CSKA Moscow returns to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs with the home-court advantage in its series. The accomplishment is particularly remarkable in a season plagued by injuries – only Nikita Kurbanov took part in all of the team’s 34 regular-season games. To paraphrase Coach Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA survived a marathon of games and finished second in the standings.
Offensive rebounds, defense and taking good care of the ball allowed CSKA to stay strong and consistent.
As seen in this graphic, CSKA led the competition in offensive (12.8 orpg.) and total rebounds (36.0 rpg.). It set a EuroLeague record for most offensive rebounds in a game, 30, and losing Nikola Milutinov (4.4 orpg.) to injury didn’t slow CSKA down. It is then only logical that CSKA also led the EuroLeague in second-chance points, and that rebounding helped the team finish fourth in PIR (93.7).
CSKA managed to limit its turnovers, which allowed it to be more competitive. The Russian powerhouse committed the third-fewest turnovers (12.1 per game) and it allowed its opponents the second-fewest steals (6.0 per game).
However, CSKA struggled to circulate the ball well, ranking 17th in assists. Its average of 15.8 assists per game was the lowest for CSKA since the 2010-11 season, the only one in which the team missed the playoffs since this stage became part of the EuroLeague format in 2005.
Despite the adversities, CSKA continued to fight hard and its defensive numbers were among the best in the competition. CSKA protected the paint well, allowing opponents to make just 52.2% of their two-point shots, ranking fourth overall. The Russian powerhouse, however, allowed 10.2 offensive boards on average, going down from first place to 15th in that category during the season.
CSKA defended deep shots well, keeping its rivals’ three-point shooting percentage to 37.4% to rank eighth in the competition. It was also fourth in points off turnovers. With all that, CSKA allowed 79.7 points per night, more than the 77.0 it allowed in the 2019-20 campaign, but better than 2018-19 when it lifted the EuroLeague trophy despite allowing 80.2 points per showdown.
All things considered, CSKA is looking for its 17th Final Four in 18 full seasons and has the home-court advantage against one of its greatest rivals in recent seasons, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. CSKA is scheduled to host Fenerbahce in Game 1 of their best-of-five series on Wednesday, April 21.