By: Nick Gibson, Sam Meyerkopf, Rob Scott & Simon Jatsch

In week two of the regular season, Anadolu Efes became the first team to beat Olympiacos since their playoff series against Montepaschi Siena, walloping the champs 98-72. Then in week seven, the Reds returned the favor with a 75-53 beating of Efes.

Throw all that out the window. That was back when we weren’t sure what to think of Olympiacos and what we thought we knew about the Turks would take a drastic turn for the better once the Top 16 hit.  Ancient history, really.  Now Jamon Lucas and Jordan Farmar will see if they can push Anadolu Efes past Vassilis Spanoulis and his revolving door of versatile, venomous forwards.

Other Playoff Previews:

Barcelona vs. Panathinaikos
CSKA Moscow vs. Caja Laboral 

Olympiacos will win because…

Looking at the rosters, this seems pretty close, and intriguing. But Olympiacos are peaking at the right time, again, and have a chemistry advantage so large it would be stupid to dismiss it. With Spanoulis driving both to score and to dish, particularly to Kostas Papanikolaou, the Reds’ plan A is incredibly difficult to stop, particularly for a team like Efes which is unwilling to hedge. Kyle Hines might give up height to Semih Erden, but he’s taking guys off the bounce now. Efes are atrocious on the road, and three of these five are in Piraeus. Not that it will get that far.

-Rob

Anadolu Efes will win because…

Anadolu Efes have the only guy I’d trust one-on-one against Spanoulis.  No; not Sinan Guler, though he comes close. I’m talking about Jamon Lucas, who posted the Top 16’s second highest steal total with 1.86 steals per game (Bo McCalebb averaged 2.29 for Fenerbahçe if that counts), and owns the Euroleague’s lowest center of defensive gravity on the perimeter.  He’s an absolute bull.  The Kyle Hines of combo guards. Better yet, this is not a Victor Sada/Marcelinho Huertas situation in which Oktay Mahmuti must sacrifice punch for counterpunch, and his ability to stay out of too much foul trouble–he’s reached four fouls eight times but never heard that fateful fifth whistle–means he won’t have to leave Farmar all alone on the wing with [gasp] Sasha Vujacic during key stretches.

-Nick

Small Samples

Both Bartzokas and Mahmuti have reduced changes to their starting fives to a minimum, therefore you can expect Kyle Hines to clash with Barac instead of Erden (considering the substitution patterns), Printezis to face Savanovic through most of his minutes and Law/Spanoulis to match up against Farmar/Lucas most of the time – unless one of the coaches decides to roll the dice and blow up the whole thing.

Anadolu Efes’ road performance (30.2 percent expected winning in Top 16) does not bode well for the upcoming playoff series against Olympiacos. They have a difference of 40.8 percentage points between expected home and away winning percentage, biggest home-away margin among quarter finalists ahead of Maccabi (36.2) and Panathinaikos (26.3).

-Simon Jatsch, In-The-Game.org

Bad Blood

Piraeus, Greece and the fortress of Peace and Friendship arena has withstood six years of Efes attacks.  The Turkish side hasn’t won in Piraeus since 2007.  Yet just last year, walking right into the Sinan Erdem Dome where Efes plays their home Euroleague games, Olympiacos won a Euroleague championship.  A championship, celebrated on your home floor, in your house.  That can’t be tolerated.  Only Kerem Gonlum and Ermal Kuqo remember the sweet taste of victory in Pireaus, as they were a part of that 2007 Efes team that won in Piraeus.  Can the old guys get revenge and win a battle on enemy territory?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Sadly, the great giant Scoonie Penn will not be there to lead the Reds into battle like in 2007.

-Sam

Who Wins, & In How Many

Nick: Olympiacos in three
Sam: Olympiacos in four
Rob: Olympiacos in three
Simon:  Olympiacos in five