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Bayern in playoff duel with surprise team Crailsheim

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The appropriate celebrations are over and Monday was a day off- but since Tuesday, the FC Bayern basketball players have been dedicating themselves again to the next goal: the BBL playoffs for the German championship in 2021. The new German Cup winner also wants to have a say in this title notwithstanding an already unforgettable 2020/2021 season, which club president Herbert Hainer assessed after Sunday's final triumph over Alba Berlin (85:79): "This season is already a huge success thanks to the outstanding performances in the EuroLeague and now the Cup win."

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The knockout round in the easyCredit BBL will begin on Wednesday after Munich finished the regular season in fourth place. Their opponents in the playoff quarterfinals are the Merlins from Crailsheim, who finished tied for fifth in points (48-20) with Bayern and reached the postseason for the first time ever. The first two opening games of the best-of-five series will take place at the Audi Dome - Wednesday (May 19) at 20:30 and Friday at 19:00 before heading to the Arena Hohenlohe for the first time on Sunday. MagentaSport will broadcast everything live, as always.

The Merlins: self-confident and with a soft spot for threes

Coach Trinchieri, who studied the Crailsheimers by video the night after the Cup victory with a glass of red wine and Monday morning appeared naturally (and not at all tired) in the office, expects an intense series after the physical and mental stress of the past weeks. "We will play against a very good team that is very well coached. I would be satisfied if it was one to one after the first two games," said the 52-year-old Cup-winning coach.

In terms of personnel, the Italian will probably be able to rely on his top four squad, although Zan Mark Sisko (five stitches to his lower lip in the locker room during the final) and MVP Vladimir Lucic (twisted ankle and blow to the calf) still have the two tough cup games from the weekend in their bones. Nick Weiler-Babb (torn tendon in the foot) remains out, captain Nihad Djedovic (rehab after knee surgery) began on Monday with individual training.

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Playoff opponent Crailsheim is missing Tim Coleman and Haywood Highsmith to injury but there is a chance of a comeback for Jermaine Haley. The Hakro Merlins around the outgoing coach Tuomas Iisalo go with usual self-confidence into the duel, "Bayern has the individual class and enormous depth in the squad. But Crailsheim has the better team play and team structure," reports the club's own media before the game.

On the court, Crailsheim relies mainly on speed and shots from beyond the arc and the three-point rate is 38.2 percent. A lot goes through playmaker Trae Bell-Haynes the fourth-best scorer of the regular season (16.8 ppg) and top provider of assists with 7.2 per game. Re-signed center Bogdan Radosavljevic (11.3 ppg), Belgian Elias Lasisi (11.0), who was acquired from Bamberg, and forward Jeremy Jones (9.1), who has been entrusted with a bigger role over the course of the season, are the most offensively potent forces on an athletically-agile team.

 

More facts about the playoff start in 2021

Of the eleven duels with the Merlins so far, Bayern has won ten, including a cup game on the way to winning the 2021 title. An overtime loss was the home game at the end of January (105-103) in the Audi Dome after two EuroLeague appearances during the week in Moscow. However, by winning 79-74 on the road in March, the FCBB secured the direct comparison for home advantage, which was ultimately decisive in the event of a points tie.

The 2021 playoffs will be played in a 2-2-1 rhythm for the first time: The better-placed team will start with two home games followed by two away games if necessary, before a possible fifth game returns, in this specific case to the Audi Dome. In the final series, games will be played in an all-two-day rhythm. The German champion is to be decided on June 15 at the latest. Thus, in the most extreme case, the German champion would have to play 15 games in 27 days.

The competition: defending champions Berlin, Cup winners Bayern and main round winners Ludwigsburg, who have been undefeated at home for two years now (only four losses on the season), are named as favorites. The other playoff matchups are Ludwigsburg (1.) - Bamberg (8.), Berlin (2.) - Hamburg (7.) and Oldenburg (3.) - Ulm (6.). The winner of the Bayern/Crailsheim duel will therefore meet the winner of the Ludwigsburg series in the semi-finals.

The FCBB is playing its tenth BBL season - each time since it was promoted again it has reached the knockout phase, which lasts several weeks. After the playoff premiere in 2012 (2-3 in the quarterfinals against Atland), the have always reached at least the semifinals, four times they have reached the final and three times have won the championship (2014, 2018, 2019). Corona's 2020 season ended in the first round of the shortened Final10 at the Audi Dome (157-160 after two games against Ludwigsburg; Crailsheim finished tenth in the final tournament).

Public Viewing: The falling incidence figures finally make a community experience possible again for FC Bayern Basketball, even if not yet in the Audi Dome: in cooperation with Magenta Sport, the FCBB is offering a public viewing for the first away game at the Merlins on Sunday, May 23, in the picture-perfect open-air cinema at Munich's Olympiasee. Admission to the "Kino am Olympiasee" is from 17:00 in any weather, tickets are only available online at www.kinoamolympiasee.de

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