EuroLeague Final Four field set

Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

All signs now point to Belgrade as the EuroLeague season gets set for an exciting conclusion.

However, with two of the four playoff series being decided with a winner-take-all Game 5, the drama that pulls us into EuroLeague basketball was at its best.

Barcelona and Olympiacos had to go the distance against Bayern Munich and Monaco, respectively to reach this year’s Final Four.

Olympiacos and Monaco were gripped in a series for the ages as the two teams exchanged blowouts in the first two games to then engage in a hard-fought, gritty style of hoops expected in a win or go home, post-season showdown.

In the end, Olympiacos advanced to the Final Four with a come-from-behind 94-88 win in the deciding Game 5 to seal a 3-2 series win.

With Monaco leading for the majority of the game – and up 70-66 after three quarters – Olympiacos needed a big push, and they got this within the first minute of the final period as a four-point play from Sasha Vezenkov tied proceedings at 72-72.

An 8-2 push with two minutes remaining was the difference for Olympiacos, who won the final quarter 28-18, with the first three decided by five points or less, in a titanic battle that showcased the very best of the EuroLeague.

Shaquielle McKissic paced Olympiacos with 18 points.

And while the action was thrilling on the court, the buzz, off the court was also of note due to the arrival of Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant with four minutes played in the first quarter of the pivotal Game 4 last Friday.

From there, the narrative of the entire series changed. Durant – a team-mate of Monaco guard Mike James from last season – was also in attendance for the deciding fifth game in Piraeus.

James, who has emerged as the leader of the Monaco outfit this season, led all scorers in vain with 24 points.

Top-seeded Barcelona avoided one of the biggest EuroLeague upsets in recent memory to punch their ticket at the expense of Bayern Munich, scoring an 81-72 win in Game 5.

Nicolas Laprovittola paced the Catalan giants with 26 points and an overall 3-2 series win.

EuroLeague champions from 2019, Anadolu Efes secured their place in the Final Four thanks to a 3-1 series win over Milano, capped off with a 75-70 win in Istanbul.

And Real Madrid swept Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-0 in the other EuroLeague playoff encounter with an 87-76 win in Israel eventually securing their spot.

EuroLeague semi-finals (Thursday May 19)

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

Anadolu Efes vs. Olympiacos

EuroLeague championship game (Saturday May 21)

Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

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