There’s no shortage of pedigree on show this weekend, as the European champions from the last four years square off for the Euroleague basketball title. CSKA Moscow start as the 1.85 favourites to lift the trophy come Sunday night.
Star power and an 18-2 record this season have propelled the Russians into the Final Four where they’ll be seeking their first Euroleague triumph since 2008. And they’re brimming with confidence after securing the Russian League last week. Persuading native son Andrei Kirilenko to remain at home even when the NBA lockout ended has paid dividends, as has the investment in the proven talents of 2010 MVP Milos Teodosic and his Serbia team-mate Nenad Krstic.
In Friday’s first semi-final, CSKA face the defending champions Panathinaikos and after two victories over the Greeks during the regular season, it’s no surprise that the Muscovites are priced at 1.35 to win in regulation. They’ve dominated teams when necessary, including a 91-75 defeat of Pana in their last meeting. So the best value might be to take Panathinaikos on the third quarter handicap of +5.0 points at 1.90.
The other semi-final pits the ultra-consistent FC Barcelona – priced at 3.25 to win the title – against Olympiakos. Few expected the Greeks to stumble this far when they went 6-4 in the regular season before just escaping the second round with a 3-3 mark. They’re at 3.55 to upset the Catalan giants. But these are also two good defensive teams. It’s a good bet to go under the points tally of 142.5 (available at 1.91) or take Olympiakos to stay within reach at half-time on a handicap of +3.5 points at 1.90. Back Barca to prevail however.
Friday’s only NBA play-off game sees the LA Clippers attempt to clinch a Western Conference semi-final showdown with San Antonio with a Game 6 win over Memphis.
Despite home advantage, the Clips will take a banged-up Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Caron Butler into action. And with an 92-80 win on Wednesday, the Grizzlies showed signs of finally playing to their strengths. They’d have to win tonight to force a deciding Game 7 back in Tennessee and it’s worth backing them at 2.50 to claw back and advance to meet the Spurs.
Bet of the Day: Go under 142.5 total points in Olympiakos v FC Barcelona at 1.91