This is a battle between two of the last three Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions. CSKA Moscow (15-5) leads the standings despite two losses in its last three games. Mike James (20.4 ppg., 5.9 apg.), Nikola Milutinov (9.4 ppg., 8.6 rpg.) and Darrun Hilliard (11.1 ppg.) are leading the team right now. Fenerbahce (10-10) is on a five-game winning streak, led by Nando De Colo (12.1 ppg.), Jan Vesely (11.8 ppg., 5.3 rpg.) and Marko Guduric (11.6 ppg., 4.0 apg.).
Vesely has had some of the best games of his career against CSKA. He had a career-high 31 points in a 93-95 overtime win against CSKA on November 17, 2017. He is playing well lately, too, averaging 14.4 points on 34-of-45 two-point shooting (75.6% 2FG) and a PIR of 21.0 in the last five games. Milutinov has recorded seven double-doubles this season, six of them in the last eight games. Milutinov and Vesely have played against each other for years, so expect a strong matchup that may well go down to details.
Earlier this season
In a thriller, CSKA edged Fenerbahce in overtime 77-78 in Round 3 on October 14. Will Clyburn, who is currently injured, led the winners with 26 points and James added 14 points and 6 assists for CSKA. De Colo paced Fenerbahce with 21 points before being ejected with 2 technical fouls. Jarell Eddie added 18 on 6-for-6 three-point shooting. Clyburn sent the game to the extra period with a three-pointer and also provided the go-ahead layup-plus-foul that allowed CSKA to win the game.
Keys to victory: CSKA
CSKA leads the EuroLeague in scoring at 84.6 points per game and in offensive rebounds (13.8 orpg.). It is struggling to score in the paint, however, as CSKA ranks 17th in two-point shooting (50.7%). Playing at a really high rhythm, with James running the show in transition and elite, mobile big men in Milutinov and Toko Shengelia should allow CSKA to find advantages everywhere. Stopping former CSKA star De Colo may be one of the biggest keys to this game.
Keys to victory: Fenerbahce
Fenerbahce has combined for 30 of 52 three-point shooting (57.7%) in its last two games. Adding a great scorer like Guduric has paid off right away, as all shooters - Eddie, De Colo, Lorenzo Brown, Melih Mahmutoglu - have found more space to pull the trigger. Stopping Milutinov should be a priority, and Fenerbahce relies on Vesely, Ahmey Duverioglu and Johnny Hamilton to do so. Brown and Alex Perez must be ready to play on-the-ball defense against James to prevent him from making the difference in this game.