An in-depth look at CSKA Moscow against Panathinaikos and Real Madrid against Partizan Belgrade.
CSKA Moscow started off Euroleague Round 9 with another win, this time against talented Greek side Panathinaikos. Undefeated thus far, CSKA used a strong second half to put Panathinkaikos away, eventually running away with a 91-75 win.
A victory for Panathinkaikos would have made the Group B standings quite interesting, but CSKA emerged as the better team with their front court proving to be the difference maker with Nenad Krstic, Viktor Khryapa and Alexey Shved combining to score 49 points.
Krstic was dominant as usual, hauling in rebounds, hitting open jumpers from around 18 feet and scoring off easy looks from the attention his talent teammates required. He finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and shot 9-10 from the charity stripe.
Khryapa and Shved each scored 16 apiece. Always making things happen, Khryapa’s do-it-all game (seven rebounds, three assists) was impressive as usual and he used his IQ, size, and skill set to create not only for himself, but for others as well. Shved’s length and ability to create his own shot and finish off the dribble or with the jumper also proved to be too much for the defense as he made four from six from beyond the arc.
Former Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosic was noticeably absent in stretches for the second consecutive game but played a better second half. He only finished with four points but controlled the offense brilliantly, handing out 10 assists to only two turnovers, including one ridiculous no-look pass from half court that hit Krstic under the ring after skipping through three defenders.
It was a pretty grim night for the visitors. Ian Vougioukas had a solid 17 points, but the big man didn’t do enough on the glass and finished with just a single rebound. Steven Smith was the only other significant contributor, finishing with 11 points.
Former High School All-American, and property of the Dallas Mavericks, Nick Calathes wasn’t impressive after his commendable run with Greek national team at Eurobasket this summer. His average play led to a rare but much appreciated Sarunas Jasikevicus sighting. The veteran from Lithuania (and former Indiana Pacer) didn’t play a whole lot but his passing ability and touch with the basket was a nice reminder of the player he once was.
Needing a win over Partizan Belgrade to wrap up Group C and advance to the Top 16, Real Madrid did just that, destroying their opponent in front of a home crowd, 101-83.
Partizan, a solid team, could not keep up with Real’s fast paced offense and numerous scoring options. Sergio Rodriquez and Sergio Llull kept the ball moving on the break and in the half-court and received nice scoring nights from Nikola Mirotic and Jaycee Carroll.
Coming into the game averaging 16.9 points per game on a crazy 61% from beyond the arc, Carroll was brilliant again finishing with 23 points on four from six from downtown. Whether he’s left open or coming off screens, Carroll is deadly from distance and while the rest of his game is pretty limited he showed some decent ability scoring off the dribble and in transition. Watching him fire away is a thing of beauty and the former NCAA star couldn’t be stopped whilst going against a former NBA talent (more on that later).
Mirotic, the 23rd pick in this year’s NBA Draft, showed why the Orlando Magic believe he could one day become an NBA player. Only 20-years-old with plenty of room to grow, Mirotic has the ability to be a solid stretch four with his nice post game and smooth outside jumper. He totaled 21 points and eight boards.
Sergio Rodriquez garnered comparisons to former All-Star Jason Williams during his short stint in the NBA, but he also has a lot of Steve Nash in him. His passing is creative and entertaining, throwing no-look lobs and passes from behind his head with not just stylish, but also effective. He finished with eight points and eight assists and his court vision provided continuous highlights in an otherwise dull game.
His backup, Sergio Llull, was also good and although he only managed five points and four assists, both men controlled the game in an effective, fast and entertaining manner.
The game was also the debut for Kyle Singler, a 23-year-old, forward who should right now be entering his first NBA training camp with the Detroit Pistons. Instead the shaggy haired NCAA Champion will play the season for Real and started in his first Euroleague appearance. Although he didn’t blow anyone away with his performance he was solid throughout and showcased an all-round skill set that will eventually become valuable to his side once he becomes better acclimated to his new surroundings.
Partizan was led by Milan Macvan, another young NBA prospect drafted this year by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Having a breakout season, the 22-year-old is averaging 15 points per game in the Euroleague and is a matchup nightmare, but not for the reasons most would suspect. Athletically, Macvan is average at best, but he has a thick body, high skill set and a great basketball IQ. He shoots well from outside and can get to the ring. It wasn’t Macvan’s best performance, but considering his team’s poor play, his 16 point effort was about the only highlight for the visitors.
I was quite excited to see former NBA point guard prospect Acie Law play, but his performance was one of the least impressive in this game. He lacked the necessary aggressiveness a point guard needs when his team is struggling to put points on the board and when he did shoot, a lot of his attempts were pretty weak. He did finish with 11 points on 2-2 from three point land, but I walked away disappointed, especially with his zero assists and five turnover stat line.
CSKA Moscow continues to look like the elite of the competition, blowing away another highly rated competitor. Undefeated, CSKA is good enough to win the tournament. While Real Madrid isn’t quite at the level CSKA is, they have a number of very dangerous weapons and play a style of basketball that could unseat a team like Moscow on any given night. Their win just about solidifies their position at the head of Group C and look to be another contender to watch out for in the Top 16.
Follow Robert on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr