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CSKA Moscow plays Khimki Moscow Region in the VTB United League playoff finals.


CSKA, 2014-15 Euroleague Final Four, 2013-14 VTB United League champion
Khimki, 2014-15 Eurocup champion, 2013-14 VTB United League quarterfinalist


Time & Location:
Game 1. USH CSKA, Moscow. 8:00 PM (8:00 PM MSK), June 3, 2015
Game 2. USH CSKA, Moscow. 8:00 PM (8:00 PM MSK), June 5, 2015
Game 3. BCMO Sports Complex, Khimki. 8:00 PM (8:00 PM MSK), June 8, 2015
Game 4. BCMO Sports Complex, Khimki. 8:00 PM (8:00 PM MSK), June 10, 2015 (if necessary)
Game 5. USH CSKA, Moscow. 1:00 PM (1:00 PM MSK), June 13, 2015 (if necessary)


Rossiya 2 (Russia), VTB-League.com


Regular Season:
CSKA: 1st place (26-4)
Khimki: 2nd place (25-5)


Face to Face
CSKA and Khimki have played 80 times. The Army Men hold a big advantage in the all-time series: 64-16. Prior to this season, the two teams had only crossed paths four times in the VTB United League. The Red-Blues won in Kaunas in the 2010 semifinals, 71-66, while Khimki took revenge a year later in Kazan, beating CSKA 66-64 to win the championship. During the 2013 playoffs, CSKA and Khimki met in the playoff semifinals. The series was an instant classic, going the distance as the Army Men pulled out a win in Game 5 on the road. CSKA went on to beat Lokomotiv-Kuban in the finals. Last season, Khimki won both regular season meetings, 92-87 and 90-87.

Earlier this season, CSKA blew out Khimki at home, 78-60. The return game in Khimki was much closer. Both teams topped 100 points with Khimki guard Tyrese Rice knocking down a game-winning three at the buzzer, 107-104.


Looking Back


The thriller in Khimki showed why there's no better rivalry in Russian basketball than the one between CSKA and Khimki. The game was decided in the final seconds. If these two teams go that hard in the regular season, what should we expect come the playoff finals?

CSKA needs another championship to ease the sting of its semifinal loss in the Euroleague Final Four. The only way now to make this season a success is to beat Khimki in the finals.

CSKA has won 12 straight Russian championships. In recent years, Khimki has been the biggest threat to the Army club's hegemony, but come up short every time, finishing second six times since 2006 and as well as losing to CSKA in the 2013 VTB United League semifinals. The Yellow-Blues won a Eurocup championship earlier this spring, but winning a league title would be huge for Rimas Kurtinaitis and co. Khimki would love to shed its runner-up status and finally become champion at home.


How healthy is Khimki's frontcourt?

Tyler Honeycutt hasn't played since April, James Augustine missed the entire series against Lokomotiv-Kuban, Paul Davis only played in Games 1 and 5 in the semifinals, Ruslan Pateev missed Game 5, while Maxim Sheleketo had to leave Game 5 early.

The Yellow-Blues rescued the series against Lokomotiv-Kuban in heroic fashion, adjusting their strategy while getting gutsy performances from Davis (who scored 18 points in 15 minutes in Game 5) and Pateev (who battled through an ankle injury in Game 4). Loko was also missing forward Anthony Randolph. CSKA's frontcourt, however, is at full strength. Dimitris Itoudis's men finished the semifinals on May 26 and have had plenty of time to rest and prepare for the finals.

After finishing the series with Lokomotiv, Davis promised that Khimki would give CSKA a fight, even if they were down to three men. No one doubts him. But how will it all end?


Nando de Colo (CSKA) vs. Petteri Koponen (Khimki).

The finals will feature a showdown between two of the league's top guards. De Colo debuted for CSKA this season and become just the 4th player in club history to score more than 800 points across all competitions. He looked his best in the VTB United League, where he was named MVP. Expect de Colo to add significantly to his point total in the upcoming series.

Khimki will counter with Petteri Koponen. The guard is enjoying the best season of his career. Much like San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, he provides a huge boost off the bench, helping run the offense and score points. Koponen's deadliest weapon is the three and he's often at his best when the game is on the line.

There will be a lot of interesting matchups on the court when CSKA and Khimki tip off on Wednesday night. One of the most intriguing will feature the league's MVP vs. the Sixth Man of the Year.


Tyrese Rice. Khimki has enjoyed two sensational game-winning buzzer-beaters against CSKA over the last two seasons: James Augustine in 2014 and Tyrese Rice in 2015. The Army Men tend to win more convincingly without any need for dramatics. Given the injury situation, Moscow Region isn't likely to enjoy any blowout wins in the finals. Khimki will need to grind out wins against a deeper CSKA squad. Fortunately, it's got just the right player for crunchtime in Tyrese Rice.

The American with the Montenegrin passport isn't just one of Europe's best point guards, he's also CSKA's kryptonite. Last year, Rice gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a win over the Army Men in the final seconds of the Euroleague semifinals, before going on to win the Final Four MVP. He did it again in February, shocking CSKA with a last-second 3-pointer. 



Don't expect either team to enjoy any easy wins. Khimki will give the ball to Tyrese Rice in crunchtime. He's got nerves of steel and knows how to beat CSKA.


Interesting Facts
– Vitaly Fridzon played for Khimki from 2004-2013 and served as team captain for many years.

– Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis (1981-82), guard Egor Vyaltsev (2003-04) and forward Sergey Monia (2002-05) previously played for CSKA.

– Viktor Khryapa and Sergey Monia started at Avtodor Saratov's minor league team, Khimik Engels, before joining Avtodor from 2000-2002. They are still good friends.

– CSKA and Khimki were in the top three during the regular season for points scored per game. The Army Men finished 2nd with 90.4 points; Khimki was 3rd at 88.3 points.

– Khimki led the league in assists per game (22.9). CSKA was 2nd with 21.4.



CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis:
– We are now starting the finals. We have prepared for this all season. Khimki is our opponent. They have a very strong team. Khimki won the Eurocup and won a tough series against Lokomotiv-Kuban, coming back from a deficit to make the finals. Everybody wants to play in the finals and we battled all season to earn the home court advantage. We would love for that to be a true advantage and for the fans to fill up the USH CSKA and get loud.


Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis:
– We had a day off after Game 5 of the semifinals against Lokomotiv. It was a tough week, after all. We are preparing, but the most important thing is to preserve that energy that we're playing with right now. Our practices haven't been that intense. We're just trying to figure out what we want and keep things easy. It looks like Augustine won't play against CSKA. Pateev and Davis are questionable. Everything depends on what the doctors say. CSKA has a very good squad and team. They are all top quality players and have played well this season without any major slumps. They got unlucky in the Euroleague Final Four, though I predicted that the Army Men would be champions with this roster.

Something didn't go quite right for them. CSKA has always had plenty of motivation and now it's doubled, since they need to win a title this season. First of all, the team is deep at point guard: de Colo, Jackson and Teodosic. Kaun and Hines do a good job under the basket and if our big men miss the first game, we'll have big problems on the glass. In general, I pay more attention to my own team rather than the opponent to get us ready mentally. I'm talking about the character we showed against Lokomotiv. This isn't our first time in the finals and we'd like to put on a good performance.


– The top two Russian teams right now are meeting in the VTB United League finals, – says UNICS and Russian national team head coach Evgeny Pashutin. – Even in Europe, there aren't many teams that can beat CSKA in a series. Given that Khimki is missing some centers, it's going to be very tough to get a foothold in this series. On the other hand, they showed in the series against Lokomotiv that they can handle that problem. We'll see. Anything is possible.

Against Nizhny Novgorod, CSKA showed that it's a dominant team. Everyone is healthy for the Army Men. They are all motivated, but nonetheless, I expect Khimki to be competitive. Of course, the fans would like to see it go five games. That would be a real treat.


Team Stats

90.4 Points 88.3
22.6/40.3 (56.0%) 2-pointers 22.1/39.97 (55.3%)
9.8/22.9 (42.6%) 3-pointers 9.6/24.4 (39.2%)
15.9/21.1 (75.5%) Free throws 15.2/18.7 (81.4%)
36.5 Rebounds 35.6
21.4 Assists 22.9
12.0 Turnovers 13.0
8.6 Steals 8.5
3.4 Blocks 3.8
19.2 Foul 21.3

Player Stats

Nando de Colo (14.8) Points Tyrese Rice (15.7)
Andrey Vorontsevich (5.3) Rebounds James Augustine (6.3)
Milos Teodosic (6.0) Assists Tyrese Rice (6.2)
Nando de Colo (1.5) Steals Tyrese Rice (1.3)
Kyle Hines (0.6) Blocks Ruslan Pateev (0.9)