CSKA Moscow dispatched Nizhny Novgorod in an enthralling contest to open the VTB United League semi-final series between the two clubs. The Russian giants took an 86-79 victory at home to set up the remainder of the series. However, many will remember that this is the final of last season’s VTB, and while CSKA has a superior historical record over Nizhny and won that final, there is no doubt that the Novgorod outfit knows how to get under the skin of the Army Men from Moscow.
That was in evidence again in Game 1 as Nizhny put on a stirring comeback to make it very interesting in the final minutes. Yes, CSKA Moscow won the game, but don’t think that Nizhny Novgorod does pose a threat as the series continues. Following Khimki’s win over Lokomotiv yesterday, the two top teams in the VTB regular season have taken leads in their respective series.
Nizhny took an early lead and looked to be playing a hustling game, but CSKA used plenty of experience and peppered the paint to take a 23-19 lead at the first buzzer. In the second period the hosts tightened in their defensive arch and restricted Nizhny’s scoring, with the Novgorod contingent relying on percentage shots from the perimeter to stay on the board. That meant CSKA Moscow could win the second quarter 26-16 and pace to a 49-35 lead through halftime.
Things did not get better for Nizhny at the start of the third as Euroleague Final Four contender CSKA stayed hot under the bucket to go 17 points ahead during the period. However, the visitors finally sparked into life as Taylor Rochestie influenced a 0-12 run that got them right back into the contest. Nizhny won the third 15-26 to make it 64-61 through thirty minutes. The game was decided in the fourth as Nizhny finally took the lead and then traded it with CSKA through the middle minutes. With 30 seconds on the clock the Moscow club found itself three points ahead and on the charity strip. Sasha Kaun drained 100% and ensured the hosts would win the game.
As well as pouring in the game winning shots, Kaun also topped the scoring for CSKA with 19 points and was followed by Aaron Jackson and Milos Teodosic with 14 points each. Andrey Vorontsevich hit 12 points in the win, and Andrei Kirilenko managed to add 10 points.
Rochestie had a game high 21 points for Nizhny, while Artsiom Parakhouski scored 14 points. Trey Thompkins claimed the only double-double of the contest with 10 points and 10 boards.