Road to the Playoffs: Khimki Moscow Region
Coach Georgios Bartzokas took the Khimki coaching reins over the summer and was dealt a squad that featured many new faces. The previous season's EuroCup MVP, Alexey Shved, returned as the go-to guy and has yet to disappoint.
Khimki opened some eyes with a 3-0 start to the season, though there were those who discounted those results because all three wins were at home. When Shved scored 20 in a Round 5 road win at Real Madrid, notice was taken. A Round 6 triumph over another future playoff side, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz, had Khimki tied for first place in the standings.
After a three-game losing streak saw Khimki drop in the standings, the team set a club record with 17 three-pointers in rout of Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Still, a Round 15 defeat at the hands of FC Barcelona Lassa planted the team at the edge of the playoff zone with an 8-7 record midway through the regular season.
Khimki won its first two road games of the second half of the regular season and after it defeated both Zalgiris Kaunas and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens during a three-game winning streak, Khimki was part of a four-way tie for fourth place.
Back-to-back losses caused Khimki to slide in the standings before it met Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in a crucial Round 26 encounter. Anthony Gill rose to the occasion with a personal best 24 points and Shved delivered his first double-double in the EuroLeague as Khimki outlasted Maccabi.
Malcolm Thomas and Shved shined in a Round 27 road win at Efes that clinched Khimki's playoff spot with three games to spare. It is the first time the club has ever reached the EuroLeague playoffs.
Khimki slumped to close the regular season with three consecutive defeats, including a loss to league leader — and future playoff opponent – CSKA Moscow. However, the team also played out the final stretch without James Anderson, Tyler Honeycutt or Marko Todorovic.
A 16-14 record left Khimki ranked eighth for the regular season. Despite its record, if Khimki is able to return to full strength before its playoff series, led by Shved, the league’s top offensive force, Khimki still has plenty to offer.