Week 30 Preview

CSKA vs. Avtodor and Nizhny Novgorod vs. Nymburk highlight Week 30 in the VTB United League.

Saturday, April 23

CSKA (Russia) - Avtodor (Russia)
2:00 PM (2:00 PM MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match TV (Russia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

CSKA: This will be CSKA's final warmup before the start of the playoffs and the Euroleague Final Four. The Red-Blues could let several starters rest with nothing left to accomplish in the regular season.

Avtodor: Unlike CSKA, the stakes couldn't be higher for Avtodor. An unexpected loss to VEF complicated Avtodor's hopes of finishing 5th. The team needs a win on the road against the reigning champs to have any shot at catching Khimki. It's not an easy task. Lokomotiv-Kuban is the only team to win in Moscow this season.

Krasny Oktyabr (Russia) - Astana (Kazakhstan)
4:00 PM (4:00 PM MSK)
Place: Alianz-Basket, Volgograd, Russia
TV: KAZ Sport (Kazakhstan), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Krasny Oktyabr: Volgograd closes the season against Astana. Oktyabr trails the Kazakh club 3-2 in the all-time series and would love to even the score on Sunday. Volgograd can also claim at least a share of 9th place with a win. Playing at home, Oktyabr will be very motivated to finish the season on a high note.

Astana: Astana finally snapped its losing streak with a hard-fought victory against Vita. The Kazakhs would also like to go out strong, but Krasny Oktyabr is likely to be favored. After all, Astana has yet to defeat the Russians in Volgograd. Don't be surprised if both teams give extended playing time to their younger players with an eye to the future.

Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) - Nymburk (Czech Republic)
4:00 PM (4:00 PM MSK)
Place: FOK Meshchersky, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
TV: TV Nova Sport (Czech Republic), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Nizhny Novgorod: 7th place in the standings is on the line when Nymburk travels to Nizhny Novgorod this weekend. Nizhny hasn't helped its cause in recent weeks, dropping games to Tsmoki-Minsk and VEF. The showdown with Nymburk decides who will face CSKA or UNICS in the first round of the postseason.

Nymburk: The Lions have lost five of seven meetings with Nizhny. But the Czechs are 1-0 this season against Ainars Bagatskis's club, squeaking by Nizhny at home thanks to 35 points from Michael Dixon. Given that Nizhny has struggled down the stretch, predicting the outcome of this game is no easy task.

Enisey (Russia) - Khimki (Russia)
7:10 PM (3:10 PM MSK)
Place: Sports Palace, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Enisey: Eliminated from the postseason, Krasnoyarsk's only motivation is passing Krasny Oktyabr for 9th place. The team's focus at this point is on the FIBA Europe Cup Final Four and the April 29 clash with Fraport Skyliners. Expect Enisey to treat an extremely hungry Khimki squad as nothing more than a tune-up for the most important games of the season.

Khimki: Khimki could still finish 4th with a win on Sunday and two Zenit losses to close the season. Moscow Region won't take Enisey lightly. Last April, Krasnoyarsk shocked Khimki by winning in Moscow Region, the club's first regular-season defeat at home in three years.

Sunday, April 24

Zenit (Russia) - UNICS (Russia)
3:00 PM (3:00 PM MSK)
Place: SIBUR Arena, St. Petersburg, Russia
TV: Match TV (Russia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Zenit: St. Petersburg controls its own fate. The club can still catch Lokomotiv-Kuban for 3rd place with a 2-0 finish to the regular season. But while the Railwaymen host VEF on Sunday, Vasily Karasev's club must contend with 2nd-place Kazan.

UNICS: Kazan has fond memories of the last meeting with Zenit. In January, UNICS blew out St. Petersburg by 35 points. In Zenit's defense, the club was playing its third road game in a week. Now both teams are playing quality basketball and UNICS isn't likely to have such an easy time away from home. Evgeny Pashutin's club also has little motivation, having already locked into 2nd place.

Lokomotiv-Kuban (Russia) - VEF (Latvia)
4:00 PM (4:00 PM MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
TV: Riga TV (Latvia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Lokomotiv-Kuban: Krasnodar is battling on two fronts, with Tuesday's mega-Game 5 against Barcelona looming on the calendar. On Thursday, Krasnodar center Anthony Randolph erupted for 28 points (including 10 in overtime) to lead the Railwaymen to a victory in Spain. Club president Andrey Vedishchev, however, noted after the win that Loko still needed to beat VEF on Sunday in order to maintain its spot in the top-3, before moving on to Tuesday's highly-anticipated Euroleague clash.

VEF: Though VEF was eliminated from postseason contention weeks ago, the team has played some of its best basketball in April. Recent wins over Avtodor and Nizhny Novgorod surprised many around the league. Now VEF could score an even bigger upset, traveling to Krasnodar to play 3rd-place Lokomotiv. The Latvians have been competitive with Loko over the years, trailing 3-2 in the series, including a hard-fought loss at home earlier this season.

Kalev (Estonia) - Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus)
5:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: Saku Suurhall, Tallinn, Estonia
TV: SA Tallinna Televisioon (Estonia), Belarus-5 (Belarus), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Kalev: While always competitive, Kalev has lost nine of its last 10 to drop to 15th in the standings. After the loss to Zenit, head coach Alar Varrak noted that his club once again played well, but couldn't quite pull out the win. He then gave his team a simple challenge: win its final game of the season. 

Tsmoki-Minsk: The Dragons finally snapped a lengthy losing streak last week, shocking Nizhny Novgorod and earning high praise from Ainars Bagatskis, who was shocked that such a strong team missed out on the playoffs. Though Tsmoki can't move any higher in the standings, the club could pick up its 10th victory on Sunday.