By Panos Katsiroumpas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
It was like we were viewing two different games in terms of the performance of CSKA. The team of coach Itoudis had a terrible 1st half, mostly in the defensive end, although in the 2nd half they came out aggressive and ready to force a comeback. In the end they took an important away win against Nizhny prior to their willingness to play defense and press the ball as much as possible.
In the early stages of the game, if we exclude the first 5 minutes, where CSKA found easy points in transition with Weems leading the way, it was a total domination of the offensive game of Nizhny. In the 1st period the team from Novgorod had great 3point executions. This open shots came after screen with the indolence defense of CSKA not following the opponent’s guards. Nizhny also found open shots from the weak side after good ball movement and moreover from creation from inside especially with Tompkins. The talented forward had 4 assists, almost all of them in the 1st quarter with the close out defenses of CSKA being slow and ineffective.
In the 2nd period Nizhny changed they are offensive game, starting to play their favorite pick n roll with Rochestie in the role of creator and Parakhouski in the role of executor. They also penetrated to the paint in every opportunity and scored easy baskets with the defense of CSKA being totally absent. Itoudis was continuously changing his line-up in the floor in order to find a way to stop their opponents but the situation remained the same till the end of the 1st half. Nizhny finished the 1st half scoring 55 points, the worst performance of CSKA defense in a single half. CSKA finished the 1st period with only 1 team foul.
In the offensive end CSKA scored 42 points but without sharing the ball effectively and with poor movement without the ball. The majority of the points came from transition plays and isolations of Weems. They finished the half with only 6 assists when they average almost 23.
In the 2nd half a different CSKA came out of the locker room. With primary goal to finally play some good defense and move the ball better in offense. Jackson was the player that started the comeback, with his pressure on the ball and on the creator. The switches finally became more aggressive and Nizhny didn’t have the same open looks they had in the 1st half.
In offense CSKA moved the ball better with clear option early on to put the ball on the paint, with Kaun giving some easy baskets to his team. They opened their offensive game and found more solutions from more players. This is clear also from the number of assists of CSKA in the 2nd half. Even though they scored only 2 points more than the 1st half they doubled the numbers of assists and finished with 18. (12 in the 2nd half.)
Itoudis used again the same tactic as in other games that CSKA needed to overcome a deficit, using Korobkov in the center position for parts of the game. With this adjustment the defense of the team from Moscow became more quick and flexible and responded well to the switches. Nizhny scored only 10 points in the first 13 minutes of the 2nd half and CSKA came back, took the lead and controlled the game till the end.
Despite the win it is obvious that this was a problematic performance for CSKA and the 1st half is food for thought for the coaching stuff. Another good effort from Nizhny, with very nice basketball for 20 minutes but poor execution in the 2nd half.