VTB United League
CSKA Moscow hosts Khimki Moscow Region in a regular-season match-up.
USH CSKA (capacity 5,000), Moscow, Russia
7:30 PM (7:30 MSK), January 14, 2019
Match TV, VTB-League.com
Face to Face
CSKA and Khimki have played 100 times and the Army Men hold a commanding 83-17 lead. Many of the meetings between these two teams have been instant VTB League and Russian basketball classics. But that has not been the case over the past few seasons. The Army Men have completely dominated Khimki, including in the postseason and the EuroLeague. Counting European competition, the Red and Blue have won 18 straight vs. Khimki.
Last season’s playoff finalists enter Monday’s game as the two top-seeded teams in the League once again. CSKA (12-0) is undefeated, while Khimki (10-1) is close behind. The Army Men, however, have a chance to open up a sizable gap in the standings with a win.
Of course, Khimki will be very motivated to snap its 18-game losing streak to CSKA. The Yellow and Blue’s last victory over CSKA in the VTB League came way back in February 2015.
Balance of Power
Both teams played twice in the EuroLeague this week. Khimki opened with a win over Fenerbahce in overtime, 84-78. The win should give Khimki confidence, even though they went on to lose to Anadolu Efes in Turkey, 81-72. Both games were played without star Alexey Shved, showing that the team has learned to overcome his absence, at least to some degree.
CSKA also went 1-1 this week. After a comprehensive 80-65 win over Darussafaka, Dimitris Itoudis and co. suffered a blowout 93-76 defeat to Maccabi in Moscow. The Army Men had not lost at home to the Israeli side since 2004 and Itoudis said after the game that his team took a step backward. On Monday, playing another Yellow and Blue team, Moscow will try to take two steps forward.
Khimki welcomed Anthony Gill back to the court this week as the big man recorded 12 points and seven rebounds vs. Fenerbahce. The team’s other star, Alexey Shved, is out of his cast, but continues to rehab and will miss the game vs. CSKA.
CSKA and Khimki are at opposite ends of the spectrum on free-throw accuracy. The Army Men average a League-best 82.1% from the line, while Khimki is a League-worst 72.2%.
After Vitaly Fridzon’s move to Lokomotiv-Kuban, the Army Men are without a single former Khimki player on the roster. The Yellow and Blue, however, are represented by three ex-CSKA players: Sergey Monia (2002-2005), Egor Vyaltsev (2002-2004) and Alexey Shved (2005-2012).
Kyle Hines vs. Jordan Mickey.
In Shved and Gill’s absence, Mickey has been the most reliable option on offense, as evidenced by two recent outings: 20 points, four rebounds vs. Zenit and 14 points, nine rebounds against Efes in the EuroLeague.
Hines, one of Europe’s top defensive specialists, will play a big role in neutralizing the athletic big man. He’s also earned a reputation as a Khimki-killer. The Army Men captain often puts up big numbers vs. Moscow Region. In the December meeting with CSKA in the EuroLeague, Hines finished with seven points and five assists, good for second in efficiency rating on his team with 14.