Previewing April 11 Games

Previewing April 11 Games

CSKA plays Astana, Tsmoki-Minsk hosts Khimki, VEF takes on Enisey.

Thursday, April 11

Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus – Khimki Russia

Time: 7:00 PM (7:00 MSK)
Place: Sports Palace, Minsk, Belarus

Tsmoki-Minsk: The Dragons don’t have much to play for down the stretch. Even escaping last place will be difficult with the final three games of the season on the road. Tsmoki is tied with PARMA for the worst road record in the League, winning just once outside of Minsk. Tsmoki has also never defeated Khimki. Moscow Region held the Dragons to only 50 points in the previous meeting between these teams. 

Khimki: Rimas Kurtinaitis’s men can breathe a little easier after the win over Zielona Gora. The Yellow and Blue now have a two-game lead on Lokomotiv for 3rd place. But it’s not time to relax yet. Khimki faces a difficult road game in Nizhny Novgorod and Enisey could be battling for a playoff spot. Overall, though, the schedule is quite favorable: Khimki has already defeated PARMA, Enisey and Tsmoki once this season and lost to Nizhny under Bartzokas when the roster was significantly worse than it is now.

VEF Latvia – Enisey Russia

Time: 7:30 PM (7:30 MSK)
Place: Olimpic Sport Center, Riga, Latvia

VEF: Riga last played in the League on March 24, when it suffered one of the worst defeats of the season, scoring only 52 points vs. UNICS. Both teams still have slim shots at the playoffs. VEF’s margin for error is especially small, having played one more game than Enisey. The Latvians also lost the first meeting between these teams as John Roberson scored 22 points.

Enisey: Unlike today’s opponent, the Siberians have been on a roll, winning twice since March 31. The victories put Enisey back in the playoff race, making Thursday’s game a must-win for the Russians. Oleg Okulov’s men only have two wins on the road, but VEF is far from unbeatable at home, posting only a 3-7 record in Latvia. 

CSKA Russia – Astana Kazakhstan

Time: 7:30 PM (7:30 MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match! Strana

CSKA: The Army Men have a brutal schedule leading up to the VTB United League and EuroLeague playoffs. Beginning April 7, the Red and Blue will play three times in five days. CSKA had little trouble vs. Zenit in the first outing, but the trip to Nizhny Novgorod proved more difficult than expected, even though the opponent was playing short-handed. 

History, of course, favors Moscow on Thursday. The Army Men have won 17 in a row vs. Astana, but the Kazakh club is also enjoying its best season ever. CSKA won the first meeting of the season easily, 86-61 on the road, but that was the first game of the season and Astana has since become a serious threat. 

Astana: Coincidentally, CSKA’s win over Zenit helped Astana climb into 5th place. But the Kazakhs need to build on that success with little margin for error. After CSKA, Emil Rajkovic’s men face their two biggest rivals: Zenit and Lokomotiv. Those games will decide if Astana finishes as high as 4th or drops to 6th. It’s no easy task winning in the USH CSKA (UNICS is the only team to do it this season), but Astana will try to live up to its reputation as one of the League’s best road teams. Moscow has a deeper roster, which played a role vs. Nizhny, when even a poor performance from Nando De Colo in the first half did not allow Nizhny to take a big lead.