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EuroLeague Final: 3 key factors in Panathinaikos vs Real Madrid clash

Real Madrid and Panathinaikos meet in a EuroLeague Final for the first time in the history in a clash that suggests to be a special occassion for both of them.

Aside from the Final fever, Panathinaikos has returned to a EuroLeague championship game for the first time in 13 years, while Real Madrid want to become the third team to go back-to-back in the last 15 years.

The Whites dominated Olympiacos in the semi-final taking a first-half 25-point advantage over the last season’s EuroLeague finalist to put them away, while Panathinaikos clamped Fenerbahce and made the final push in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Here are three thoughts to have in your mind ahead of Sunday’s finale to the EuroLeague season.

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Kendrick Nunn thrives in big occasions for Panathinaikos

Kendrick Nunn is playing on a different level than his peers since he joined Panathinaikos in October. He came to Europe hungry and ready to make the difference becoming the closer of this Panathinaikos team.

The former Rookie of the Year award finalist has been the biggest acquisition of Panathinaikos team this season and the man that changed the club fortunes. Pana had many ups and downs before Nunn as the team was unable to find a steady scoring threat.

Nunn and Sloukas has been Panathinaikos offensive initiators as it was proved in the semi-final win vs. Fener.

The former Miami Heat guard scored Panathinaikos first basket in the game and had six of his team’s 17 points in the final quarter as the Green outscored Fener 17-7.

Real Madrid’s ferocious pick & roll users

One of the great attributes of this Real Madrid team has been the ability to execute in pick&roll situations. Facundo Campazzo is the best passer in the league, while Sergio Rodriguez and Sergio Llull are coming off the bench to put the veteran touches.

In the first half against Olympiacos, the Whites were ferocious, executing their offense perfectly and creating open shots.

Olympiacos’ bigs found it hard to follow Madrid’s perimeter players as Mario Hezonja and Dzanan Musa were lurking in the perimeter ready to shoot the ball.

As Olympiacos head coach Giorgos Bartzokas explained here after the semi-final, you can’t stop Real Madrid from making plays in pick&roll situations, you can only make it tough for them.

The rebounding battle will determine the winner

Both teams will need to be on edge going into a one-and-done game in the Uber Arena. Real Madrid has size to rebound in every position and they are time that they seem impenetrable due to their long arms.

That said, Kostas Sloukas will have to be at his best as he has a history of having a tough time scoring when the big wings and centers pushing him away from his comfort zone.

Real Madrid outrebounded Olympiacos 19-6 in the opening half and got many second chance points as the Reds were unable to block out against their bigger opponents. Real Madrid was pushing Moustapha Fall and Nikola Milutinov out in the perimeter.

Panathinaikos will have the same issue and putting their bodies to block the way to Real Madrid’s soaring rebounders.

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