Round One of the 2019 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball playoffs are almost done. We’re now looking ahead at the 2019 Euroleague Final Four which will be held at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain.
Right now, three teams have already won their first-round playoff series. These teams have booked themselves a spot in the 2019 Euroleague Final Four which will run from May 17-19, 2019. Defending champions Real Madrid were the first to clinch a Final Four berth with a 3-0 sweep of Greek ballclub Panathinaikos. Then the #1 and #2 seeds in Fenerbahce Istanbul and CSKA Moscow joined Real Madrid after winning their Round 4 assignments. The three will now await the winner of the Anadolu Efes vs Barcelona series which will go to a Game 5 on May 1, 2019.
With that, the championship fever is in the air and here are the odds to win the 2019 Euroleague title. Odds taken from betway as of 4/2/19:
|Anadolu Efes Istanbul||+900|
|FC Barcelona Lassa||+1100|
2019 Euroleague Final Four
After losing Game 2 80-82 to Zalgiris, Fenerbahce Istanbul closed out the series with back to back victories on the road, in Lithuania. In Game 4, the Turkish team hammered out a convincing 99-82 win at the Zalgirio Arena to make its entrance to the 2019 Euroleague Final Four.
Fenerbahce established a 17-point lead in the first quarter, the biggest advantage enjoyed by a road team in the Euroleague playoffs this century. Ali Muhammed scored 25 points and established a personal-high 32 PIR. Fenerbahce’s 49 points at the half was a club playoff record while their 99 points scored in the entire game was the highest output for a road team in the Euroleague playoffs.
They also shot 15-22 from behind the three-point line, a club record for most three-pointers made in the postseason. Fenerbahce also issued another club playoff record of 24 assists in the game as Kostas Sloukas had 10 assists along with 15 points. Sloukas also became the sixth player to record three double-doubles in the playoffs and the first to do so with points and assists.
The win was Fenerbahce’s 28th victory of the season, the most by any team in a single season. They will be making their fifth straight Final Four appearance, 2nd longest since CSKA Moscow made eight in a row from 2003-2010. With the way their offense has been rolling, Fenerbahce Istanbul is, without doubt, the team to beat. Next up for them is the winner between Anadolu Efes and FC Barcelona Lassa who need a fifth game to decide who advances to the Final Four.
CSKA Moscow Advanced to the Euroleague Final Four for the 17th time in 18 seasons. The Russian team also closed out their first-round playoff series in four games, winning 92-83 on the road. Veteran guard Nando De Colo led CSKA’s come from behind victory with 27 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals (tied career high) for a PIR of 35 points. De Colo won Playoffs Game 4 MVP honors with his effort, the 15th time in his illustrious career he’s been named Playoff round MVP.
De Colo also had the third-best PIR in Game 3 with 32 as he put up 28 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in leading CSKA to an 84-77 victory over Kirolbet Basconia. Remember that in 2016, De Colo was the Euroleague MVP and the Euroleague Final Four MVP and CSKA won the title that season. With De Colo heating up again in the last two games, there’s a reason to fear CSKA heading to the Final Four showdown with the defending champions Real Madrid.
Defending champions Real Madrid produced the only sweep in the first round of the Euroleague playoffs. The Spanish club blanked Panathinaikos 3-0 in their series to advance to the Final Four. Real Madrid won Game 3 of the series 89-82 behind 16 points and 10 assists from Facundo Campazzo. Campazzo notched a PIR of 29 while becoming only the third player in Round 3 to put up a double-double and the only one to do so with points and assists.
The Real Madrid offense has been averaging 80.66 points per game behind Campazzo who leads the playoffs with 8.3 assists per game. The 28-year old Argentinian is also the playoff leader in steals with 3.0 per game. With Campazzo running the offense like a well-oiled machine, the defending champions look to repeat over CSKA in the semifinals. However, they will have to replicate their 2018 win without Luka Doncic.
The 4th Final Four team has yet to be decided after Barcelona forced a deciding 5th game against Anadolu Efes. The Spanish ballclub lost 68-102 in Game 3, one of the most lopsided home losses in Euroleague playoff history. But they regrouped and fought back to win Game 4 82-72. Barcelona forced 14 turnovers and limited Anadolu Efes to 13 assists in Game 4 while out-rebounding the Turkish team 37-28. Barcelona also allowed 17 less two-point baskets in Game 4 as their defense was the key to victory. Victor Claver was the top rebounder in Round 4 with 8 boards. Claver also scored 8 points, issued 4 assists and came up with one steal for a PIR of 20.
Despite the loss, Anadolu Efes’ will go back to their home court in Game 5 to try and secure a spot at this year’s Euroleague Final Four. American Shane Larkin is the current playoffs top scorer at 20 points per game. Larkin was Round 3 MVP after going off with 30 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal for a PIR of 34 points. Larkin also had 20 points in a losing effort in Game 4 and he will need support from his teammates if they are to beat Barcelona in Game 5.
Top-seeded Fenerbahce Istanbul has the easiest route to the championship because they will play the winner between 4th seeded Anadolu Efes and 5th seeded Barcelona. No question that the rematch between 2018 Final Four opponents CSKA Moscow and defending champions Real Madrid is going to be the more difficult game to win.
Although the Final 4 contest is still slated for May 17th, Anadolu and Barcelona will still have to play on May 1. There is still more than enough time to rest and draw up a game plan. Considering Fenerbahce is already waiting, they have the luxury of having more rest. Fenerbahce’s top rival should be CSKA who is riding Nando de Colo’s hot hand. If CSKA beats Real Madrid, they will be tough to beat in the finals. However, I think Fenerbahce has more depth overall and their offense looks unstoppable right now.
Prediction: Fenerbahce Istanbul