By Panos Katsiroympas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve reached the moment we’ve all been waiting for. After a sensational Top 16, the time has come to take a look at the big knockout battles that will take 4 out of the 8 teams to the Promise Land, or else, the Final Four in Madrid. Eurohoops, and more specifically, the Magnifying Glass, will try to analyze the 4 pairs, all the key points and the players “barometers” in these four games.
It’s Real Mardid against Dusan Ivkovic’s Efes, with the Madrilenos hoping to be ‘present’ at the big encounter of the final four that will take place at home.
The Madrilenos have had a good season, with good numbers in offense but with some ups and downs too. Their structure, especially in terms of their bigmen, was troubling, however Real is here once again, ready to fight their way to the top of Europe.
The Turks on the other side started out the tournament with big dreams, bought one of the best guards, Heurtel, before the Top 16, but even so they were not very convincing and qualified literally at the last moment.
Real’s offense. Laso’s team has the best offense in the Euroleague and at the same time the best offensive ratio from all the teams that are still competing in the tournament. Efes’s defense on the other hand, seemed a lot worse in the Top 16. It’s telling that in the 1st round the Turkish side conceded fewer than 70 points, while in the Top 16 they got to the point where they conceded more than 80 on average. If Real’s offensive productivity is not contained and the Turks cannot find their defensive potion, they’ll have little luck.
Pace. Real loves to run, to execute at every chance, even after a pass or a screen. They are the team with the most possessions per game. The more the defense restrains Real’s execution when they are in possession the more chances they have of being successful at defending. If Efes can reduce Real’s executions in transition or intermediate offenses and don’t allow them room to run in, they can still have hope.
Rebounds and possessions. Real have an inclination when it comes to rebounds and this is how they increase their possessions and their scoring. The Spaniards have an average of 11 offensive rebounds per game. In the two games the two teams played against each other in the 1st round Efes managed to keep Real under 10 offensive rebounds and under 70 possessions in total. In Madrid Real got more offensive rebounds than Efes, got their possessions up to 75 and won with a 20-point margin.
Defense along the perimeter. Real’s firepower is along the perimeter. From positions 1 and 2 Real gets 60% of their points and 75% of the assists they distribute in every game, from the quartet of Llull, Sergio Rodriguez, Rudy and Carroll. Efes have players that play good defense along the perimeter like Draper, Janning, Balbay. The question is whether they can contain them.
Rudy and Sergio
They are the two players that essentially control most plays, make most of the decisions and are generally the barometer of the Madrilenos in most games. When both are in good shape and especially when the 1st includes a team-spirit element in his game, Real looks unbeatable.
Heurtel and Lasme
The French guard is very important when it comes to calling the shots and the offensive part of Ivkovic’s team. His ascent has been rapid in the last few games and he’s already the best card Efes have in the creative and execution parts. Lasme, on the other hand, is a key player since he is the best defensive bigman in Efes’s roster and he has to be prepared to contain Real Madrid’s explosive guards. Maybe he’s the only one in his team that can do this.
Common sense and the way the teams looked in the Top 16 point to the conclusion that Real is the indisputable favorite. We’re going with this verdict and we’ll say qualification for the Spaniards in 3-1.