By Panos Katsiroubas/ email@example.com
The “Magnifying Glass” is back. We had a great second week of action and here’s the low down of what happened on the courts of Euroleague, focusing more on the big games of Tel Aviv and Barcelona in which more than interesting stuff happened on the court.
Maccabi started the game with two clear targets. The first was to attack on Boban Marjanovic and the second try to press the ball and run quickly in offense in order to avoid the 5 vs 5 situations, in which Red Star plays clearly better defense.
In both of those goals they succeeded. With Schortsanitis from the first possession, they attacked the paint in order to wear down Marjanovic and put him into foul trouble. Schortsanitis scored in almost every possession in the first five minutes and created many problems for Red Star.
On the second clear target the Israeli team achieved the maximum. With Randle and Ohayon primarily they put a lot of pressure on the ball. They stole many balls in passes especially on the week side and that’s how they got their rhythm. Even from the defensive rebound Maccabi tried to run and not let the opponent’s defense set up. They opened many spaces and tried to attack from the early seconds of their possessions. A lot of movement and screens on and off the ball and isolations for Schortsanitis was the plan. Maccabi stole many balls and score almost half of their points in the first half in transition conditions.
In offense Red Star couldn’t find ways to pass the ball inside to their big guy. Maccabi defended well Marjanovic and took some risks to give some open shots to the Serbian team. In total Red Star hade 29 attempts for threes, despite having the most effective player in the paint. That was a success for Maccabi.
In the early stages of the second half, Red Star finally found some rhythm. With good defense, made shots and points in transition after some good defensive plays they took the lead. Kalinic helped a lot with his ability in transition and his good shooting selection.
Maccabi reacted after that run. Ohajon made some huge plays with penetrations and some great passes in the week side of the defense of Red Star for open shots from the forwards. Schortsanitis forced the defense to close in the paint and Maccabi took also another advantage, moved the ball and found the weaknesses of Red Star’s close out defense. The triangle of Ohajon, Randle and Schortsanitis were the key for Maccabi.
In the end it was a clear win for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Alongside with Olympiakos they did the best work on stopping Marjanovic, using a different way though. Maccabi took the advantage of having forwards like Randle that can attack in multiple ways and also can pass the ball consistently. Having Smith and Randle in the forwards position is a huge advantage for this team. Red Star lost two games because in parts of the games they lost their concentration in the defensive transition. After the 15-0 of Real Madrid in the third quarter the previous week, they let almost 30 points in transition from Maccabi. Solutions are needed from the coaching staff of Red Star.
Barcelona vs Panathinaikos
A big classic European derby took place in Barcelona between the host team and Panathinaikos. The game ended up with the win for the Catalan side but it was a contest in which Panathinaikos played really well for the biggest part of the game.
The Greens started the game having in mind to stop the plays from Tomic and protect their paint. Diamantidis always defended man to man the weakest offensive player of Barcelona on the court in order to step back and give extra help to the passes inside and the pick and roll plays of Barcelona. In the beginning of the game this was very effective, Satoransky didn’t try to take the open shots and it was almost a situation of four attacking against five in the offensive game of Barcelona.
Meanwhile Panathinaikos gained a psychological advantage after the good defensive effort and score after some big threes in offense. Those shot were produced mainly after pick ‘n’ roll and a pass outside in the perimeter or after a step pass to the center and then the extra pass outside.
Panathinaikos lost totally their concentration in the end of the first half and in the beginning of the second. The defense was not so tough anymore and Barcelona run some nice plays with many off ball screens in order to create opportunities for open shots for their guards. Abrines, Oleson and Hezonja all scored big time shots.
The biggest difference maker of the game, however, was Marcelinho Huertas and Panathinaikos did nothing in order to stop him from the moment he found an unbelievable offensive rhythm. The same tactic was used against Satoransky in the first half, Panathinaikos was giving the open shots to the Brazilian guard with a very defensive confrontation of the screen on the ball. Diamantidis was going behind the screen in order to stop the penetration of Tomic to the basket. After the two early threes, Barcelona changed their tactic in offense and started to run their plays from a difference point of creation, either from Oleson or Hezonja with Marcelinho playing like a wing, with a step pass to Tomic in order to force a double team with the help of Diamantidis. Tomic read the game excellently, made the right passes and created open threes for Marcelinho with a direct pass to him or after good ball movement in the close out defense of Panathinaikos.Barca run a +20 partial score in almost 13 minutes between the second and third quarter, the period that in the end gave them the victory.
In total we can say that Barcelona was saved from the good performance of Marcelinho that punished the defensive tactic of Panathinaikos but also from the good performance of the wing players and the excellent reading of Tomic who didn’t score too much but again was very important for his team. Panathinaikos achieved their defensive goal but they didn’t stop the x-factor Huertas either with a foul early in the possession or with an attacking hedge out from the moment he found rhythm.
Olympiakos vs Milano
Olympiakos for a second game in a row played total defense. We have seen unbelievable press on the ball, good defense in the week side and smart use of fouls. They didn’t give any easy baskets and this appears in the final score. With an average of 59,5 points Olympiakos has the best defense in Top16
The return of Printezis and Lojeski gave the Reds many offensive weapons. Post-up game, good shots from the weak side and better court vision. With the improvement of Sloukas, they create a variety of offensive options. Olympiakos had 24 assists with Spanoulis dishing only 4.
Milano is playing tragically in offense. We are tired of writing this every weak but this is the reality. They don’t move the ball at all. Gentile took 17 F/G attempts to score only 12 points with only 1 assist. Milano had only 6 turnovers and lost with 23. Something is very wrong in the chemistry of this team.
CSKA vs Laboral Kutxa
CSKA plays great in offense. They use all the advantages of their roster and create some very beautiful plays. Teodosic and De Colo start to create chemistry in offense. Milos is extremely dangerous as a shooting guard also. Vorontsevich is a key player in both offense and defense for the Russian team.
In our opinion CSKA has to worry about one thing. A problem that appeared in previous games also. Their backcourt defense is not that good. They don’t have the players to press the ball effectively and they are not the best individuals defenders. Baskonia created many problems in this aspect of the game with penetrations and passes in the paint and also with open shots without pressure during the execution
Felipe Reyes is just huge. This year he is the MVP of Real Madrid and gives everything for his team. It was one more epic night with 22 points and 11 rebounds against Galatasaray. In the last games we see also a transformation of Sergio Llull who is passing much more than executing. Real Madrid in their home, play in a different pace and it’s very difficult for any team to win there.
Arroyo had one of the toughest tasks of the season. He faced huge pressure from the guards of Real Madrid. He took only 8 shots, he had 6 assists and 6 turnovers also.
Nizhny Novgorod vs Fenerbahce
Fenerbahce took a big win in Novgorod and they have to thank their defense for that. Especially in the second half the Turkish team played huge defense especially on Rochestie. They gave him some shots but they totally cut his creation. There was a very attacking hedge out defense with Vesely that played again with success as center. As a result Rochestie finished the game with 10 points and only one assist.
In the offensive end. Fenerbahce was not so pretty, using too many isolations plays from Bogdanovic and Goudelock. They scored some very difficult baskets and this can’t happen every night. Better ball movement and vision of the best option is obligatory for success. Even though the Turkish team didn’t have many team plays and automations, in this game they had only 4 turnovers and they didn’t give any easy points to their opponents
Efes had two different faces in defense for second game in a row. In the first half they were totally out of the game, their transition defense especially was terrible. They couldn’t stop Malaga that found open shots after screens.
In the second half everything changed. Perperoglou and Janning scored big shots, the Turkish team showed also their passing abilities with perfectly timed passes and nice feeds in the weak side. Draper, Janning and Lasme were the key players for the defensive improvement. The pressure on the ball was insane! Malaga scored only 10 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The partial score of the second half was 40-21.
Heurtel was the hottest name the last month. He seems totally out of shape and till know he can’t help Efes. The only thing that we can say is that without the good Thomas Heurtel, Efes will face many difficulties as the competition proceeds. He is the key for success, maybe he needs more time but he is much needed in this team.
Zalgiris Kaunas vs Alba Berlin
After many games Zalgiris found again their defensive instinct. They stopped almost all the key players of Alba Berlin, forcing them to score only 62 points. Even though McLean and Hammonds had good numbers, they never found a rhythm for long periods in the game.
Jankunas and Javtokas are very crucial for Zalgiris. In all the big wins they are doing extreme work on both ends of the floor. In the final minutes they scored some big baskets, they played good defense and also saw the open passes for their teammates.
Redding is one of the best players of Alba Berlin but in this game he took many bad decisions especially in the offensive end. With him in a better day the team from Berlin would have better opportunities for a huge road win.