Five regular season games are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
Friday, May 4
Time: 6:00 PM (4:00 MSK)
Place: Molot Sports Palace, Perm, Russia
PARMA: PARMA hasn’t been eliminated from postseason contention yet, but the dramatic overtime loss to Avtodor has them in critical condition. The Ural club closes out the season vs. UNICS and CSKA. The match-up with Kazan presents a fascinating duel: Codi Miller-McIntyre’s speed and athleticism (he’s the first player in League history to record two triple-doubles) vs. Quino Colom’s experience and sneaky versatility.
UNICS: After a tough game vs. Nizhny, Kazan guard Jamar Smith admitted the team struggled without Maurice Ndour. Indeed, UNICS was outmatched on the glass, giving up 17 offensive rebounds. If Ndour misses another game, Kazan could have trouble stopping Yannick Moreira and Miller-McIntyre from dominating the rebounding battle.
Saturday, May 5
Time: 3:00 PM (3:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Krasnodar was able to hang on for a win in Riga and stay ahead of Zenit for 3rd place. On Saturday, they face another hungry opponent in Enisey, who needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Krasnoyarsk has some holes on defense as evidenced by the game vs. Zenit. Loko is likely to take advantage. On the other hand, Sasa Obradovic’s men need to make open shots. Against VEF, the Railwaymen shot a measly 2-20 from beyond the arc!
Enisey: Despite improving significantly since the winter, Enisey failed to beat Zenit and UNICS at home, damaging the team’s playoff chances. Krasnoyarsk was competitive with UNICS from start to finish, but appeared to run out of steam in the game vs. Zenit. It’s never easy playing on the road in Krasnodar, but Enisey will try to take revenge for the first meeting of the season, when Kuban limited the Siberians to only 49 points.
Time: 5:00 PM (4:00 MSK)
Place: Kristall Sports Palace, Saratov, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport, VTB-League.com
Avtodor: Avtodor and Khimki have been locked in a heated battle for 5th place for months. Now the two teams are set to meet on the court with everything on the line. Avtodor and Khimki are tied with 12-9 records. Avtodor has been busy in the League, winning three in a row since April 12. Khimki, meanwhile, lost an exhausting four-game series to CSKA in the EuroLeague, plus picked up a win over Tsmoki-Minsk.
Khimki: Khimki absolutely needs to win to seize control of its playoff seed. But with two more games on the schedule, it’s possible these two teams could finish the season with identical records, in which case Khimki would likely hold the tiebreaker thanks to a 13-point win earlier in the year. Moscow Region’s big run in the 4th quarter of the first meeting with Avtodor could end up being huge.
Khimki’s biggest challenge vs. Avtodor will be slowing down Coty Clarke, who was named the League MVP in April.
Time: 5:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match TV, VTB-League.com
CSKA: One of the most intriguing games of the week will be played in Moscow as the Army Men welcome 4th-place Zenit to town. The home team is on the verge of clinching the regular-season title, but can’t afford any missteps with UNICS close behind. CSKA is on a roll, defeating Khimki in the EuroLeague quarterfinals to advance to the Final Four, where they will face one of their biggest rivals in Real Madrid.
Zenit: CSKA has only lost twice in the regular season, but one of those defeats came in the Yubileyny Sports Complex. Sergey Karasev led Zenit to the victory, knocking down the go-ahead shot in the 4th quarter. On Saturday, the forward will try to build on last week’s 32-point outburst vs. Enisey, when he combined with Kyle Kuric for 66 points. This should be a high-scoring affair with the League’s top offense (CSKA, 93.5 ppg) taking on the 3rd-most dangerous offense (Zenit, 85.9 ppg).
Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Falcon Club, Minsk, Belarus
Tsmoki-Minsk: This is another game that have a big impact on the standings. The Dragons have fewer wins, but an extra game on the schedule. On the other hand, Minsk travels to St. Petersburg to wrap up the season, no easy task. If Tsmoki wants to reach the playoffs, they desperately need a win at home on Saturday. Minsk has been playing at a high level on offense in recent weeks, but the only win came against last-place Kalev.
VEF: Riga could pick up its ninth win of the season on Saturday, which would virtually guarantee a spot in the postseason. Following the game vs. Enisey, Tsmoki coach Alexander Krutikov pointed to his team’s struggles on the glass. VEF leads the League in rebounding and will try to take advantage vs. Minsk. But regardless of the outcome, VEF will have to wait on other results to learn its postseason fate.