Game Center: Playoff picture mostly clear!
After a wild playoffs race, the results of the 34th and final full round of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season have left the postseason picture almost complete. Three pairs of series opponents were decided, but a fourth must wait for a rescheduled game on Monday to determine the final playoffs qualifier. When the dust settled, Real Madrid (20-14) became the penultimate qualifier on Thursday by defeating host Fenerbahce (20-14) and winning their tie-break. Real will play third-place Efes (22-12), a road loser at Milan (21-13), in the playoffs. Milan will host Game 1 against Bayern (21-13) for having beaten the German playoff newcomers twice. Fenerbahce will be paired with CSKA (23-10), which won at home over ASVEL to clinch second place. Bayern finished the regular season toppling first-place Barcelona (24-10), which is still waiting to know its playoffs opponent. Zenit St Petersburg won at home against Maccabi to move to 19-14, tied on victories with Valencia (19-15). Zenit plays its last game, a rescheduled Round 6 home date with Panathinaikos (11-21) on Monday. If Zenit wins, it will advance to play Barcelona in the playoffs. If Zenit loses, that privilege goes to Valencia. The playoffs are due to begin on Tuesday, April 20.
CSKA Moscow 88-70 LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
CSKA Moscow finished second in the 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by downing LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 88-70 at home in Megasport Arena on Thursday. CSKA improved to 23-10 in the standings, registered its fifth consecutive victory, and clinched second place due to its potential tie-break advantage against Anadolu Efes Istanbul (1-1, +5), which ranks third at 22-11. ASVEL finished its EuroLeague campaign with a 13-21 record. Iffe Lundberg led the winners with 23 points. Michael Eric added 21 points and Johannes Voigtmann 13 for CSKA. Guerschon Yabusele led ASVEL with 23 points while Norris Cole added 15. CSKA was up 18-15 after 10 minutes and extended its lead to 39-26 shortly before halftime. ASVEL got within 42-36 at the break and took a 56-60 lead at the end of the third quarter. Lundberg, Eric, and Daniel Hackett combined for all points in an 18-0 run that sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Zalgiris Kaunas 93-78 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
Zalgiris Kaunas never trailed in taking care of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 93-78 on Thursday night at Zalgirio Arena. A 14-0 run early in the second half helped the Lithuanian champs pull away for good and the lead reached 24 in the fourth quarter as Zalgiris cruised to victory. The result gave Zalgiris a 17-17 record at the end of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season. Panathinaikos dropped to 11-21 and still has two games remaining. Lukas Lekavicius paced the Zalgiris scorers with 20 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, Thomas Walkup tallied 18 points and 5 assists and Rokas Jokubaitis added 10 points. Nemanja Nedovic scored 17 points and Ben Bentil 13 for Panathinaikos in defeat.
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 67-93 Real Madrid
Real Madrid marched into the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs with an outstanding performance to beat Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 67-93 on Thursday. The visitors dominated the early stages, leading by as much as 7-23 towards the end of the first quarter. The gap grew to 20 points in the second quarter and although Fener initially fought back after the break – getting as close as 50-58 – Real pulled away again to cruise home. Nico Laprovittola led Real with a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists, while Fabien Causeur poured in 20 points and Gabriel Deck scored 19. Nando De Colo offered the chief resistance for the home team, scoring 23 points. Lorenzo Brown, with 16 points, was the only other Fenerbahce player to score in double figures. Both teams finished with 20-14 records, with Real taking the tiebreaker after winning both games against Fenerbahce.
ALBA Berlin 81-58 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
ALBA Berlin finished its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season on a high note as it defeated Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 81-58 at home. Peyton Siva collected 17 points and 8 assists to lead ALBA, which snapped a four-game losing streak for a 12-22 final record. Simone Fontecchio chipped in 13 points, Marcus Eriksson had 12 points and Jayson Granger added 8 assists for the winning side. Marko Simonovic scored 12 points to lead Zvezda, which finished second-to-last in the standings, one spot behind ALBA at 10-24. Jordan Loyd tallied 10 points and Landry Nnoko picked up 7 points and 11 rebounds against his former team.
Valencia Basket 86-81 TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
In a do-or-die battle for both teams to stay in the race for Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs, Valencia Basket kept its chances alive by downing TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 86-81 at La Fonteta on Thursday. Valencia finished the regular season with a 19-15 record and now must get some help from others to qualify for the playoffs. Baskonia finished with an 18-16 record in 10th place. Derrick Williams led the winners with 16 points, Klemen Prepelic added 14, Mike Tobey 13, Nikola Kalinic 12 and Bojan Dubljevic 11 for Valencia. Pierria Henry paced Baskonia with 19 points, Rokas Giedraitis added 17, Achille Polonara 16 and Zoran Dragic had 10 for the guests. Kalinic and Williams helped Valencia to a 25-21 lead after 10 minutes. Behind Henry and Giedraitis, Baskonia led 39-44 at halftime. A wild three-pointer by Prepelic put the hosts ahead, 60-59, at the end of the third quarter. It all came down to the final minutes, in which a three-point play by Tobey and free throws by Williams sealed the outcome.
Zenit St Petersburg 86-69 Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
Zenit St Petersburg will continue fighting to reach the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs for the first time in club history after handily downing Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 86-69 at home on Friday. Zenit raised its record to 19-14 to move into the eighth and final playoffs place ahead of Valencia Basket (19-15). Due to a tie-break disadvantage against Valencia, however, Zenit must win again in a rescheduled Round 6 game against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Monday or be eliminated. Zenit never trailed against Maccabi, turning a 44-37 halftime lead to 66-48 thanks to a 14-2 run in the third quarter. Austin Hollins led five double-digit Zenit scorers with 15 points. Kevin Pangos added 13 points, Will Thomas and Tarik Black 11 each, and Mateusz Ponitka 10. Zenit's defense took 9 steals and forced 16 turnovers on Maccabi, which got 15 points from Tyler Dorsey and 11 from Chris Jones.
Olympiacos Piraeus 82-75 Khimki Moscow Region
Olympiacos Piraeus finished the 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season in style by downing Khimki Moscow Region 82-75 at home on Friday. Olympiacos finished 12th overall with a 16-18 record after recording its fifth win in seven games. Khimki finished the 2020-21 season at the bottom of the standings with a 4-30 record. Sasha Vezenkov led the winners with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Georgios Printezis added 14 points and Octavius Ellis 11 while Vasilis Charalampopoulos, Kosta Koufos and Shaquielle McKissic each scored 10 for Olympiacos. Errick McCollum led Khimki with 17 points. Egor Vialtsev added 14 and Sergey Karasev 12. Olympiacos led 24-18 after 10 minutes but Khimki rallied to get a 37-41 margin on a three-pointer by Anton Ponkrashov. Olympiacos regained a 42-41 edge at the break, extending that to 63-55 after three quarters and then again to 79-66 to seal the outcome way before the final buzzer.
AX Armani Exchange Milan 98-75 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
In a regular season finale for two playoff-bound teams, AX Armani Exchange Milan rose to the challenge and downed Anadolu Efes Istanbul 98-75 to clinch fourth place in the standings and lock up home-court playoff advantage on Friday night. Milan opened a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter and never allowed Efes closer than 7 points the rest of the night, making sure it will open the playoffs on its home floor. Shavon Shields led Milan with 19 points and Kevin Punter scored 18. Zach LeDay added 15 points, while Vladimir Micov and Jeremy Evens had 10 apiece. Rodrigue Beaubois had 15 points for Efes, Chris Singleton scored 12 and Tibor Pleiss added 11 in a defeat.
FC Barcelona 72-82 FC Bayern Munich
FC Bayern Munich claimed a solid 72-82 victory over FC Barcelona at Palau Blaugrana on Friday night to earn fifth place in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague standings at the end of the regular season. The visitors never trailed as they built a 22-29 first-quarter lead resisted all of Barcelona's comeback attempts. Bayern, whose record improved to 21-13, was led by Jalen Reynolds, who scored career-high 26 points on 13-of-17 two-point shooting, grabbed 5 boards and added 3 steals in just 25 minutes against his former team. He was followed by Wade Baldwin IV, who tallied 18 points and 6 assists, and Vladimir Lucic, who contributed 14 points for the winners. Leo Westermann and Leandro Bolmaro paced the hosts with 12 points apiece, while Brandon Davies chipped in 11 in the losing effort. Barcelona dropped to 24-10 but had already secured the first place. Club and European basketball legend Pau Gasol started in his first game back with the team after 20 years. He scored 9 points and pulled 4 boards in 13 minutes on the floor.
Playoffs will be played from April 20 to May 5, 2021.
Eight teams will play best-of-five-series.
Series winners will advance to the Final Four.