The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague’s Round 17 matches will end today with three games. In-form Crvena Zvezda (7-9) will attempt to continue its charge towards the playoff zone by bagging a sixth win in eight games with a trip to rock-bottom Anadolu Efes (4-12). Efes has been a tough customer at home in recent weeks, winning two of its last four games in Istanbul and losing the other two by just three points and one. The teams are very closely matched in many statistical categories, but Efes has the clear edge in rebounding with an average of 36.1 boards per game compared to Zvezda’s 32.9, and one key could be the inside battle between two players going up against their former clubs: Efes’s Vladimir Stimac and Zvezda’s Milko Bjelica.
Elsewhere, two previously red-hot teams will look to kick-start new winning runs as Zalgiris (10-6) hunts down a win to re-establish a top four position against a Unicaja team (7-9) on the fringes of the playoff zone. After making just five out of 18 three-point shots in last week’s loss in Belgrade, Zalgiris will look to recover its usual long-range shooting accuracy (41.8 percent for the season), while Unicaja’s offense has bounced back from a slow start to the season to average 85.2 points in its last six games. Zalgiris has committed more fouls than any other team (23.9 per game), so Unicaja can expect plenty of chances to improve its free-throw conversion rate of 69.4 percent, which is third-worst in the league.
And finally, after suffering consecutive losses against two of last season’s Final Four teams, Baskonia (7-9) will look to reignite its campaign by taking on another, co-leader Olympiacos (12-4). The Reds have won the last six consecutive encounters against the Basque club and is returning to full health with Georgios Printezis and Nikola Milutinov both coming back from injury last week. Baskonia was held to just 74 points in last week’s loss to Fenerbahçe, its lowest total since Round Four, and faces another stern test today against an Olympiacos team that again boasts the best defense in the EuroLeague, allowing just 71.6 points per game.
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