Maccab i Tel Aviv forward Devin Smith has been crucial to the yellow-and-blue’s perfect 3-0 start in the Euroleague Top 16, averaging 14.7 points and 10 rebounds in the stage’s first three games..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv is confident of building on its recent offensive improvement and extending its perfect start to the Euroleague Top 16 as it hosts Partizan Belgrade at Nokia Arena on Thursday night.
Despite ending the regular season top of Group D with an 8-2 record, Maccabi’s offensive play left plenty to be desired.
The yellow-and-blue was ranked only ninth in the competition in the regular season with 76.4 points per game, scoring more than 80 points just once in 10 contests.
The Top 16 has been a completely different story, with Maccabi upgrading its efficiency on offense on the way to three convincing victories and a 3-0 start to Group F.
Tel Aviv has scored between 85 and 90 points in its three encounters in the Top 16 to date, averaging almost 11 points more than in the regular season (87.3 ppg), while also improving its field-goal average from 58.7 percent to 65.3%.
After turning the ball over 13.4 times per game in the regular season, Maccabi has also crucially reduced its sloppiness (7.3 topg), which is not only benefiting its offense, but also limiting the scoring opportunities of its opponents.
Maccabi will be aiming to continue that trend at Nokia on Thursday when it targets its 15th consecutive victory over all competitions and eighth straight Euroleague win.
Partizan advanced to the Top 16 despite ending the regular season with a 3-7 record and also lost its first two games in the second stage. However, it enters Thursday’s showdown on the back of a stunning 73-72 win over CSKA Moscow last week.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led the team with 27 points, improving his average for the season to a team-high 15.7 points per game.
Bogdanovic is one of four players Partizan is built around, with Tarence Kinsey (13.3 ppg, 4.6 rgp), Dragan Milosavljevic (12.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Joffrey Lauvergne (11.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg) also all averaging more than 30 minutes of action per game.