Round 17 Preview: Maccabi Tel Aviv at Zalgiris
Round 17 Preview: Maccabi Tel Aviv at Zalgiris

Maccabi Tel Aviv at Zalgiris

Date: 1/2
Time: 7:00 PM CET

Game Preview

Injuries are the name of the game for both Maccabi and Zalgiris at the moment, as key players on both squads are either uncertain or unavailable altogether for the first game of Round 17. Zalgiris overcame its absences last week and won its first game since Round 6. Maccabi was defeated its last time out, but the loss came both against first-place Efes and on the heels of five straight victories. Maccabi's record is far better than Zalgiris', but Thursday's matchup could be more even than expected if some absences continue and others do not.

Injuries

Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv

Tarik Black - OUT - Knee

12/26 12:13 AM IST - Black (knee) could be out anywhere from six more weeks to three more months, according to teamscout.net. It was announced earlier Wednesday that Black would miss another month of action, but Black himself revealed that he will be out longer than that. Othello Hunter will presumably serve as Maccabi's top center in Black's absence, and given the length of Black's absence, the team could pursue another player to provide more depth down low.

Omri Casspi - OUT - Knee

12/25 8:12 PM IST - Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv announced Wednesday that Casspi (knee) will remain sidelined for at least one more month, Eurohoops.net reports. Both Casspi and Tarik Black will be shut down through late January with neither player showing much improvement in his recovery from a knee injury. The loss of Casspi – who will continue to undergo physical therapy before being re-evaluated in four weeks – is especially crushing, as the 31-year-old had been averaging 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 17.9 minutes per game through his first seven EuroLeague outings.

John Dibartolomeo - OUT - Pectoral

12/6 9:04 PM IST - Dibartolomeo is expected to miss up to six months with a torn mectoral muscle suffered in Thursday's victory over Bayern Munich, according to Maccabi's official website. Dibartolomeo's timeline all but rules him out for the season, and will leave Maccabi without its captain and dependable guard off the bench. His absence – coupled with that of fellow guard Nate Wolters (hip) – figures to open up opportunities for youngsters Yovel Zoosman, Elijah Bryant, and Deni Avdija.

Othello Hunter - OUT - Undisclosed

1/2 10:53 PM IST - Hunter (undisclosed) will not play Thursday against Zalgiris, according to Roi Cohen of Sport5. It's still not clear what is ailing Hunter, but whatever it is will prevent him from taking the court Thursday for the first time this season.

Scottie Wilbekin - OUT - Ankle

1/2 10:52 PM IST - Wilbekin (ankle) will not play Thursday against Zalgiris, according to Roi Cohen of Sport5. Wilbekin was able to travel to Lithuania with his teammates, but the injury he suffered in Round 16 will keep him off the court in Round 17.

Nate Wolters - OUT - Hip

1/2 9:02 PM IST - Wolters (hip) has resumed taking jump shots, according to Maccabi's official Twitter account. Wolters will not play in Round 17 and is expected to miss another couple weeks, but it appears his recovery is progressing as planned.

Zalgiris

Marius Grigonis - OUT - Ankle

12/3 11:42 PM IST - Grigonis will undergo surgery on his injured ankle and is expected to be out about three months, according to Zalgiris' official website. Grigonis was able to play through the pain for some time, but he was unable to overcome the injury, so it was ultimately decided to send him under the knife. Grigonis is second on his team in scoring in EuroLeague play, so Zalgiris will be without one of its top players for several months. KC Rivers and Thomas Walkup are the favorites to fill the void until Grigonis returns.

Rokas Jokubaitis - OUT - Ankle

12/12 10:01 PM IST - Jokubaitis will miss the next 3-to-4 weeks with an ankle injury, according to basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas. It's not clear how Jokubaitis suffered the injury, but it will likely sideline him until 2020. Jokubaitis has played just five total minutes this season, so his absence should not have a notable effect on Zalgiris' rotation.

Jock Landale - GTD - Ankle

12/30 10:30 PM IST - Landale (ankle) did not play in Monday's domestic league game, according to Zalgiris' official Twitter account. Landale missed Zalgiris' last EuroLeague game because of his injury, and he will miss another contest for the same reason. His chances of playing in his club's next EuroLeague game Thursday are uncertain, but he will have just a couple more days to rest and recover.

Edgaras Ulanovas - GTD - Calf

12/30 10:33 PM IST - Ulanovas (calf) did not play in Monday's domestic league game, according to Zalgiris' official Twitter account. Ulanovas played in Zalgiris' last EuroLeague game despite dealing with a sore calf, but he was unable to get on the court Monday. It's not clear if he suffered some sort of setback or if he is simply getting time to rest and recover, but he is not a lock to play in Zalgiris' next EuroLeague game Thursday.

Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv Probable Starters

G - Deni Avdija
G - Yovel Zoosman
F - Elijah Bryant
F - Quincy Acy
C - Jake Cohen

Zalgiris Probable Starters

G - Thomas Walkup
G - KC Rivers
F - Edgaras Ulanovas
F - Zach LeDay
C - Martinas Geben

Top Picks

(C) Scottie Wilbekin, MTA - Wilbekin will be the best available option Thursday if he takes the court, but with him missing the last five quarters over the last two games Maccabi played, that's certainly a big "if." Those hoping to include Wilbekin in Thursday's lineups will want to keep a close eye on his status prior to tip-off. *Editor's Note – Wilbekin has been ruled out for Round 17.

Thomas Walkup, ZAL - Zalgiris has needed Walkup to play a bigger role lately and he has thrived, averaging 12.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.2 steals over the last five EuroLeague games. Those numbers make him a prime candidate to occupy the captain's spot in Thursday's contest if Wilbekin is unable to play.

Othello Hunter, MTA - Hunter's availability for Thursday's game is uncertain, but he will be more than worthy of a roster spot if he takes the court. Since taking over as the regular starting center in Round 13 Hunter has averaged 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He should garner consideration for the captain's role should he play and Wilbekin sit. *Editor's Note – Hunter has been ruled out for Round 17.

Zach LeDay, ZAL - LeDay ceded some scoring opportunities to Jock Landale over the last few weeks, but he took advantage of Landale's absence last week and scored his most points since Round 3. It's not yet clear if Landale will play Thursday, but if he does not, expect LeDay to be plenty busy again.

Captaincy Options

  1. Thomas Walkup
  2. Zach LeDay

Dream11 Team

PG: Lukas Lekavicius

SG: Elijah Bryant, Tyler Dorsey

SF: Thomas Walkup (captain), Yovel Zoosman

PF: Quincy Acy

C: Zach LeDay, Jock Landale

Grand League Combination

Wilbekin, Walkup, LeDay, Avdija

Small League Combination

Wilbekin, Walkup, LeDay, Hunter

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Kevin O'Brien plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kevob100, DraftKings: kevob100.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin O'Brien
Kevin mans the Packers and Brewers beats and moonlights as RotoWire's Director of Operations.
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