Will Clyburn, the forward for Anadolu Efes Istanbul, is a great offensive player who has been in great form in recent weeks. Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Will Clyburn, the forward for Anadolu Efes Istanbul, is a great offensive player who has been in great form in recent weeks. Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

EuroLeague Round 34: What to expect and who to watch?

Basketball OlyBet 10.04.2024

Round 34 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 dive into our preview of the round!

Zalgiris Kaunas vs Real Madrid (11 April, 20:00 EET)

Since Zalgiris won’t make it to the play-in and Real has secured the top spot in the regular season, one might think that the Madrid club would give rest to several key players, as they have done earlier this season. However, Real’s situation isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, as they lost to Baskonia in the EuroLeague last week and to Barcelona in the domestic league. Therefore, they will definitely seek to regain their rhythm before the playoffs, and how can they do that when several important pieces are sidelined?

It’s clear that Zalgiris wants to end the regular season on a high note with a sweet victory. They have won three out of the last four battles against Real in Kaunas, and since Andrea Trinchieri took over as head coach, they have won seven out of eight home games in the league.

Against Real, Zalgiris has the opportunity to make history, as Los Blancos have allowed at least 90 points in the last two rounds. Throughout the entire history of the EuroLeague, there hasn’t been a time when Real conceded 90 or more points in three consecutive matches.

Moreover, Real has faced considerable difficulties in the last four games when it comes to defending opponents’ three-point shots. They have allowed an average of 28.8 three-pointers per game, which is the third-worst in the league. On the other hand, Zalgiris is one of the league’s best teams from beyond the arc, as only Fenerbahce Istanbul has a better three-point shooting percentage this season.

Zalgiris’ chances are made more difficult by the fact that one of their best defenders, forward Arnas Butkevičius, will miss the game due to an ankle injury. Perhaps this will give Real’s forwards an easier time.

Source: Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Monaco vs Bayern Munich (11 April, 20:00 EET)

Bayern has nothing at stake in the final round of the regular season, but Monaco does. A victory would secure, at worst, the third position in the standings, but a loss could potentially drop them out of the top four. This would be particularly painful as it means losing the home-court advantage in the quarterfinals.

However, Monaco has reasons to approach the game confidently. They have never lost to Bayern in the EuroLeague, although the last three encounters have been closely contested, with the largest margin being just five points.

Adding to the optimism is the fact that Monaco is in fantastic form. They have won a staggering 11 out of their last 12 EuroLeague games. In contrast, Bayern is on a four-game losing streak, although they haven’t lost more than four consecutive games this season. Well, there’s always a first time…

Monaco’s leader, Mike James, has been slightly below his usual standards in recent weeks, not being particularly effective on offense. However, he has always scored double-digit points and has done so in 33 consecutive EuroLeague games.

For Bayern, Nick Weiler-Babb has emerged towards the end of the regular season. The German national team player has displayed remarkable shooting percentages – 73% from the field and beyond the arc – averaging 16 points per game, in addition to being an excellent defensive player.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs Crvena Zvezda Belgrade (11 April, 20:30 EET)

For Zvezda, the EuroLeague season essentially reached its conclusion several rounds ago, but Efes is fighting for a play-in spot. The Turkish club is currently tenth, the last team to qualify for next week’s games.

A victory against Zvezda would be enough for Efes and would lift them to ninth in the standings. This is because Baskonia and Virtus Bologna, who are currently ahead of them with one win, face each other. If they end up tied, Istanbul’s team would surpass either of them due to the head-to-head advantage.

Efes has hit very good form towards the end of the regular season, winning four consecutive games. Their success is primarily built on the significantly improved defense compared to the first half of the season, although they have been somewhat worse on offense.

On the other hand, Zvezda is in poor form, with their last away victory in the EuroLeague dating back to January 11th, almost three months ago! However, the Serbian club hasn’t completely fallen apart, as they put up a good fight in their last two games against top clubs Olympiacos and Real.

For Zvezda, the main focus should be on Will Clyburn. He considers himself the best small forward in the EuroLeague, but his performance in the first half of the season was modest due to various problems. However, in the last two games, Efes’ forward has averaged 20.5 points per game, and he has been fouled an average of 7.5 times in an attempt to stop him.

Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Milan (11 April, 21:05 EET)

Maccabi has secured the seventh position, thus having the highest seeding in the play-in. Milan, on the other hand, dreams of making it to the play-in, but to do so, they need to defeat the Israeli club and hope that both Efes and Partizan Belgrade lose at home. Therefore, their chance of breaking into the top ten is very slim.

Complicating matters further is the fact that Maccabi has won six out of their last seven games, with their only loss coming against Barcelona in a game where Nicolas Laprovittola hit a long three-pointer in the final seconds for the win.

Moreover, Milan’s away record is poor. They have won only one out of their last eight away games, totaling a whopping 13 away losses this season, which equals the club’s worst record.

To defeat Maccabi, Milan will need another strong performance from their biggest star, Nikola Mirotić. The power forward has been in superb form towards the end of the regular season, averaging 19.1 points in the last seven games while shooting 59% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. During this time, he has also grabbed 6.3 rebounds per game.

Looking at the last seven games, right behind Mirotić is Maccabi’s leader, Wade Baldwin. He has averaged 18.6 points, and although the American hasn’t been hugely efficient on offense, he is one of the top players in the EuroLeague, and stopping him will certainly be a key for Milan.

Panathinaikos Athens vs ALBA Berlin (11 April, 21:15 EET)

A game where words are actually unnecessary. The scales are best summed up by the fact that while the bottom-ranked ALBA is currently on a ten-game losing streak, Panathinaikos, in contrast, is second and has won a staggering 12 out of their last 13 home games. An ALBA victory would truly be an eighth wonder of the world!

Olympiacos vs Fenerbahce Istanbul (12 April, 21:15 EET)

In Greece, the fifth and sixth teams in the standings, of which Fenerbahce has nothing at stake in terms of the rankings, will face off. They cannot rise to the top four or drop to seventh, so their place in the quarterfinals is secure, as is the fact that they won’t have home-court advantage there.

However, Olympiacos has a chance to break into the top four. True, it’s not very likely, as Georgios Bartzokas’ team needs to defeat Fenerbahce and hope that Panathinaikos loses to ALBA.
Friday night promises a very close battle, as Fenerbahce won the first encounter at home by just two points, and both teams are currently in good form. Olympiacos has the advantage of having won their last seven home games, while Fenerbahce has lost four out of their last six away games.

Looking at the statistics, Fenerbahce has been the best defensive team in the EuroLeague over the last four rounds. However, last week’s battle with Efes showed that if the opponent applies a lot of defensive pressure on them, childish mistakes creep into their offense.

At the same time, Olympiacos has had a very clear weakness: rebounding. They have been poor on both defensive and offensive boards, and Fenerbahce will certainly look to exploit this, as they have many good rebounders in their squad.

Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Partizan Belgrade vs Valencia (12 April, 21:30 EET)

Valencia suffered a humiliating defeat at home last week against ASVEL Villeurbanne, leading to the dismissal of head coach Alex Mumbru. Until the end of the season, the team will be led by his assistant Xavi Albert, who guided them to victory against Baskonia in his first match at the helm in the weekend’s Spanish league game.

The loss to ASVEL dashed Valencia’s hopes of making it to the play-in, but Partizan still holds onto theirs. To climb to tenth place, they need a win in the final round, and they also need to root for their arch-rivals Zvezda, who must help Partizan by defeating Efes.

Partizan won the first encounter between the two teams in Spain by five points, and although Valencia has lost seven of their last eight EuroLeague games, they are likely much hungrier and better under the guidance of the new coach than they were under Mumbru.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the backcourt leaders shine on Friday night. Partizan’s Kevin Punter has scored at least 15 points in the last four games, while Valencia’s star Chris Jones has scored 15 or more points in five of the last seven games. By the way, in that Baskonia match, he scored a whopping 27 points, missing only four shots from the field.

It’s clear that Valencia will direct their offensive focus towards dismantling Partizan in the paint. In the last four games, the Serbian club has allowed opponents to shoot 59.9% from two-point range, which is the third-worst stat in the league. With Semi Ojeleye, Brandon Davies, and Damien Inglis, Valencia has a trio capable of causing trouble around the basket and its vicinity.

Virtus Bologna vs Baskonia (12 April, 21:30 EET)

In terms of the standings, it’s clear-cut: the winner of this game secures the eighth position. The loser risks dropping to tenth, but for that to happen, Efes must defeat Zvezda.

Honestly, neither team is in great form. Virtus has lost six consecutive EuroLeague matches, and Baskonia has won only one of their last five away games. That victory came against Real in the previous round, where Markus Howard shone with 35 points.

Former Baskonia player Tornike Shengelia, who had a great start to the season but struggled after that due to an injury, has regained his form towards the end of the regular season. In the last four games, the Georgian has averaged 21 points, missed only two free throws out of 25, and shot 53.8% from the field.

Virtus won the first encounter between the two teams away 91-81. Plenty of points can be expected in this round’s match as both teams have been among the worst defensively in the EuroLeague in their last four games.

Baskonia will suffer a blow if Vanja Marinković is sidelined. The Serbian is an important player for his club, but he missed the weekend Spanish league match against Valencia due to discomfort in his left leg. Virtus is eagerly awaiting the return of Isaia Cordinier, who last played on March 17th. The Frenchman has an ankle problem.

Source: Aitor Arrizabalaga/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

ASVEL Villeurbanne vs Barcelona (12 April, 22:00 EET)

Looking at the standings, there shouldn’t be any doubt about the winner: Barcelona is third, ASVEL is 17th, and there’s a whopping 14 victories separating the two clubs. But in reality, the French club is dangerous, especially on their home court.

ASVEL has won two out of their last three home games. Their only loss came against Monaco in Round 32, where they led until the middle of the fourth quarter, but then the representatives from the principality made a 17-3 run and ultimately won by ten points.

Furthermore, ASVEL comes into the game with great momentum, having thrashed Valencia 98-69 away in Round 33. Barcelona has lost two out of their last three away games, and their single win against Bayern was anything but easy.

Additionally, ASVEL will be strengthened against Barcelona, as one of their key players, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, missed the previous EuroLeague round but returned to the court on Sunday in the French league, scoring 18 points in 22 minutes.

Looking at the statistics of the last four games, both ASVEL and Barcelona have been below average both offensively and defensively. Therefore, a close battle can be expected!


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