This matchup between EuroLeague heavyweights CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul will ensure that the Final Four will be played without both of these teams for the first time since 2014.
This matchup between EuroLeague heavyweights will ensure that the Final Four will be played without both of these teams for the first time since 2014. Both CSKA and Fenerbahce have been to every Final Four since and at least one of them has played in each of the last four championship games. CSKA bested Fenerbahce 80-86 in the 2015 third-place game behind 17 points from Nando De Colo. The stakes were much higher a year later in the championship game. Victor Khryapa's tip-in with 1.9 seconds remaining forced overtime and De Colo scored 10 of his 22 points in the extra session as CSKA prevailed 96-101.
Since that monumental 2016 championship game, the teams have played nine times and the road team has won five of them, including both clashes this season. CSKA leads the head-to-head standings between them 20-9, but Fenerbahce has won in three of its last five trips to Moscow. They also met once before in the playoffs. In 2005, CSKA swept the club then know as Ulker in a best-of-three series.
Earlier this season
Of the four playoff series, the three highest-scoring single-game outputs by players this season against the team they will meet in the playoffs have come from the series. Will Clyburn scored a season-high 26 points to lead CSKA to a 77-78 road win in Round 3. When they met in Round 21, Fenerbahce center Jan Vesely went off for 24 points and Nando De Colo added 22 in an 83-89 victory. No player in any other series scored more than 21 against his playoff opponent in the regular season.
De Colo and his teammate Jarell Eddie put up monster numbers this season against CSKA. De Colo averaged 21.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals for a PIR of 28.0. He made 14 of 17 two-pointers. Eddie averaged 17.5 points on 9-of-11 three-point shooting in his two appearances against CSKA this season. Against the other 16 EuroLeague teams, Eddie averaged 5.3 points on 35-of-87 three-point shooting (40.2%).
Key midseason additions
Few teams are as reliant on mid-season additions as these two. With injuries causing lineup inconsistencies during the season, CSKA was forced to strengthen its lineup and signed center Michael Eric and guard Iffe Lundberg. Eric moved into CSKA's starting lineup and posted performance index ratings in double figures in four of the team's final five games in the regular season. Lundberg made his first start in the regular-season finale and averaged 19.3 points in his last three games.
Fenerbahce's entire season changed with the arrival of Marko Guduric. The team was 15-4 after he arrived and 11-1 when he scored in double figures! His combination of elite outside shooting, game smarts and team play helped put Fenerbahce on the winning path. Alex Perez also signed during the season to bolster the backcourt, while Kyle O'Quinn arrived at center and because of the injury to Jan Vesely, O'Quinn could have a major role in the playoffs. In a show that he was ready, O'Quinn averaged 9.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 block in his last three games.
Both teams have a few guys who will feel comfortable when landing in the opponent's city. Will Clyburn and Michael Eric of CSKA each played in Istanbul for Darussafaka. Clyburn spent the 2016-17 campaign there, his first in the EuroLeague. Eric helped Darussafaka win the 7DAYS EuroCup in 2018 and made his EuroLeague debut there the next season. Fenerbahce's Nando De Colo can show his teammates around Moscow with ease since he spent five years in the Russian capital playing for CSKA, between 2014 and 2019. He helped CSKA win the EuroLeague in 2016 and 2019 and was the 2016 EuroLeague MVP.
The two longest winning streaks of the season were authored by the protagonists in this series. CSKA had the longest of the season with 12 consecutive victories, encompassing all of November and December. It started with a Round 6 triumph over Valencia Basket and ran until the first game of 2021, when CSKA lost at TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. CSKA won half of those games at home and its six road wins came in Athens, Kaunas, Munich, Moscow Region, Villeurbanne and Milan. Only three of those wins came by double-digit margins.
Fenerbahce took off in Round 16 and reeled off 10 consecutive victories. The streak started with a victory over Olympiacos Piraeus and lasted until it stumbled at home against Anadolu Efes Istanbul. In between, Fenerbahce won four games by at least 20 points. Seven of its wins were at home with the three road victories coming in Belgrade, Moscow and Moscow Region.