EuroLeague Week 24 Winners and Losers: Preparing for the EuroLeague Play-In

One more round of EuroLeague action remains, and so does one more play-in spot. Here’s what to expect and look out for in the final week of games and beyond.
Fenerbahce Beko v Anadolu Efes - Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Fenerbahce Beko v Anadolu Efes - Turkish Airlines EuroLeague / Anadolu/GettyImages

One more round of EuroLeague action remains. After that, the first-ever EuroLeague play-in showdown will commence with three out of four teams confirmed. The final spot rests in the hands of Anadolu Efes Istanbul. If they beat Crvena Zvezda at home, they will clinch the final play-in spot. Should they lose, Partizan will get in with a win over Valencia. Should they both lose, Milano gets in with a win over Maccabi. 

As we head into the final game week, we analyzed some of the highs and lows of some of the play-in teams over their last few games. Efes and Maccabi are red hot, Bologna (who we talked about last week) are playing their worst basketball of the season, and Baskonia is impossible to predict. 



Real Madrid




AS Monaco


FC Barcelona






Maccabi Tel Aviv




Virtus Bologna


Anadolu Efes Istanbul


Partizan Belgrade








FC Bayern Munich


Crvena Zvezda




ALBA Berlin


EuroLeague Week 24 Winners and Losers: Anadolu Efes Istanbul controls their own destiny

Unfortunately, firing coaches has largely been a positive for teams who have done it this season. Baskonia, Fenerbahce, Zalgiris, and now Efes have all seen a significant bounce in form following their decisions to cut bait with their head coaches. It’s not a perfect science — Crvena Zvezda continues to struggle and ASVEL is still ASVEL — nor is it an indictment of any of the coaches who got let go. Dusko Ivanovic got fired from Zvezda who are 16th and he got Baskonia into the play-in. Fit and environment matter, for players, and for coaches. That’s the lesson to take away here. 

For Efes, Tomislav Mijatovic has been a better fit, and he’s gotten a much better break when it comes to injuries and availability. Under the Croatian, who’s been a part of Efes’ organization through multiple head coaches, Efes is 7-2. They should be 8-1, one of the losses was to ASVEL, and not all the wins have been impressive - such as their 85-84 home win over ALBA Berlin in Round 31. But last week’s win - 82-80 in the Istanbul derby, on the road, to give Fenerbahce only their second home loss of the season, was impressive. Efes broke out their championship pedigree and leaned into the positive traits they’ve developed over the last eight weeks under Mijatovic. 

Efes’ problem this season (besides injuries) has always been their defense. Under Erdem Can through 25 games, they were dead last in defensive rating at 120.4. Statistically, under Mijatovic, they aren’t much better. They are 13th now but still posting 119.4. Numbers-wise, the improvement is marginal but watching Efes play, there is a clear improvement. 

This team is nailing rotations in ways they haven’t since the 2021-22 season. They are hedging and recovering versus the pick-and-roll. Even if you throw the skip pass and your shooter has a quick release, the three will at least be contested. They have cut out a lot of the easy buckets they were giving up, which keeps games closer, and lets them lean into Shane Larkin and Will Clyburn’s offense. 

Their role players have been key too. Mijatovic likes to play two five-man units: starting games with Larkin, Justus Hollatz, Will Clyburn, Ercan Osmani, and Tibor Pleiss. Off the bench, they go with Darius Thompson, Rodrigue Beaubois, Elijah Bryant, Derek Willis, and one of Tyrique Jone or Daniel Oturu. That bench unit is loaded for a bench unit, and the starting group is working because of Hollatz and Osmani. They are the perfect 3-and-D energy combo around Larkin, Clyburn, and Pleiss. They take tough matchups, do the dirty work, and when called upon they knock down their open shots. 

There probably isn’t a first-round matchup that can even be deemed uncomfortable for Real Madrid, but should Efes get through then this rivalry will have another chapter — the 2021 playoffs, the 2022 championship game, this season’s four-overtime classic — and potentially the 2024 playoffs. Again, expect Real Madrid to prevail, but facing this Efes squad who are finally playing to the level they’re capable of is far from a reward for a number one seed. 

EuroLeague Week 24 Winners and Losers: Maccabi misses out on the top 6, but they should still be feared. 

With their loss to Barcelona at the hands of a Nicolas Laprovittola game-winner, Maccabi is locked into the play-in as the seventh seed. With the way they’ve been playing, they should prevail against Baskonia or Bologna and face whoever finishes second and could be a handful even without their home court. But they’ve got to make some adjustments. 

Maccabi’s athletic team provides an abundance of versatility. That trait dictates their defensive strategy which is to switch on pick-and-rolls, bring help, and recover. It sounds good on paper, but the execution isn’t always great. They have the physical traits to play this way but their communication and instincts don’t equate. 

They get lost on switches, they often fail after the first man helps, not even nailing one rotation and easily giving up an open shot. They don’t use tactical fouls either. Against Barcelona last week they didn’t commit a foul until they were eight minutes into the game. When you’re switching and chasing, you should be fouling more. It can bail you out of a few missed rotations or bad closeouts in a game. In the playoffs, that can be the difference between winning and losing. At halftime of this game, head coach Oded Kattash even cited his team's need to be more physical and use their fouls better. 

Their offense remains impressive, but they need to figure out a solution for when teams start blitzing Lorenzo Brown and when his mid-range jumper isn’t falling against drop coverage. Perhaps they use someone other than Josh Nebo as the screener? 

Nebo’s floater has been impressive this season but the passing not so much. Maybe have Colson set the screen or even Wade Baldwin and see if teams are still blitzing or just switching those. But you can’t let teams neutralize the Brown pick-and-roll with simple coverages. There needs to be a counter. The playoffs are a chess match, your opponent will make moves and you’ve got to make moves in response. But letting Brown get held to zero points in a half is unacceptable, and will set Maccabi up for defeat no matter who they face in the playoffs. 

EuroLeague Week 24 Winners and Losers: Baskonia got the win they needed, but concerns hang over them

This Baskonia team has been up and down ever since the initial Dusko surge. In some games, they look like they could beat anyone. Markus Howard is flying off screens and raining quick-trigger 3s, and Codi Miller-McIntyre is slicing through defenses and dropping dimes to Chima Moneke and Tadas Sedekerskis. They’re killing teams on the offensive glass, and hunting transition opportunities. Matt Costello, Vanja Marinkovic, and Nikos Rogkavopoulos are all chipping in too. 

In other games, they look atrocious. The shots aren’t falling, they look like they couldn’t care less about getting stops, and they get run out of the gym. Before beating Real Madrid, they lost their last two EuroLeague games by a combined margin of 39 points. After beating Real, they lost to Valencia (who just fired their coach) in ACB play by 10 but did trail by as much as 30. 

How does this happen to Baskonia? Their biggest problem is their transition defense. Baskonia has two fantastic non-center rebounders on their roster in Moneke and Sedekerskis. They are both formidable on the offensive and defensive glass and thus, they like to crash the offensive glass. But when your center is under there too and you don’t get the rebound, or even worse — it goes long, that means you’ve got only two defenders back. They are also your two smallest defenders. Opposing teams are running the other way and getting a layup, an open 3, or going to the free-throw line. Dusko has to figure out how to address the low-hanging fruit here for the play-in and playoffs. 

Yes, they should be hunting offensive rebounds with their personnel. It is one of their strengths. But you’ve got to strike a balance that protects your team at the other end. Having three players crash at once is not advisable. 

In the halfcourt, they need to do a better job of switching out of their bad matchups. Baskonia likes to switch against pick-and-rolls sometimes, which makes sense when you have a guard like Miller-McIntyre but less so for Howard and Chris Chiozza. Even for Miller-McIntyre, it isn’t ideal at all times. What could truly optimize their switches is making a second switch. 

On a number of possessions, there are scenarios like the ones above. A guard is switched onto a big. They front well and deny passing angles, which forces opponents to rotate the ball. In that split second where you cut off the immediate entry pass, switch with Moneke, Sedekerskis, Dani Diez, or whoever the bigger player is in the corner. Make it less of a mismatch, and harder for teams to exploit. 

On the offensive end, there needs to be a plan for when teams start daring Miller-McIntyre to shoot out of the pick-and-roll. Real Madrid put their centers in drop and had their guards going under the ball screen. They clogged the paint and cut off driving angles for Miller-McIntyre. Baskonia needs a response to this, a quick dribble handoff with with Howard, Marinkovic, or Rogkavopoulos (who’s establishing himself as a more reliable player lately) makes sense. Pick-and-roll defenders are sinking deep and their own defender will be trailing them, it could generate good looks from three off the catch or let them get downhill for drives and make the previously clogged paint more of a scramble. All these things are easier said than done, but if Baskonia wants to prevail from the play-in they’ve got to do more to address their obvious weaknesses.  

EuroLeague Week 24 Lines of the Week

Clyburns 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists to deliver victory in the Istanbul derby. He’s not the best three in Europe anymore, regardless of what he says, but he is still a force to be reckoned with when he can stay on the court. 

EuroLeague Week 24 Quote of the Week

In case you missed it the first two times we mentioned it, Clyburn says he’s still the best three in Europe. 

EuroLeague Week 24 Clip of the Week

Another week, another game-winner. This one is from Laprovittola.