AFTER the first two games of the EuroLeague playoffs, only Real Madrid have built a 2-0 advantage on their own court to sit one win away from a spot in the Final Four.
But if the Spaniards are on the brink, the other three series currently level at 1-1 could hinge on the outcome of pivotal Game 3.
Perhaps the most unexpected road victory was Zalgiris Kaunas pinching one in Istanbul against regular season champions Fenerbahce to give themselves a shot with the clash moves to Lithuania on Tuesday.
The 82-80 win, sealed by Edgaras Ulanovas, was just a continuation of Zalgiris’ recent form as the Turks lost a first home game of the season and its first playoff game at home under head coach Zeljko Obradovic.
— Fenerbahçe Beko (@FBBasketbol) April 16, 2019
But don’t forget the series opener resulted in a 76-43 rout. The champions are still 1.50 favourites to rebound with a victory and 2.50 to retain their title. No longer are they resting as easy as before but any complacency will have been wiped away.
Ditto CSKA Moscow who were truly upset by Baskonia in Game 2. The Basque outfit, the Final Four hosts, have stumbled into the playoffs but their home form has been immense with an 8-1 record in 2019 by an average of 11 points.
The Russians have reached 15 of the last 16 Final Fours but a first playoff loss at home since 2008 has dropped them to 3.75 for the championship. And although Baskonia are 2.17 to claim a 2-1 lead, their offensive potency on their own court suggests it is worth a punt on going over 168 total points in Wednesday’s duel at 2.43.
Here is how it looks after 2 Games in each series…
— EuroLeague (@EuroLeague) April 19, 2019
Home form also favours FC Barcelona who are 12-3 at the Pala Blaugrana, including a current six-game winning streak. Snatching a 74-72 victory at Anadolu Efes Istanbul simply overturned Game 1 when they held their hosts to 75 but came up seven points short.
Efes lost 80-65 on their previous visit to Barca this season and although the best value may lie on taking the visitors at +3 at 2.20, the Catalan giants surely now have the upper hand.
As for Real Madrid, they will hope a 2-0 cushion over Panathinaikos is enough breathing room ahead of one – or two – games in Athens. The Greeks have been resurgent under Rick Pitino and are 2.14 to win on a handicap of -4. But they need to reclaim their offense which has gone missing against the 2017 champions. In four clashes this term, Pana has averaged just 69 points – they’ll require more to keep a comeback alive.