Week In Review: Five-Team Scramble For The Playoffs, Coty Clarke In MVP Mode, CSKA Can Clinch 1st Place

Week In Review: Five-Team Scramble For The Playoffs, Coty Clarke In MVP Mode, CSKA Can Clinch 1st Place

Everything you need to know. 

CSKA takes revenge on Zenit and needs one more win to clinch the regular-season title

CSKA has only lost twice this season, including once to Zenit. St. Petersburg defeated the Army Men at home in mid-January, 87-83. The Red-Blues have not lost since, including Saturday’s satisfying victory in Moscow.

Kyle Kuric and Sergey Karasev, who became the first teammates in League history to score 30 or more points in a game vs. Enisey, finished with 23. Combined. CSKA won convincingly, 100-84, and now can clinch the regular-season title with a win on the road vs. PARMA or a loss by UNICS to Zenit. 

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St. Petersburg did get some good news over the weekend. Wins by Avtodor and Lokomotiv-Kuban guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the Blue-White-Sky Blues. Zenit (15-7) can still finish in 3rd place, but needs a lot of help from Krasnodar (16-6) in the final two games of the season. 

Ukhov catches fire vs. UNICS, but can’t get PARMA closer to the playoffs

PARMA has the most difficult schedule of teams in the playoff hunt. It takes a special performance to defeat opponents like UNICS and CSKA. Ivan Ukhov delivered the goods in the first half vs. Kazan, drilling five of six 3-pointers to score 17 points in 20 minutes. But his inspired play (25 points, five rebounds) wasn’t enough to carry PARMA as UNICS powered to victory in the second half. With the win, Kazan can still finish in 1st place. 

Perm now needs a miracle to reach the postseason: Beat CSKA in the regular-season finale and pray for some help from the rest of the pack. Even though Perm is very unlikely to advance to the playoffs, the club took a big step forward this year.

PARMA struggled to a 1-23 record in its debut season. The 2017-18 campaign has been a different story. From start to finish, the Siberian club has been in the thick of the playoff chase, and even tested powerhouse teams like CSKA, Zenit and Loko. Meanwhile, superstar guard Codi Miller-McIntyre wowed the fans with two triple-doubles, while the team had one of the most electric rosters in the League. Here’s to an even stronger campaign from Nikolajs Mazurs and the boys from Perm next season.

Avtodor bumps Khimki from 5th place

Avtodor and Khimki have duked it out most of the season for the #5 seed. Entering Saturday with identical 12-9 records, the game in Saratov was a chance to seize control. 

The “MVP Factor” ended up playing a big role. Khimki was without star Alexey Shved, while Avtodor had April MVP Coty Clarke. The American forward was magnificent once again, leading his team in points (30) and rebounds (7), while dishing out eight assists. 

Avtodor scored more than 100 points for the third time this season, winning 104-92. Moscow Region has to be content with the tiebreaker (thanks to a 13-point win in the first meeting) and club legend Sergey Monia celebrating his 450th appearance for the Yellow-Blues. The Saratov native is close to passing Vitaly Fridzon (466) for most appearances ever in a Khimki uniform.

The race for 5th place, however, is not over. Avtodor still plays Nizhny and Astana, while Khimki takes on Loko and Enisey to close out the season. 

Enisey is eliminated from postseason contention

Enisey’s playoff hopes were officially crushed on Saturday. Thanks to a 49-point loss in Krasnodar–the biggest margin of defeat in the League this season–the Siberians have been eliminated from postseason contention. The first meeting between these two teams also featured the number 49–that’s how many points Enisey scored in the game, another season record. With one game remaining, Enisey will try to avoid last place, currently occupied by Kalev. Lokomotiv, on the other hand, clinched home-court advantage in the first round.

Enisey finished in 6th place with a 13-11 record last season, the best team outside of the Big Five. But Tony Taylor, Frank Elegar and Vladislav Trushkin exited over the summer and the club struggled to replace them. Enisey stumbled to a 1-5 start, and lost seven straight later in the season, and never really threatened to reach the postseason despite a brief rally in the spring. Krasnoyarsk will have a lot of work to do over the summer. 

Five teams, two playoff spots with a week to go in the season

For the first time in League history, five teams are competing for two playoff spots with only a week remaining in the regular season: Nizhny Novgorod (8-14), Tsmoki-Minsk (8-15), VEF (8-16), Astana (7-16) and PARMA (7-16).

Minsk hosted a key game in the battle for 8th place this weekend. Given Astana (7-16) and PARMA’s (7-16) challenging schedules, the favorites are Tsmoki-Minsk and VEF. The game ended in something of a compromise. VEF could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory, but Tsmoki ended up winning.

Even though the Belarusians are now 8th, they have yet to guarantee a spot in the postseason. Tsmoki’s fate will be decided on the road vs. Zenit. If the Dragons lose, VEF will regain 8th place thanks to a better head-to-head record (+5). Nizhny would also need to win one of its two remaining games.

But if Nizhny, Tsmoki and VEF finish with identical records, the Russians and Belarusians would advance to the postseason. 

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But that’s only a few of the possible scenarios. Astana (7-16), for example, holds the tiebreaker over Tsmoki-Minsk and VEF. Mikhail Karpenko’s team take on Avtodor in the regular-season finale. If they win, they have a very good chance at making the postseason.

Finally, let’s take a look at what happens if four or five teams finish with 8-16 records. These scenarios would require two Nizhny losses, a Tsmoki defeat and wins by either Astana or PARMA (or both). The +/-  totals in games between each team would serve as the tiebreaker. PARMA and Nizhny would advance if all five teams are tied, while Astana and Nizhny move on if PARMA loses to CSKA, resulting in a four-way tie.