CSKA Moscow secured homecourt advantage in the playoffs with a commanding 97-72 local derby home win over Khimki Moscow Region.
CSKA was in control from the beginning and never trailed, moving steadily into a 47-34 lead by half-time. The gap kept on growing, reaching 30 late in the third quarter, and the Reds cruised home the rest of the way. Michael Eric scored 10 points in the first quarter in his total of 14, and fellow big man Johannes Voigtmann was CSKA’s top performer with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Iffe Lundberg also scored 16, Darrun Hilliard had 13, Toko Shengelia scored 11 and Will Clyburn added 10. Jordan Mickey led Khimki with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 steals, Sergey Karasev scored 15 and Errick McCollom netted 14. CSKA improves to 22-10, while Khimki sinks to 4-28.
Inside scores from Shengelia and Eric got CSKA 6-0 ahead early, with Khimki held scoreless for more than 3 minutes before Karasev hit consecutive triples to tie it up. Eric stayed hot by adding three more close-range scores, and a corner triple from Voigtmann stretched the lead to 15-8. Voigtmann added two more inside baskets, including a brutal dunk, but free throws from Mickey and an Evgeny Voronov buzzer-beating three-pointer pulled Khimki back to 21-17 after ten minutes. Clyburn’s driving layup and a Lundberg transition basket opened the second quarter, before McCollom got his first points with a jumper. Janis Strelnieks and McCollom traded triples and baskets were evenly exchanged over the next few minutes, before triples from Lundberg and Clyburn gave CSKA a 37-28 edge. Eric came back off the bench to take the lead to double figures, and free throws extended the interval advantage to 47-34 despite a mid-range buzzer beating jumper from Mickey.
Eric started the second half with a bang as he threw down a huge slam, and Lundberg stretched the lead to 51-34. Karasev hit back with a three-point play followed by a floater, but Lundberg struck from deep and Shengelia added a layup and one for a 57-39 advantage. Voigtmann added another three-point play to take the lead past 20. Hilliard scored three consecutive baskets to make it 69-40, before Evgeny Valiev finally ended the 18-1 run with a tip-in. Hilliard added a three-point play and Alexander Khomenko struck a long two, making it 76-47 at the end of the third. McCollom pulled it closer with 7 consecutive points as Khimki started the fourth quarter with a 0-9 run, but Shengelia and Voigtmann steadied CSKA to ensure there would be no dramatic Khimki comeback. Mickey tried to keep it respectable with two more scores, but Lundberg in penetration and Daniel Hackett from the corner extended the margin to 90-65. There was little action in the latter stages with the outcome already well and truly decided.
Inside dominance for CSKA
CSKA focused all its early efforts inside, not attempting a three-point shot until 5 minutes had been played. And that set the tone for the rest of the game, with the home side converting an outstanding 32-of-44 two-point attempts (72.7%). Those 32 two-pointers were CSKA’s highest of the season.
Mid-season signings step up
Michael Eric was the dominant figure in the opening stages, scoring 10 of CSKA’s first 12 points. The center was held back after picking up his third foul early in the second half, but his total of 14 points was his best for the team since signing in mid-season. Iffe Lundberg also recorded his best figures in a CSKA uniform with 16 points and 4 assists.
Itoudis spreads the load
CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis used his team’s huge third quarter advantage as an opportunity to spread playing time across the roster. 11 players had at least 12 minutes on the floor, and the other member of the roster, Alexander Khomenko, was given 6:18 playing time. No CSKA player spent more than 22 minutes in the game.
CSKA plays its penultimate game of the regular season at home to LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne next Thursday, while Khimki is back in action on Tuesday for a rearranged Round 24 meeting at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv.