Real Madrid showed character and focus in Game 1 to survive a Panathinaikos OPAP Athens comeback, but the Greens also demonstrated they can play under pressure away from home. The home-court factor helped Madrid this time and Los Blancos will look to make good use of it again before the series travels to Athens for Game 3.
Game 1 recap
Real Madrid held off a stirring comeback from Panathinaikos OPAP Athens to record a thrilling 75-72 home victory in the opening game of their playoffs series. Madrid was in front nearly all night and led by 14 early in the third quarter, but the Greens did not give up and roared in front 66-72 with 4 minutes left. Jeffery Taylor paced the winners with 13 points, Fabien Causeur scored 12. Nick Calathes recovered from a slow start to lead all scorers with 17 points for the Greens.
Jeffery Taylor and DeShaun Thomas had their moments of protagonism in the opening game and many eyes will be on them again to see how they fare in this next round in the series. Taylor led Madrid with his 13 points while Thomas helped the Greens with 12 points but missed the shot that could have sent the game to overtime.
Keys to victory: Real Madrid
The hosts won the first game by the skin of their teeth but if one good thing comes out of that win is that now the team knows they can handle playoffs pressure. Panathinaikos had a solid 9 of 20 form the arc, so Madrid will have to watch for those open shots from long range, as well as the rebounds, as the guests managed to win the battle under the glass 38-39.
Keys to victory: Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos was on the verge of upsetting the defending champs in Madrid, and that's a good sign for future games. The problem for the Greens was that Madrid was consisten from the free throws line with 19 of 22 attempts, and in such close games, that is a huge factor. Also, Panathinaikos has the best passer in the league in Nick Calathes and got stuck at 10 assists, the third lowest mark for the team this season.