The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs are set but it wasn’t until the 30th and final round did we complete the cast. Now that that the teams are ready and the schedule is ready, it’s time to play and find out who makes the 2019 Euroleague Final Four. The odds aren’t out yet but we will preview the matchups and pick the winners who will make up the 2019 Euroleague Final Four:
The playoffs begin on April 16th and will run until four teams win their best-of-five series. Check out the playoff schedule:
|Series||Team 1||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg||3rd leg||4th leg||5th leg|
|Series 1||Fenerbahçe Beko||Žalgiris||16-Apr||18-Apr||23-Apr||25-Apr||30-Apr|
|Series 2||CSKA Moscow||Kirolbet Baskonia||16-Apr||18-Apr||24-Apr||26-Apr||1-May|
|Series 3||Real Madrid||Panathinaikos OPAP||17-Apr||19-Apr||23-Apr||25-Apr||30-Apr|
|Series 4||Anadolu Efes||FC Barcelona Lassa||17-Apr||19-Apr||24-Apr||26-Apr||1-May|
Now let’s take a look at the matchups.
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul vs Zalgiris Kaunas
Fenerbahce topped the team standings with its 25-5 record and they head to the postseason as the top-ranked team. The team is shooting the ball at 59.0% from two point distance and it’s not just the best percentage in the league this season but the best since Real Madrid shot 59.2% of its two-point baskets in 2001-02. Fenerbahce also shot the three ball at a 43.2% accuracy this season which is the third best three-point shooting clip in Euroleague history. On the other end of the court, they had the best defense in the league, holding their opponents to a league-low 75.8 points per outing. They have made the Final Four in four straight seasons and the team is unbeaten at home this season.
Lithuanian champion Zalgiris enters the playoffs as the hottest team in the league with six consecutive victories to get here. During that streak, Zalgiris escaped elimination several times and won three times on the road. The strength of the team is the fact that many players from their Final Four squad last year are back. Euroleague April 2018 MVP Brandon Davies is the 4th leading scorer in the league with an average of 14.4 points per game while guard Marius Grigonis leads the league in free throw shooting (96.3%) and is fourth from the three ball at 49.2%.
Prediction: Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
CSKA Moscow vs Kirolbet Baskonia
CSKA had the second best record in the league at 24-6 and they enter the playoffs having won all but one of their final dozen games of the regular season including the last four. Coach Dimitris Itoudis’ boys have not lost a Euroleague playoff series under the current format and they are seeking their eight straight Euroleague Final Four appearance. As in the past, CSKA is one of the best offensive machines in league, averaging 86.8 points per game which is second best in the league. They are also ranked third in three point shooting percentage at 40%. Cory Higgins ranks 2nd in scoring at 14.9 points per game and also 2nd in three point percentage at 53.2%. Former MVP Nando De Colo is 6th in scoring at 14.0 points per game and Will Clyburn ranks 5th in performance index rating at 18.0. CSKA has lost just twice at home this season and will have home court advantage in the series.
Baskonia finished with a 15-15 record, 7th in the league. Despite losing three out of their last four games during the regular season, they booked a spot in the postseason by winning seven out of nine games from Round 18 to 26. Despite its low playoff ranking, Baskonia will have all the motivation to win because the venue of this year’s Final Four will be at their Fernando Buesa Arena. This is a team with balanced scoring as six players average at least nine points per game. Baskonia ranks third in the league in passing with 18.5 assists per game and is also #3 in offensive rebounding with 11.2 offensive boards per outing.
Prediction: CSKA Moscow
Real Madrid vs Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
Real Madrid is the defending champion and heads to the playoffs with the third best regular season record at 22-8. Real Madrid ranks 3rd in scoring at 85.9 points per game and they are also 4th in scoring defense at 78.1 points per game allowed. The Spanish club is the top passing team with 20.0 assists per game. Madrid also leads the league in rebounds at 36.9 boards per outing and they top all playoff teams with 2.9 blocks per game. The Los Blancos have 11 players who are playing at least 14 minutes apiece, giving them one of the most deep rotations in the postseason.
Panathinaikos rolled to the playoffs with seven wins in their last eight games with their only defeat during that period via a buzzer-beating three pointer from Real Madrid. Since Rick Pitino arrived, Athens won 10 of 16 games to finish with a record of 16-14 or #6 in the league. Nick Calathes is the team’s best players and he is ably supported by the likes of Georgios Papagiannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. This is the 9th consecutive playoff appearance but they have not reached the Final Four since 2012.
Prediction: Real Madrid
Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs FC Barcelona Lassa
Anadolu Efes finished the season 4th in the team standings with their 20-10 record. The team won four out of their last five games to advance to the quarterfinals for the third time in five seasons. The team is ranked 4th in the league in scoring at 85.4 points per game and #2 in passing at 19.9 assists per game. Efes is also second in field goal percentage and three point shooting at 58.9% and 40.7%. The team boasts of seven players scoring at least 8 points per game including four double-digit scorers led by Adrien Moerman who is scoring 12.3 points per game.
Barcelona finished behind Anadolu Efes at 5th place with their 18-12 record to advance to the postseason after a two-year absence. Barcelona was a streaky team this year with two five game winning streaks but also had a four-game slide this season as well. They are the lowest scoring playoff team at 79.4 points per game but their calling card has been their defense which allows the second fewest points this season at 79.0 points per game. 11 players on this team average at least 5 points per game, including six who are scoring at least eight markers per outing.
Prediction: Anadolu Efes