NBA

EuroLeague: Unpredictability reigns as basketball’s answer to Brexit promises a night of high drama

April 3, 2019January 6th, 2022

AFTER 29 Rounds, 2320 games, predictable blowouts, upsets and thrillers, the EuroLeague’s regular season comes to its end this week.

And although seeds 1-5 are already set in stone, the three remaining playoff berths below are all up for grabs with six teams taking one last swing at beating the cut and finishing inside the top eight.

Remarkably, none of the contenders face one another and with a multitude of tie-breaker permutations (here’s the full complex list at the EuroLeague site – things are about to get complicated. And it could end up with the outsiders sneaking in.

In basketball’s answer to Brexit, a majority verdict will suffice for Baskonia and Panathinaikos, both with 15-14 records, with a mere victory will be enough to prolong their campaigns.

Pana, worth a cheeky bet at 5.00 to ultimately end up in this season’s top three, have the easiest route of all. But for Rudy Fernandez’s astonishing buzzer-beating prayer for Real Madrid last week, the Greens would be home and dry.

Instead, they can clinch by defeating lowly Buducnost, who are 9.50 for an upset in Athens. Given that during their preceding six-game victorious streak, Pana didn’t lose to a sub-.500 opponent by any less than nine, it’s worth looking over 160.5 total points at 1.91.

After this one, unpredictability reigns. Baskonia – the hosts of Final Four – would stay sixth by avoiding defeat … except they are visiting second-placed CSKA Moscow where they have won only this century followed by 15 consecutive reverses in the Russian capital.

CSKA have nothing to play for but momentum which could make the Basques worth a punt at 3.15. Yet Baskonia has conceded an average of 84.6 points on the road while CSKA is 9-0 at home this season when they’ve scored over 80. It might require the guests to keep the total tally under 165 to prevail. Otherwise, they will need either Zalgiris to win – or Milan or Olympiacos to lose – to survive.

FULL EUROLEAGUE BETTING

The other four contenders are 14-15 and for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olympiacos, there is a chance their fates will have been sealed by the time they play on Friday.

Although Zalgiris sit eighth, what would be a surprise triumph at Real Madrid on Thursday is no absolute guarantee due to the myriad tie-breakers.

The Lithuanians have a league-best five-game winning streak but are 2.95 for the upset after losing eleven straight to Real, including a 90-79 come-from-behind decision in November.

Added that the Madrid outfit has scored 90 points on eleven occasions this term and Kaunas is 2-9 when conceding 80 or more, it does not bode well.

Theoretically, Zalgiris can lose and advance if Olympiacos, Milan and Maccabi are all defeated. That seems a long shot.

Milano is 0-12 on trips to Efes Istanbul and the Italians, having lost three on the bounce, have become a defensive open door and are now allowing an average of 87.7 per night. Efes is 12-0 this season when it has scored at least 87 points although, given the high stakes on Thursday, looking under 174.5 total points at 1.91 could pay off.

Friday’s twosome can only wait and see. Maccabi visit regular season winners Fenerbahce but the Israels, 4.10 for the victory, can only progress with a win and three other results going their way.

Olympiacos won’t be able to qualify if either Milan or Zalgiris have won on Thursday, 24 hours before the injury-hit Greeks take their last shot against lowly Darussafaka.

Yet don’t despair too soon. The Reds’ coach David Blatt knows Darussafaka well, having coached the Turks for two seasons, including to last year's EuroCup title.

And if their chances seem slim, especially given the season-ending knock to veteran Vassilis Spanoulis, consider this: Olympiacos will reach the playoffs if they win and both Milan and Zalgiris lose because of the weird and head-to-heads.

It would be a remarkable escape for Blatt, given his team’s costly late campaign slump. But given that they would go into the game knowing precisely what is required, the final twist in this complex tale may see the Greeks limp forward to win the Lottery when the last ball drops.

Best bet: Take over 165 total points in Olympiacos – Darussafaka

 

PLAYOFF PERMUTATIONS (courtesy: Euroleague)

BASKONIA at CSKA Moscow (Thursday, 18:00 UK)

Simple option: Baskonia (16-14) qualifies to the playoffs and clinches sixth place if it wins.
– Baskonia (15-15) qualifies, even if it loses, if Zalgiris (15-15) wins OR if either Milan (14-16) or Olympiacos (14-16) lose.
– Baskonia (15-15) is eliminated with a loss if Zalgiris (14-16) loses AND Milan (15-15) and Olympiacos (15-15) both win.

PANATHINAIKOS vs. Buducnost, Thursday, 20:00 CET

Simple option: Panathinaikos (16-14) qualifies to the playoffs if it wins.
– Panathinaikos (16-14) qualifies and clinches sixth place if it wins AND Baskonia (15-15) loses.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Baskonia (15-15) AND Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Maccabi (14-16) AND Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Olympiacos (14-16) AND Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Milan (14-16), Olympiacos (14-16) and Maccabi (14-16) all lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Milan (14-16), Maccabi (14-16) and Zalgiris (14-16) all lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Milan (14-16), Olympiacos (14-16) and Zalgiris (14-16) all lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Olympiacos (14-16), Maccabi (14-16) and Zalgiris (14-16) all lose.
– Panathinaikos (16-14 or 15-15) qualifies if Baskonia (15-15), Olympiacos (14-16) and Milan (14-16) all lose.
– Panathinaikos (15-15) is eliminated with a loss if Zalgiris (15-15) AND Olympiacos (15-15) both win.
– Panathinaikos (15-15) is eliminated with a loss if Zalgiris (15-15) AND Milan (15-15) both win.
– Panathinaikos (15-15) is eliminated with a loss if Baskonia (16-14), Zalgiris (15-15) AND Maccabi (15-15) all win.
– Panathinaikos (15-15) is eliminated with a loss if Baskonia (16-14), Olympiacos (15-15) and Maccabi (15-15) all win.

OLIMPIA MILANO at Efes Istanbul (Thursday, 18:30 UK)

Simple option: Milan (14-16) is eliminated if it loses.

– Milan (15-15) qualifies to the playoffs if it wins AND Baskonia (15-15) loses.
– Milan (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Maccabi (14-16) loses.
– Milan (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Panathinaikos (15-15) loses AND Zalgiris (15-15) wins.
– Milan (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Panathinaikos (16-14) wins AND Zalgiris (14-16) loses.
– Milan (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Olympiacos wins (15-15) AND Panathinaikos (15-15) and Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Milan (15-15 or 14-16) is eliminated, even if it wins, if Baskonia (16-14), Panathinaikos (16-14), Zalgiris (15-15) and Maccabi (15-15) all win.
– Milan (15-15 or 14-16) is eliminated, even if it wins, if Baskonia (16-14) and Maccabi (15-15) both win AND Panathinaikos (15-15), Zalgiris (14-16) and Olympiacos (14-16) all lose.
 

ZALGIRIS KAUNAS at Real Madrid (Thursday, 20:00 UK)

Simple option: None

– Zalgiris (15-15) qualifies to the playoffs if it wins AND Milan (14-16) loses.
– Zalgiris (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Panathinaikos (15-15) loses.
– Zalgiris (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Baskonia (16-14), Panathinaikos (16-14) and Maccabi (15-15) all win.
– Zalgiris (15-15 or 14-16) qualifies if Olympiacos (14-16), Milan (14-16) and Maccabi (14-16) all lose.
– Zalgiris (15-15) is eliminated, even if it wins, if Panathinaikos (16-14) AND Milan (15-15) both win AND Baskonia (15-15) loses.
– Zalgiris (15-15) is eliminated, even if it wins, if Panathinaikos (16-14) AND Milan (15-15) both win AND Maccabi (14-16) loses.
– Zalgiris (14-16) is eliminated if it loses AND Olympiacos (15-15) wins.
– Zalgiris (14-16) is eliminated if it loses AND Milan (15-15) wins.
– Zalgiris (14-16) is eliminated if it loses AND Maccabi (15-15) wins.

MACCABI TEL AVIV at Fenerbahce (Friday, 18:45 UK)

Simple option: Maccabi (14-16) is eliminated if it loses.

– Maccabi (15-15) qualifies to the playoffs if it wins AND if Milan (14-16), Olympiacos (14-16) and Zalgiris (14-16) all lose.
– Maccabi (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Baskonia (16-14) wins AND Panathinaikos (15-15) and Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Maccabi (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Baskonia (16-14) wins AND Panathinaikos (15-15), Olympiacos (14-16) and Milan (14-16) all lose.
– Maccabi (15-15 or 14-16) is eliminated, even if it wins, in any other scenario.

OLYMPIACOS  vs. Darussafaka (Friday, 19:30 UK)

Simple option: Olympiacos (14-16) is eliminated if it loses.

– Olympiacos (15-15) qualifies to the playoffs if it wins AND Milan (14-16) and Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Olympiacos (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Baskonia (15-15) and Zalgiris (14-16) both lose.
– Olympiacos (15-15) qualifies if it wins AND Panathinaikos (15-15) and Milan (14-16) both lose.
– Olympiacos (15-15 or 14-16) is eliminated if Panathinaikos (16-14) and Zalgiris (15-15) both win.
– Olympiacos (15-15 or 14-16) is eliminated if Milan (15-15) and Zalgiris (15-15) both win.
– Olympiacos (15-15 or 14-16) is eliminated if Baskonia (16-14) and Milan (15-15) both win.