Real Madrid is alive and kicking
Real Madrid could be the first team to qualify for the 2022 EuroLeague Final Four if they win tonight in the Menora Mivtachim Arena against Maccabi Tel Aviv. In the playoffs, usually the series played between the 4th and 5th seed is the most balanced one, however after two games this is the only matchup where a team leads 2-0. Not only that, but Real won convincingly both games and it seems very unlikely that Maccabi can turn this series around.
The team from the Spanish capital had two very rough months, losing a total of 15 games since February. Real had huge issues on both ends of the floor, some night they just couldn’t score, they seemed to lack a good point guard and there were rumors that even coach Pablo Laso’s job was in danger. Besides all this, after the game played in March in Athens against Panathinaikos, Thomas Heurtel and Trey Thompkins were removed by coach Laso from the team due to lack of discipline, but they were later allowed to return to the squad.
However, in the past two weeks Real won 4 games in a row, including the two EuroLeague playoff games against Maccabi. It seems that the experienced squad and coaching staff figured out just in time how to overcome the issues and Real looks again as one of the contenders to win the EuroLeague and Spanish league this season (for sure they have the talent, depth and experience to do this).
On the other side, Maccabi can only hope to win at least one game at home in front of their passionate fans. Just like in the past few years, Maccabi has a very talented and spectacular team, but they are inconsistent. In February it looked very likely that Maccabi will miss the playoffs and experienced coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos was replaced by Avi Even. However, many things happened since then: the three Russian teams that were ahead of Maccabi in the standings were banned from the competition and the Israeli team also managed an amazing 6 game winning streak to end the regular season in 5th place.
Energized by the home fans, we can be sure that Wilbekin and co. will give 100% and they might even win today, but Maccabi will not beat Real three times in a row.