This article is part of our EuroLeague Primer series.
- The Zalgiris at Panathinaikos game scheduled for Thursday was postponed because Panathinaikos will not have the minimum eight players available.
- Barcelona's Cory Higgins and Sergi Martinez will return to action Thursday.
- Baskonia's Alec Peters is set to make his season debut Thursday. The team also announced that Landry Nnoko will not play in Round 18 for disciplinary purposes.
- Zenit's Jordan Mickey will be available for Thursday's game, but Arturas Gudaitis and Tyson Carter will not play.
- Ognjen Dobric and Dejan Davidovac remain out for Red Star in Round 18.
- It was announced during the second quarter of Thursday's game between Efes and UNICS that Vasilije Micic will not play due to an ankle injury.
- John Brown will suit up for UNICS on Thursday, but Tonye Jekiri will not.
- Efes' Krunoslav Simon will not play Thursday.
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Best Bets for Success: The final day of EuroLeague games in 2021 will start with a bang, as the team that won the title this year takes on the squad that has arguably been the biggest surprise this season. To add to the entertainment, there should be plenty of scoring, as the over/under on this game is roughly 10 points other than the next three below. If that wasn't enough, this game also features four of the seven priciest players on the DraftKings board. The most expensive option is Lorenzo Brown, and for good reason, as he averaged a whopping 37.1 DraftKings points over his last seven appearances. Not far behind is teammate Mario Hezonja, who averaged 34.5 points on the same website over the same period. Both players are likely to produce again, particularly if their two injured teammates are unavailable. If you're only going with one of the two, though, Hezonja could have a slight edge given the cost savings and the fact Efes ranks bottom-3 against forwards in all of the points, rebounds and assists categories. Thanks to a 7-2 stretch the Turkish team finds itself just one game behind UNICS in the standings, and that run has been spurred by none other than Shane Larkin and Vasilije Micic. Both players are returning some of the most value on the board, but Larkin is unquestionably the hotter of the two, averaging nearly 10 more fantasy points over the last seven Rounds.
DFS Darlings: Relatively quietly, Tibor Pleiss has been nearly as productive as his talented teammates this month, recording at least 19.8 DraftKings points six times over his last seven appearances. He looks to be one of the better upper-end values on the board, as UNICS is allowing the most rebounds to opposing centers and could be without their top two big men in Round 18. You can also consider Rodrigue Beaubois on the Efes side, as although he has slowed some he is now as cheap as he has come since Round 1. If either or both of Brown and Jekiri sit, a significant number of opportunities will open up on a team that has really seen only five players produce regularly this month. It's not entirely clear who would snag the open minutes, but Andrey Vorontsevich would seem the most likely to do so, and he runs just $6,400 and will enjoy the same matchup Hezonja has. You could also look at a $5,700 O.J. Mayo, who seems to have settled into a regular role, and if Jekiri is out, there is at least some dart throw potential in Artem Klimenko, who is the only other center on the UNICS roster.
Best Bets for Success: The next game up has "grinder" written all over it, and the oddsmakers agree, as the over/under is roughly six points lower than the total expected in the other three contests. The best player on both teams – Jordan Loyd for Zenit and Nikola Kalinic on the Red Star side – will face a tough test in this one, as Red Star has been tougher on guards than any other squad and Zenit is now challenging UNICS as the toughest matchup for opposing forwards. No one on either team seems safer than those two players, but that does not mean you need to go with them in Thursday's contests. For what it's worth, Loyd put up 15 a season-low 15.3 DraftKings points against his former team last time they met, and Kalinic was also held below his average, thanks mainly to his seven turnovers.
DFS Darlings: With tough matchups on either side and few points expected, there aren't a lot of value plays to consider. However, Red Star does rank bottom-3 against forwards in four of the six counting stats, so all of Mateusz Ponitka, Alex Poythress and Andrey Zubkov will carry some degree of appeal if Mickey remains sidelined. Nate Wolters is returning some of the most value on the board at $8,100, and he could take over the lead on the offensive end if Kalinic is contained. Nikola Ivanovic is returning even more value on average than Wolters, making him a player to go after if Dobric remains out.
Status Check: Joffrey Lauvergne (ZAL), Zoran Dragic (ZAL), Paulius Jankunas (ZAL), Regimantas Miniotas (ZAL), Nemanja Nedovic (PAO), Howard Sant-Roos (PAO), Jeremy Evans (PAO), Leonidas Kaselakis (PAO)
Best Bets for Success: This contest features the two teams residing at the bottom of the standings, but pride will still be on the line for these two proud fanbases, and it should at least be a close game, as the visitors are favored by only one point. The home team will be without its head coach and likely all or several of the players above due to positive COVID-19 tests, but they will still have their best two players available in Daryl Macon and Georgios Papagiannis. Few players have been as hot as Papagiannis, who averaged 12.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 30 minutes per game over the last six Rounds. Macon has come back to Earth, but he is averaging some of the most value on the board at just $8,900 and put up 36.0 DraftKings points last time these teams met. He could also be extra busy if both Nedovic and Sant-Roos are sidelined. Panathinaikos is the only team limiting centers to a field goal percentage lower than 50 percent, but they are also letting players at that position get up the most shots and grab the second-most rebounds, which bodes well for Zalgiris' top option, Josh Nebo. He was coming off an injury last time these teams squared off, but he is back at full speed now and has run off at least 22.3 DraftKings points in three straight contests.
DFS Darlings: The Greek team will presumably be down between 3-to-4 rotation pieces, which will open up some opportunities for the rest of the players on the roster. Ioannis Papapetrou is the most likely to capitalize, and he checks in at an affordable $7,700 on DraftKings. Okaro White will also be plenty appealing at $7,100, and Lefteris Bochoridis should spend enough time on the court to have a chance at returning 3x value. Panathinaikos ranks bottom-4 against guards in five of the six counting stats, so someone in Zalgiris' backcourt figures to deliver. Lukas Lekavicius seems the most likely to do so despite his goose egg his last time out, but you could gamble on either Mantas Kalnietis or Tai Webster, as neither checks in above $6,500.
Best Bets for Success: The last game on the docket in 2021 features two Spanish squads, and at first glance it appears it could be a lopsided matchup, as Barcelona sits atop the standings and takes on a team with nine fewer wins. However, the visitors will not even be close to full strength, and it Peters plays Baskonia will be as healthy as it has been this season. Barcelona is still favored, though, and that's because they have the best player in the league up to this point in Nikola Mirotic, who dominated last time these teams met. While Baskonia will have all or nearly all of their top players available, several of them were slowed by illnesses of late, so their top options for Round 18 will be Steven Enoch and Wade Baldwin. Enoch's stellar run began against Barcelona, and Baldwin showed flashes of his former self his last time out, putting 46.5 DraftKings points on the board.
DFS Darlings: With Barcelona down a number of key contributors, including Calathes, Nicolas Laprovittola should continue to shine. Baskonia has not been too stout against forwards, so Nigel Hayes-Davis and Rolands Smits will be worth a look, and if Higgins remains out, Dante Exum and Rokas Jokubaitis will also warrant consideration. At just $7,500, Rokas Giedraitis – who has landed in the section above several times this season – stands out on the Baskonia side.
Per an official announcement from the EuroLeague, "The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 18 game between LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and FC Bayern Munich, originally scheduled to be played on Thursday, December 30, has been suspended. ASVEL requested the suspension after several team members tested positive for COVID-19, which leaves it without the minimum eight players on the Authorization List fit to play."