14 games this season. The only loss came in a game where Crvena Zvezda Belgrade was on their way to a loss, but then Fenerbahçe collapsed themselves.

While Fenerbahçe has climbed into the top six in the standings, which would secure them a direct ticket to the quarterfinals at the end of the regular season, Valencia’s form is declining. They have lost three consecutive games in the EuroLeague.

And the situation won’t get any easier for them in Istanbul, as if Valencia struggles on offense, Fenerbahçe is a strong defensive team. For example, in the last two games, opponents have been held to an average of 76.5 points and only 46% shooting from the field.

Yes, Valencia is strong defensively, but after a three-week break, they have particularly struggled to stop opponents’ three-pointers, as they have allowed a 41% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. This plays into Fenerbahçe’s hands, as they have plenty of sharpshooters on their roster!

Source: Luca Sgamellotti/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Crvena Zvezda Belgrade vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (14 March, 20:00 EET)

Zvezda has suffered four consecutive losses in the EuroLeague, and at home, they have been defeated in three out of the last four games, although two of them were close encounters.

Maccabi’s form has fluctuated greatly this season, so it’s not surprising that they haven’t won three consecutive EuroLeague games this season. Thursday offers an opportunity to rectify mistakes, as the long break has benefited the Israeli powerhouse, and their performance has improved considerably.

If Zvezda wants to disrupt Maccabi’s rhythm, they need to control the opposition’s backcourt. Key players Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown can be immensely dangerous, and backup point guard Tamir Blatt can also be a game-changer. We saw this in the last round against Zalgiris Kaunas, where he scored six points in the first four minutes of the final quarter, provided three assists, and swung the game to Maccabi’s favor.

Zvezda will be without their super talent Nikola Topić, February addition Trey Thompkins, and Miloš Teodosić against Maccabi. Teodosić’s absence is particularly painful, as both teammates and head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos have stated that without the Serbian magician, Zvezda is a completely different team. The results show that the Red Stars are significantly weaker without him.

Their weakness primarily manifests on offense, while Maccabi has been solid defensively in the last two games. Yes, on average, they have conceded 83 points, but opponents’ field goal percentage has been only 42%.

ALBA Berlin vs Monaco (14 March, 21:00 EET)

Against the EuroLeague’s bottom team, Monaco has scored an average of 91 points, so Berlin’s club should be an easy target for them on Thursday. Moreover, in the last five rounds, ALBA’s smallest loss has been by 14 points.

While ALBA’s level has been very poor, Monaco has been getting better as the season progresses. Currently, they have won seven games in a row in the EuroLeague, marking a club record. Their life in Germany is made easier by the fact that Gabriele Procida and Matteo Spagnolo are definitely not taking to the court, and there are also question marks over Justin Bean and ALBA’s leader Johannes Thiemann.

To be honest, a victory for ALBA against Monaco would be an eighth wonder of the world, as the German club is weak both offensively and defensively. However, credit must be given to the fact that the players are fighting hard despite a terrible season.

Source: Alfonso Cannavacciuolo/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Baskonia vs Milan (14 March, 21:30 EET)

Ettore Messina-led Milan has been a very dangerous opponent for Baskonia, as they have won only one out of their last five matchups. In their first matchup this season held at the end of 2023, Milan completely locked down their defense, and although they eventually won by nine points, the actual superiority was clearer.

However, it’s important to note that Baskonia has picked up three consecutive wins at home and gained a lot of confidence from last weekend when they defeated Barcelona in the Spanish league, with Markus Howard contributing 37 points.

Similarly, one cannot overlook the fact that winning away games is almost an impossible mission for Milan. Out of their last 16 EuroLeague games played on opponents’ courts, the Italian giants have won only two.

But how could Milan clip Baskonia’s wings? Firstly, they need to control point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, who has had six games in the EuroLeague this season where he has accumulated at least ten points and ten assists. The American with Bulgarian citizenship is Baskonia’s engine on offense, and stopping him would greatly hinder them. In the first game, Messina’s men managed to do just that.

While Milan might play a more rudimentary offense compared to Baskonia, they have players like Shavon Shields, Nikola Mirotić, and Shabazz Napier who can single-handedly turn the game around. In the last round against Partizan Belgrade, they all performed well, resulting in a sweet victory.

In addition, guard Devon Hall deserves great praise, averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and three assists in the last two games.

Barcelona vs Partizan Belgrade (14 March, 21:30 EET)

The Catalan giant has won the last eight meetings against Partizan and has never lost to them at home. Well, there’s always a first time…

Of course, Partizan will fight regardless on Thursday, but their performance in recent games has been poor. In general, they have been kept afloat by the performances of Aleksa Avramović, but the Serbian guard isn’t quite at the level to carry Partizan every night. Moreover, the club coached by the legendary Željko Obradović has lost their last seven away games in the EuroLeague.

However, Partizan received good news on Monday when forward James Nunnally, who had been struggling with a shoulder injury, returned to the court in the Adriatic League. His level and experience are crucial for the Serbian club, but Nunnally’s return likely means that Avramović won’t get as many shots.

Partizan’s biggest weakness is containing opponents’ big men. Barcelona can deploy two strong offensive centers in Willy Hernangomez and Jan Vesely, with Vesely averaging 20 points in the last two games while shooting an incredible 94% from the field! Additionally, the Czech player has grabbed 6.5 rebounds per game.

Source: Luca Sgamellotti/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

ASVEL Villeurbanne vs Anadolu Efes Istanbul (15 March, 21:00 EET)

Although Efes has won ten out of the last 11 games against ASVEL, the last four meetings have ended with an average difference of four points. And even though ASVEL is second to last in the standings this season, they are still dangerous opponents.

This is evidenced by the fact that they have won three out of their last five home games. These victories came against Milano, Zvezda, and Zalgiris, who are essentially in the same position as Efes in the standings. By the way, the Turkish club has lost seven consecutive away games.

ASVEL is made more dangerous by the fact that Paris Lee, one of the team’s leaders who missed the last game due to illness, is back on the court against Efes. Also, Nando de Colo has found good form, averaging 14 points, 4.5 assists, and four steals in the last two games.

One cannot overlook the fact that although Efes is very strong offensively, they are one of the weakest defensive teams. However, they have Shane Larkin, one of the best players in the EuroLeague, who will surely cause ASVEL a lot of trouble, but perhaps Lee can slow him down somewhat.

By the way, in the last two rounds, an average of 104 points has been scored against ASVEL, with 28 assists given, indicating that their defense has been simply awful.

Bayern Munich vs Zalgiris Kaunas (15 March, 21:30 EET)

Bayern has won three games in a row against Zalgiris, but historically, the clashes between these clubs have ended with close results. Considering the current season, it should be the same this Friday as well.

The key to Zalgiris is point guard Keenan Evans. The American has scored at least 18 points in eight of the last ten EuroLeague games, but for example, Maccabi managed to take him out of the game in the fourth quarter in the previous round.

The Lithuanian club has done very well in controlling the rebound battle in the last two rounds, as they have allowed an average of only 25.5 rebounds against them, which is by far the best statistic in the league. Bayern is a difficult test for them in this regard, as led by Serge Ibaka and Devin Booker, the German team has been very strong on the boards throughout the season.

Rebounding is even more important because Zalgiris has had problems stopping opponents’ big men. Ibaka and Booker are in good form, and head coach Pablo Laso will surely give them plenty of plays to cause trouble for Zalgiris.

Source: Eitvydas Kinaitis/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Virtus Bologna vs Real Madrid (15 March, 21:30 EET)

Is Real in crisis? Head coach Chus Mateo doesn’t see the situation in such dark tones, but three consecutive losses in the EuroLeague inevitably raise eyebrows. Especially for a club that has been overall formidable this season.

Although Virtus has dropped out of the top three in the standings and faces a bitter struggle for a direct ticket to the quarterfinals, it’s a dangerous game for Real, as Virtus has only lost two out of 14 games in Bologna this season.

Moreover, Fenerbahçe showed in the previous round how to break Real down. If Virtus manages to control the rebound battle, Mateo’s men won’t be able to push the tempo, but Virtus can, and in any case, it’s easier to score points against Real from fast breaks or transition offense than from a five-on-five game.

Fenerbahçe’s success had two more important aspects: Real was deprived of three-pointers as they made only 14 attempts and scored just two. In addition, centers Walter Tavares and Vincent Poirier were often pulled away from the paint on defense, which significantly weakened Real’s ability to get stops.

If Fenerbahçe has two dangerous centers from beyond the arc, then Virtus has one – Jordan Mickey. If the Italian club manages to spread the court with his help, Virtus’s chances immediately become much better.


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