It’s not just the NBA playoffs that have already begun. The 2019 Euroleague playoffs have also started and with that, it only means that the 2019 Euroleague Final Four which will crown the 2019 Euroleague champions is also drawing near.
So far, the eight remaining Euroleague teams have played two playoff games each with the next set of games to be played on April 23 and 24, 2019. Here is where we stand so far in the 2019 Euroleague playoffs or the Road to the Euroleague Final Four:
|Team 1||Series||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg||3rd leg||4th leg||5th leg|
|(1)Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul||1-1||(8)Zalgiris||76-43||80-82||23-Apr||25-Apr||30-Apr|
|(2)CSKA Moscow||1-1||(7)Kirolbet Baskonia||94-68||68-78||24-Apr||26-Apr||1-May|
|(3)Real Madrid BC||2-0||(6)Panathinaikos||75-72||78-63||23-Apr||25-Apr||30-Apr|
|(4)Anadolu Efes||1-1||(5)Barcelona Lassa||75-68||72-74||24-Apr||26-Apt||1-May|
The winner between #1 and #8 will face the winner between #4 and #5 while the victors of # and #7 will square off with the victors of #3 and #6 to determine the Euroleague Final Four bracketing. The 2019 Euroleague Final Four will be held on May 17 at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain. The championship game and the battle for third will be held on May 19, 2019 at the same venue.
Who Are The Favorites?
Here are the odds to win the 2019 Euroleague Championship. Odds taken from Bet365 as of 4/22/19:
|Real Madrid BC||+320|
|Anadolu Efes Istanbul||+1200|
|FC Barcelona Lassa||+1800|
|Laboral Kutxa Basconia||+3000|
|EA7 Emporio Armani Milano||+3500|
Obviously, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and EA7 Emporio Armani Milano are out of the equation here because they didn’t make the playoffs. Now there are only 8 teams left in contention and after two stages ( Game 2) of the 2019 Euroleague Playoffs, any team still has a chance at winning the 2019 Euroleague championship.
After all the Top 4 seeds won at their respective home floors in Game 1, three of the bottom 4 seeds stole home court advantage and won in Game 2. Zalgiris and Barcelona won their respective Game 2’s by a single basket while Baskonia upset CSKA Moscow by 10 points in their Stage 2 encounter. But while the series between 1&8, 2&7 and 4&5 are tied at one game apiece, defending Euroleague Champions Real Madrid BC has flexed its might and taken a 2-0 series lead over Panathinaikos and put the Greek basketball club on the brink of elimination.
Remember that last year, Real Madrid denied Fenerbahce back-to-back titles and took the Euroleague trophy back to the Spanish capital for the 10th time in team history. Real Madrid’s 85-80 win in the Euroleague championship game completed an impressive Final Four run where they defeated top-seeded CSKA Moscow 92-83 in their Final Four game.
Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid are the Top 3 teams in the Euroleague this season and are the Top 3 seeds in the playoffs. These three teams were also in the Final 4 last season (along with Zalgiris) so no question, they are the best teams in the Euroleague. But when you look at all three teams, all have kept the core of the teams which took them to the Final Four last season. In fact, Fenerbahce and CSKA Moscow have almost brought back an identical roster. However, while you can technically say that Real Madrid also brought back most of their key players, they are missing one key player: Luka Doncic.
Doncic was drafted third overall in the NBA last year and spent this past season playing for the Dallas Mavericks. While Doncic may be just one loss, remember that he scored 18 and 17 in their two Final Four games last season and was adjudged as Euroleague Final Four MVP. So that’s a huge loss for Real Madrid although Anthony Randolph has taken over nicely as their top scorer this year and the Spanish team still has plenty of depth on that roster.
Real Madrid’s road to repeating as champions will have to pass through CSKA Moscow because these two will face each other in the Final Four if they go on to win their respective playoff series. Fenerbahce, meanwhile, will have an “easier” route with Anadolu Efes or Barcelona as their next opponent if they make it past this current round.
I’m not underestimating Real Madrid’s powers here. Not with Randolph, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Lull, Walter Tavares and Gustavo Ayon who have tons of experience, including playing in the NBA. Sure, they lost their main man in Doncic, but they still have plenty of firepower left.
On the other hand, CSKA has veteran Nando de Colo who led Moscow to the 2016 title while winning Euroleague MVP and Final Four MVP. CSKA also has Spanish guard and NBA veteran Sergio Rodriguez, undrafted NBA prospect Will Clyburn and the son of former NBA player Rod Higgins, Cory Higgins. Big men Othello Hunter and Kyle Hines are also key contributors for CSKA.
Fenerbahce is led by 2011 NBA Draft 6th pick Jan Vesely. The seven-foot Czech is a two-time All-Euroleague First team member. The Turkish club also has three-time Euroleague champion guard Kostas Sloukas and forward Nikola Kalinic who was the top scorer in the 2017 Euroleague Finals. 2017 Serbian Cup MVP Marko Guduric is also a key contributor along with 2016 Euroleague All-Second Team selection Luigi Datome. Guduric and Datome each made 44 three pointers this season.
When it comes down to form, health and roster composition, I think Fenerbahce has the best team in the current Euroleague playoffs and as such, I believe that they have the best chance of regaining the Euroleague championship. Their path to the championship game is also easier because CSKA and Real Madrid will have to face each other in the Final Four. That’s key in betting because if you’re betting on multiple teams, remember that only one of CSKW and Real Madrid are making it to the Finals. So take note of that.
Right now, based on the first couple of game of the 2019 Euroleague playoffs, I like the way Real Madrid has been playing. But I’m not sure they are going to beat CSKA in the Final Four. Sergio Lull missed Game 1 with a hamstring injury and I’m not sure what is his exact state of health but if he isn’t 100%, that’s another blow for the champs. As for CSKA, I think they are going to give Fenerbahce a good game in the Finals but I will give a slight edge to the Turkish team because I like how they are playing right now.
Prediction: Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul