Playoffs teams’ efficiency in the last third of the competition and final classification

Efficiency in modern basketball can be described in the form of offensive and defensive rating.

The term offensive rating is a measure of the points per possession that a team scores, should the game lasted 100 possessions. It is a fully comparable metric for teams across the league since it adjusts the offense for the pace that this teams in playing with.

In the table of the offensive ratings one can see the orange line that depicts the moving average of the metric in the last 10 games and the purple line that shows the team’s performance on offense in each one of each last 10 games. Marked with a green W and a red L indicates the result in each game. Finally, in the table is also included the team’s winning percentage during the first 20 games of the season, during the last 10 games and the difference between these two numbers.

The term Defensive Rating gauges the defensive performance of a certain team in the form of points received per 100 defensive possessions. In the according table one can observe whether teams performed better (lower defensive rating) in a given game, in comparison to the round’s average.

From the tables one can view that 8 teams out of the 10 finished the last part of the season stronger that the first two thirds of the league. Panathinaikos produced a 40% difference in their winning percentage during the last third of the games. They have been consistently outperforming the round’s average in both offense and defense during their winning streak.

Zalgiris Kaunas had the second most improved winning percentage. They also based their performance in improved defensive rating, while offense gave them the boost they needed in nights were their defense was below their average.

In 79 out of the last 80 games of the playoffs teams, the outcome of the game winner produced better offensive or defensive rating than the round’s average. In some occasions, improvement in both metrics was observed. The only case that a team lost a game in which they appeared better defensively and offensively was the derby CSKA vs Real Madrid. In this case Real Madrid was offensively and defensively marginally improved, but CSKA’s offense was way more improved, resulting in winning this close game.

As a conclusion, we can state that performing strong in the last part of the season is extremely important for a team’s inclusion to the Euroleague Basketball playoffs. In addition, monitoring the efficiency, in the form of offensive and defense ratings, should be done thoroughly. The data suggest that in all the cases teams with better or more improved ratings than their opponents resulted in winning the game during the most critical part of the regular season.

Every team’s situation entering the final round of Euroleague

­­Going in to Round 30, there are still six teams who don’t know if they’ll be in one of the last 3 playoff spots or on the outside looking in. Up-to-the-minute projections, as well as all possible scenarios can be found here. This spreadsheet will be updated during and after games to give the latest odds on each team’s chances before, during, and after their game. If you just want to know who your team needs to win tonight as you watch the games, or where it looks like they’re headed for the quarterfinals, each team’s situation entering the final round is laid out here:

Baskonia Thursday 19:00 CET

In: 81.8%

6: 30.2%

7: 20.3%

8: 31.3%

Out: 18.2%

With a W: 100%

With an L: 74.1%

Baskonia is the only other team who knows for certain that all they need to do is win to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs, a certain 6 seed in their case. But there are also two other teams who guarantee Baskonia a playoff spot just by winning: Zalgiris and Anadolu Efes. In case of defeat, Baskonia fans will quickly turn into Efes fans. Even if CSKA Moscow beats Baskonia, Baskonia would still be the first team to lock up a spot in Round 30 if Milano loses to Efes. If both Baskonia and Efes lose, Baskonia’s odds would drop all the way to 40.4%. While the Panathinaikos game has no effect on them except for seeding, a Zalgiris win is actually helpful for Baskonia as their third chance of the day to get into the playoffs. If all these games go the wrong way (Baskonia loses to CSKA, Milano beats Efes, and Madrid beats Zalgiris) Baskonia will enter Friday with just a 9.7% chance at the playoffs. Their only hope is Darussafaka beating Olympiacos. So that’s it for Baskonia. No complicated scenarios, they just need one of four games to go their way: Baskonia over CSKA Moscow, Olimpia Milano over Anadolu Efes, Zalgiris over Real Madrid, or Darussafaka over Olympiacos. None of those are sure things and none of the teams they need are even the favorite. But Baskonia just needs one game to go their way and they’ll be in. If they do lose, they would have just a 0.8% chance to lose and still get the 6 seed, which may be fine with them considering their 1-3 record against 3 seed Real Madrid across all competitions this season.

Olimpia Milano Thursday 19:30 CET

In: 42.5%

6: 2.1%

7: 24.1%

8: 16.4%

Out: 57.5%

With a W: 97.8%

With an L: 0%

Although Olympiacos is in the best position of any 14 win team it’s only because Olimpia Milano is in Istanbul to play Anadolu Efes. This tough matchup has their chances at just 42.5% but a win puts that number at 97.8%. It could rise to 100% by the time their score is final as a win, combined with Baskonia losing, gives Milano a spot in the playoffs likely as the 7 seed. If Olimpia Milano gets the win but Baskonia is able to win on the road as well, Milano still has a pretty good shot to capture one of the final two playoff spots. Just like Baskonia, this situation would mean Milano just needs one of a few games to go their way to be safe: Buducnost over Panathinaikos, Fenerbahce over Maccabi Tel Aviv. The final game is Real Madrid over Zalgiris although in this case the chances are only 99%. Simply put, Milano can win and be in if Baskonia wins. If Baskonia loses, they can celebrate. If not, they can clinch if Panathinaikos gets upset but they don’t need to start worrying about a spot unless Zalgiris closes the night with a win.

Panathinaikos Thursday 20:00 CET

In: 97.0%

6: 64.6%

7: 29.9%

8: 3.3%

Out: 3.0%

With a W: 100%

With an L: 63.7%

A win and you’re in. It’s that simple. Panathinaikos are one of only two bubble teams that control their destiny in Round 30. If not, chances are still at 63.7% but PAO will be completely eliminated if Milano, and Zalgiris both win on the road tonight. If Baskonia and Zalgiris were to both lose, Panathinaikos would be guaranteed a playoff spot even with a loss. Those two losing would be huge for their chances but the result of the Efes-Milano game doesn’t affect their hopes for a spot too much. However, Efes winning tonight does help PAO a lot if they prefer the 7 seed (vs. 2 seed CSKA) to the 8 seed (vs. 1 seed Fener). If PAO cannot win and Zalgiris does win, their chances will be down to 5.1% so Panathinaikos fans will have to cheer for Real Madrid. Ironically, they would be locked in to a spot already if it wasn’t for Rudy Fernandez’ insane buzzer beater last week. Panathinaikos will likely know their fate by the end of the night but we may see some seeding up for grabs depending on results of the other games.

Zalgiris Kaunas Thursday 21:00 CET

In: 24.1%

6: 1.2%

7: 1.6%

8: 21.4%

Out: 72.9%

With a W: 62.9%

With an L: 4.2%

Zalgiris is the wild card in all of this. As we just saw, they have the potential to throw off a lot of team’s plans. The only 14-win team that can make it even if they lose is the team that was recently 9-15 and assumed the playoffs were a lost cause. Now, Coach Jasikevičius could be coaching in the playoffs he wasn’t sure were even plausible a few weeks back. There are some simple scenarios that put Zalgiris in the playoffs: If they win and either Milano or Panathinaikos loses, they’re in. If they lose and every other 14-win team loses (Milano, Maccabi, and Olympiacos) they’re in. Everything else is more complicated. However, they desperately need a win unless they want to watch Darussafacka play in Athens cheering for the upset. If none of those games go their way and both Milano and PAO win, Zalgiris’ only chance will be both Baskonia and Maccabi winning to create the perfect tie-breaker situation. However, counting on a recently eliminated Maccabi team playing in Istanbul against a team coached by Željko Obradović doesn’t seem like a good place to be. Zalgiris will be hoping that Efes or Buducnost can pull it out

Maccabi Tel Aviv Friday 19:45 CET

In: 1.2%

6: 0%

7: 0.02%

8: 1.17%

Out: 98.8%

With a W: 5.2%

With an L: 0%

Maccabi is in the worst situation of any team and it’s not really close. Not only do they face a tough task as mentioned earlier, their chances are still just 5.2% if they do win. So who does Maccabi need to win to still be in the hunt when they take the court on Friday? Baskonia, Buducnost, and Real Madrid should all gain a large number of fans in Tel Aviv tonight. If all three teams win, Maccabi will be able to play tomorrow knowing that they just need to win for qualification. If one of those games doesn’t go their way, Maccabi will need to win and then have Darussafaka pull the upset against Olympiacos later on in the night. If two or three don’t go their way, all playoff hopes are lost even before shootaround before Friday’s game.

Olympiacos Friday 20:30 CET

In: 53.4%

6: 2.0%

7: 24.9%

8: 26.6%

Out: 46.6%

With a W: 59.1%

With an L: 0%

Olympiacos will be watching from home tonight but there are many ways their chances could be improved or decreased by the results of the games. They’ll have to take care of business at home against Daçka for it to matter but even as injured as they are that one should be a win. So here’s the cheatsheet for Olympiacos fans: CSKA Moscow, Buducnost, and Real Madrid. Any two of those three wins and Olympiacos chances are up to at least 85% with a win, if not more. If none of those games go their way (Baskonia, Panathinaikos, amd Zalgiris win) they will be eliminated before they even get to play Friday. As it stands, Olympiacos is in the best position of any 14-win team but that could change quickly tonight.

Andrew Mastin

[email protected]

@andrewmastin

Playoff Scenarios for the last Round

With just 8 games to go, 6 teams still have hope for the last 3 playoff spots. However, only 2 of these teams can simply say “win and we’re in.” The rest have to hope for results in other matches to go their way as well. 4 teams also still have hope for their Euroleague season to continue in the playoffs with a loss but they will definitely need certain contentions for that. For example, Baskonia could lose their game against CSKA Moscow and still be the sixth team to qualify if Anadolu Efes beats Milano in the next game. All the situations that each team needs are laid out below. The live projections will also be updated up until we have all 8 teams set.

Baskonia:

Win and you’re in

Lose and you’re in UNLESS Milano and Olympiacos win and Panathinaikos, Zalgiris and Maccabi all lose

Panathinaikos:

Win and you’re in

Lose and you’re in UNLESS Maccabi and Zalgiris both win AND Olympiacos/Baskonia/Milano win at least one game

Olimpia Milano:

Win and you’re in UNLESS Baskonia, Pannathinaikos, Zalgiris and Maccabi win also OR Baskonia and Maccabi win while Panathinaikos and Zalgiris lose

Lose and you’re out

Olympiacos:

if Milano wins on Thursday: Win and you’re out UNLESS Baskonia, Panathinaikos, Zalgiris, Maccabi all lose

Lose and you’re out

if Milano loses on Thursday:

Win and you’re in IF Zalgiris loses OR Maccabi and Panathinaikos both lose OR Baskonia and Panathinaikos both lose

Lose and you’re out

Zalgiris:

Win and you’re in UNLESS Milano and Panathinaikos both win while Baskonia loses OR if Baskonia, Panathinaikos, and Milano all win while Maccabi loses

Lose and you’re out UNLESS Milano, Olympiacos, Maccabi all lose

Maccabi Tel Aviv:

Win and you’re out UNLESS Milano loses, Baskonia wins, Panathinaikos loses, and Zalgiris wins OR Milano loses. Olympiacos wins, and Panthinaikos loses OR Milano, Zalgiris, andOlympiacos all lose

Lose and you’re out

[email protected]

@andrewmastin

@NewStatsEu

29 March Playoff Preview – Which games matter to each of the 7 teams in contention for the last 3 spots

With just 12 games left in the Euroleague regular season, playoff berths are locked up for 5 teams (Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, Anadolu Efes, FC Barcelona) but 7 teams (Panathinaikos, Baskonia, Olympiacos, Olimpia Milano, Zalgiris, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Bayern Munich) are still fighting for the last 3 spots. After Milano couldn’t beat an injured Fenerbahce at home and the dust settled on day 1 of Round 29, 3 heavy favorites emerged. Panathinaikos, Baskonia, and Olympiacos all have odds above 75% entering Friday night’s matches. However, a Baskonia loss drops their odds to 67.9% and an Olympiacos loss drops their odds all the way to 39.9%. For those reasons, most teams on the bubble will probably be cheering for them both to lose. However, not fans with their season in the balance should be hoping for that result. Maccabi would actually be better off if they both won because of how they fare in tiebreakers against Baskonia and Olympiacos’ opponent Zalgiris. A Baskonia win would be their 16th which is the magic number to clinch the playoffs without worrying about tiebreakers thanks to Rudy Fernández’s unbelievable game-winning shot against Panathinaikos Thursday evening. So who exactly should fans of each team be cheering for Friday night? It’s a tough question but we’ll answer as best we can.

Panathinaikos: Panathinaikos is still in the best situation of any bubble team as they are fortunate enough to get a favorable matchup against Buducnost to finish the season. If they win that game, they don’t have to worry about any other results as they are a certainty to make the playoffs. However, if they do get upset in their final game, they will need to rely on tiebreakers to qualify for playoffs but none of the Friday games have a big effect on their chances in that situation.

Baskonia: Baskonia is another team that just needs a win and they’re in and unlike Pana they have two chances. The bad part: those two games are vs. Anadolu Efes and @ CSKA Moscow. If Baskonia is not able to split their final two matches, they’ll need to win a tiebreaker as well. It would be very beneficial to their tiebreaker chances if Zalgiris were involved and Olympiacos were not. While neither of those things are a guarantee with a Zalgiris victory at Olympiacos, it would be impossible without it. If the game against Efes doesn’t turn out well, Baskonia fans might want to keep an eye on the score of Zal-Oly…counting on a win in Moscow against CSKA isn’t ideal.

Olympiacos: A win puts Olympiacos’ chances at 95.1%..a loss drops them to 39.9%. They should probably try to win this game. Efes beating Baskonia would also benefit David Blatt’s team. If they get to the locker room with a win and see an Efes win those odds jump even a little higher to 97.9%. Baskonia finishing 15-15 becomes even more vital if they lose, Baskonia would be a great tiebreaking partner for Olympiacos because of their two close wins against them.

Olimpia Milano: Milano needs some luck after their Fenerbahce loss dropped them to 14-15. Milano fans will become very big Darussafaka and Zalgiris fans for a night. They hold a huge tiebreaking advantage over Olympiacos and now that they are relying on a 15-15 tie, seeing Olympiacos in that category would be huge. Because Olympiacos is going to be heavy favorites at home against Darussafaka in Round 30, their losing in Round 29 is important to Milano. Darussafaka has a chance to help them out in Round 29 as well, if they can eliminate Bayern in their final home game, it would benefit a Milano team that has a slight scoring margin disadvantage vs. Bayern.

Zalgiris: Zalgiris is actually one of the few teams with a chance to qualify at 14-16. However, if they are 14-16 with a Round 29 loss to Olympiacos, this will be impossible. If they can’t win @ Olympiacos, none of this matters. If they do, they’ll be hoping to make the miracle comeback from 9-15 to a playoff spot. One result that would boost this is actually if Baskonia wins and removes themselves from a tiebreaker with Zalgiris. Because Zalgiris lost both games to Baskonia, they are hoping that Baskonia can knock off Efes this week or CSKA Moscow next week.

Maccabi Tel Aviv: Another team who lost both games to Baskonia is Maccabi. They will also be cheering for Baskonia to win a game to keep them out of tiebreakers. Maccabi’s odds with an Efes win are 5.4% but improve to 14.5% if Baskonia wins.

Bayern: At 13-15, Bayern has to win to remain in contention for playoffs. However, if they do win, they will be paying close attention to the game between Olympiacos and Zalgiris. Olympiacos’ two wins over Bayern by a combined 30 points practically eliminates them if Olympiacos finishes 15-15. Just like Milano, Bayern will be Darussafaka fans in Round 30 if Olympiacos defends home court against Zalgiris on Friday night.

Countless possibilities remain (too many for even the projections to count) but hopefully Friday night’s games over some clarity and even more excitement. The Odds Estimates will be updated live as the games happen all night to give you up-to-the-minute playoff chances for each team. Updates will also be posted on twitter @andrewmastin and @NewStatsEu

Andrew Mastin

@andrewmastin

[email protected]

Euroleague Playoff Scenarios

Using the playoff prediction model, we found scenarios that will help each team improve their odds in Round 29. The model is not 100% accurate and does have some holes, especially in relation to the 13-15 teams. However, as there are still thousands of scenarios, this gives the best estimate at what each team’s chances are looking like within a few percentage points. Using these estimates, Panathinaikos and Baskonia both seem to be very close to locking up a spot in the playoffs. Their odds of 96.2% and 82.8% are encouraging but a win in the Round 29 would definitely ease some nerves for their fans. A win for Panathinaikos guarantees a playoff appearance while a loss drops their odds to 91.1%. If Pitino’s team were to drop their Round 30 match against Buducnost as well, these odds would drop to 26.1% for a hypothetical 15-15 Pana squad. Baskonia wouldn’t have a playoff spot locked up with a win but a number of 95.2% would be better than the 61.7% chance with a loss.

Both of the teams that are currently 14-14 have chances to steal a spot from Panathinaikos or Baskonia. Despite Milano having a tiebreaker over Olympiacos due to 24 point and 9 point wins earlier in the season, Blatt’s squad are currently higher than Milano with a 58.7% chance to make the playoffs. This is partly due to their remaining schedule being much easier than Milano who has a 45.7% chance for playoffs. Olympiacos’ game against Zalgiris is the biggest game of the week as the only matchup of two teams’ who are uncertain about their qualification. If they lose either game their odds drop to 31.9%, while winning both would move their odds to 96.0%. Because of Milano’s tiebreaker over Olympiacos they are actually a third team that does control their own destiny, meaning they are 100% in if they win out. The only problem is that those games are against Fenerbahce and on the road against Anadolu Efes. There is hope that catching an injured Fener and an Efes team that knows they will be the 4th place team in the playoffs will allow them to beat both powerhouses. At 15-15, Olimpia Milano would have just a 46.6% chance to make the playoffs but that could be increased to 90.9% if Olympiacos also goes 15-15 because of the massive boost it would give their tiebreaker. Olympiacos going 16-14 would automatically disqualify a 15-15 Milano team from playoff contention.

The 13-15 teams have the most convoluted path the playoffs so their odds will be the least accurate. However as everything starts to clear up here’s what we can see each fan base should be cheering for during Thursday’s games:

Zalgiris and Maccabi Tel Aviv Supporters: Real Madrid, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Fenerbahce.

Although these numbers are likely both low, projections show these 3 results would increase Zalgiris’ odds from 4.4% to 6.8%. This is due to the advantage they would gain in 15-15 tiebreakers, as well as the increased odds of a 15-15 tiebreaker deciding playoff spots in the first place. A Maccabi loss drops their own chances to 0.0% so none of this matters for them if they can’t win. But assuming Tel Aviv stays alive the other two games help them similarly.

Bayern Supporters: Panathinaikos, Gran Canaria, Olimpia Milano

Although their chances remain slim no matter what, Maccabi and Olympiacos are the two teams that Bayern must avoid in a tiebreaker, and they probably need Milano to also finish 15-15 if they wants a shot.

It will no doubt be an exciting round, look for updates as the games play out and the picture gets clearer.

More details about the calculations are here

Twitter: @andrewmastin

Email: [email protected]

 

Pre-game analysis Panathinaikos vs Baskonia 20/03/2019

Panathinaikos Four Factors

52.8% eFG 15.4% TOV 31.2% oREB 19.3% FTr

Panathinaikos Opponent Four Factors

53.4% eFG 19.2% TOV 32.4% oREB 24.0% FTr

Baskonia Four Factors

54.9% eFG 17.8% TOV 32.8% oREB 22.5% FTr

Baskonia Opponent Four Factors

54.0% eFG 17.8% TOV 25.1% oREB 22.7% FTr

Panathinaikos and Baskonia each have a make or break week coming up and it starts with a big Wednesday night game in Athens. The two teams come in with streaks of 4 and 3, respectively with late surges pushing them into the playoff picture with just 4 games to go. Panathinaikos is one game back of Baskonia and Milano for the last playoff spot (who takes on Madrid in Madrid this round) and has a record of 9-3 at home with 3 of their final 4 games at home. This is a must-win for them as they face a road trip to Milano on Friday and the following home game against Madrid is not a guarantee. Meanwhile, Baskonia can move to 15-12 and put themselves 2 games ahead of 9th place while a loss will put them in a tie for the last playoff spot. Their last 3 matchups are all against top 4 teams so this matchup might be a must-win for them as much as it is for PAO.

Panathinaikos has seen their biggest advantage when they push the pace. In wins, they average 79.7 possessions while averaging just 75.92 in losses. The home/away gap is even wider with 80.8 possessions at home and 75.2 on the road. It has been to their benefit to play a faster game all year and they have capitalized on that in their recent 4-game run, averaging 81 possessions in those games. Baskonia averages 79.7 possessions per game so it shouldn’t be hard for Panathinaikos to speed this game up. This could definitely work in their favor as it seems to have all year, having a point guard like Nick Calathes who can control the pace of the game will help with that. However, controlling the pace is not the only issue facing Coach Pitino going into this huge matchup.

Despite having a pace closer to where they want it (79.3 possessions/game) in their 3 home losses, the rebounding battle has been a huge struggle. In blowout losses to Zalgiris and Fenerbahce, Pana was outrebounded 46-32 and 36-25, respectively. The latest home loss was a 3-point loss to Milano in a game with even 32-32 rebounding. That was all the way back in Round 14 before Pitino, who has coached 11 Euroleague games but just 4 at home, took over. In Pitino’s 4 home wins Panathinaikos has actually outrebounded opponents by 17, or 36.5-32.25 on average. This is a positive trend that will have to continue to have a chance to beat Baskonia, one of the best rebounding teams in Euroleague. Baskonia is outrebounding teams by 3.8 boards per game but has been even better over the last 5 games outrebounding opponents by 5.4. In wins, this margin is even great, Baskonia gets 6.4 more rebounds than opponents in wins. The home game against Panathinaikos in Round 9 helped boost that number, Baskonia pulled in 32 rebounds to PAO’s 23, led by Vincent Poirier’s 9 and Tornike Shengelia with 7. If Panathinaikos can continue to keep the rebounding numbers even and push the pace, they will give themselves a good chance to win. Either way, the last few rounds in middle of the standings will be very interesting starting with a good game in Athens Wednesday night.

Pre-game Analysis for Fenerbahce – Barcelona 15/03/2019

Barcelona Four Factors

52.5% eFG 18.2% TOV 33.5% oREB 23.0% FTr

Barcelona Opponent Four Factors

53.1% eFG 17.9% TOV 27.8% oREB 21.0% FTr

Fenerbahce Four Factors

61.9% eFG 17.2% TOV 29.7% oREB 22.5% FTr

Fenerbahce Opponent Four Factors

54.0% eFG 18.4% TOV 29.6% 21.8% FTr

The first time that Barcelona saw Fenerbahce, they lost 84-65 in a game that was never realy that close. This was the start of a 4 game losing streak that dropped their record below .500 to 6-7. Since they ended that streak with a road win against Baskonia, Barcelona has been a very respectable 9-3. As they near playoff qualification and even flirt with home-court advantage in the playoffs, Barça is trying to establish themselves in that top tier of Euroleague. To do this you have to hang with the powerhouses. Between the Spanish Cup and Euroleague, they have won twice against 3rd place Real Madrid in the last month which they followed up with a 22 point loss on the road against Anadolu Efes. Friday night’s game against 1st place Fenerbahce gives them a shot at redemption in Istanbul. Fenerbahce’s is looking to hold on to their spot in first place, and also protect their perfect home record this season of 23-0 between Euroleague and the Turkish BSL.

Barcelona’s pair of point guards, Thomas Heurtel and Kevin Pangos, typically play complimentary minutes. There is rarely a time when the two share the court and it’s even more rare to see Barcelona without either point guard. With Pangos, the defense drastically improves and with Heurtel the team’s offensive numbers jump. This has been the case all season but since Barcelona ended their losing streak in Round 14, lineups with both Pangos and Heurtel have drastically improved on their respective end. When Pangos was off the court in Rounds 1-13, Barça allowed 1.02 PPP. This is the same number they have allowed with Pangos since Round 14 but with Pangos on the floor they have allowed just 0.89 PPP since Round 14, compared to 0.99 in the first 13 rounds. Without Pangos on the floor in Rounds 1-13 and Rounds 14-25, opponents had effective field goal percentages of 53.1% and 55.2%, respectively. With Pangos on the floor, that number dropped from 54.0% to 49.6% in the latest 12 rounds. While Pangos is doing his job on the defensive end, his counterpart Thomas Heurtel has definitely stepped up the team’s scoring. In the first 13 rounds the team scored 0.96 PPP without Heurtel, and that number has actually dropped to 0.93 in Rounds 14-25. However, the points per possession with the Frenchman on the court have jumped from 0.99 to 1.12. With Heurtel on the court, Barcelona has had an effective field goal percentage of 60% since Round 14, compared to 48% without him. This jump is primarily driven by a jump in 3-point percentage of 15% (28.6 to 43.6%) with Heurtel on the floor in that time. While Heurtel is averaging a solid 11.1 ppg and 12.3 since the season’s turning point his biggest jump has been in the 4th quarter. During the 6-7 start, he was scoring a respectable 0.51 points per minute in the last period with a 50% eFG and 23.5% turnover percentage. Since Round 14, Heurtel’s numbers in the 4th quarter are far more impressive: 0.85 points per minute, 56.5% eFG, and a turnover percentage of just 5.5%. The 4th quarter performances by the whole team have been a factor in their recent 9-3 run as they went from averaging 17.2 points as a team in the 4th to 21.6. It all started in a 77-70 Round 14 win against Baskonia, in which Barcelona entered the 4th quarter down 49-55. They followed up this comeback by turning a 37-50 halftime deficit into a 80-65 win with a 20-7 3rd quarter and 21-8 4th quarter. Heurtel and Pangos will have to keep up their strong play Friday night against Fener’s star at the position, Kostas Sloukas, to get the win but win or lose this one, both players are vital to the team’s success going forward.

Pre-game Analysis for Real Madrid – Fenerbahce 07/03/2019

Real Madrid Four Factors

57.6% eFG  16.9% TOV  29.5% oREB  22.3% FTr

Fenerbahce Four Factors

62.0% eFG  17.2% TOV  29.9% oREB  22.6% FTr

Fenerbahce and Real Madrid are playing for very little at this point from a standings perspective. Both teams are guaranteed a playoff spot, and although Madrid’s upcoming schedule is not the easiest, it seems both teams will have home-court advantage in the first round. From that standpoint, this game could mean a lot down the line. With both teams having the inside track to the Final Four, this is their last chance to face each other in person and prepare for a possible do or die game in May. The two teams first saw each other in Istanbul in Round 15, in a chess match between two brilliant coaches that ended in a 2-point win for the home side and a final score well below both team’s averages. A lot of the strategic decisions on both sides involved how to use certain lineups to match up with the other roster full of talented players. Luckily for us, we have the lineup data and the benefit of hindsight to see what worked last time, and what we may see more of in Madrid.

Pablo Laso typically utilizes a lot of different big men this season. Edy Tavares and Gustavo Ayon traditionally give opposing defenses trouble because of their skill inside but Anthony Randolph, Felipe Reyes, and Trey Thompkins can also create problems for a team not ready to defend inside. Because of their size and ability to throw different combinations of bigs at you, the prototypical player to slow down Real Madrid’s offense is a player like Nicolo Melli or Gigi Datome who can defend bigs and space the floor on offense. The first game between Fener and Madrid was won when these 2 shared the floor with Jan Vesely, the team’s best interior defender, and arguably Coach Obradovic’s best defender of any kind. By putting Vesely on the floor with 2 players who can guard bigs and spread the floor on offense, Obradovic made Real Madrid uncomfortable in their typical lineups. Vesely’s athleticism is hard for some bigs to contain and Ayon clearly had trouble early, giving up a dunk off of a slip, and a foul after getting blown by on back-to-back plays late in the first quarter. In the 21 minutes that Vesely, Melli, and Datome shared the floor, Fener scored 37 in 33 offensive possessions while allowing just 20 points in 31 defensive possessions. They also outrebounded Real Madrid 25-11, getting 15/17 (88.2%) of the boards on their defensive end and 10/19 (52.6%) on their offensive end. In the remaining 36 possessions without all 3 of those players together, Fener lost 43-28 and was outrebounded 20-12. Fenerbahce surrounded Vesely with shooters, and left no one else for Ayon (who finished -13) to match up with. With these shooters also being more than capable pick and roll, and post defenders, Madrid could not take advantage of mismatches on the other end that their size typically creates. The best +/- player for Real Madrid in the first matchup was Edy Tavares with +14. His ability to set screens on offense and move his feet to guard Vesely, as well as get rebounds on both ends, was crucial to Madrid in the 17 minutes that he played. If Obradovic uses Vesely, Datome, and Melli together again, Real Madrid will definitely have more answers for them this time around. Hopefully that means we don’t have to wait until 5 minutes remain in the 4th quarter to see Tavares on the court with those 3 players this time around.

Twitter: @andrewmastin

Email: [email protected]

Pre-game Analysis for Olympiakos – CSKA 01/03/2019

Olympiakos

Four Factors

53.7% eFG 18.2% TOV 32.6% oREB 21.4% FTr

Opponent Four Factors

53.2% eFG 14.8% TOV 25.5% oREB 16.6% FTr

CSKA Moscow

Four Factors

56.1% eFG 15.9% TOV 34.0% oREB 26.7% FTr

Opponent Four Factors

53.0% eFG 17.6% TOV 31.3% oREB 27.7% FTr

Despite losing against CSKA in their first matchup, Olympiakos is most likely feeling pretty confident about the reverse fixture. CSKA has only suffered one loss at home in Euroleague this year and Olympiakos played them very close, only losing 69-65 despite a -12 3rd quarter. They were able to keep it close because they held CSKA to an offensive rebounding percentage of 24.3% despite their season average of 34% and 35.7% at home. CSKA, on the other hand, has to be feeling good about the matchup because they pulled off a win last time despite Nando De Colo going scoreless for the only time in his Euroleague career. So who will prevail tonight? Will Olympiakos be able to hold CSKA off on the boards again or will De Colo give his team a much better performance and be the difference in a win?

CSKA’s offensive rebounding is a team effort, no player has more than 2 per game and no player has more of an effect on offensive rebounding percentage than Semen Antonov’s +6.4% in 138 minutes this year, after that is Othello Hunter with +3.5%. In the Round 5 matchup against Olympiakos, CSKA had 12.5% oREB (2/16) with Othello Hunter and 14.3% (1/7) with Semen Antonov on the court. If CSKA is going to beat Olympiakos on the road, those two, and the whole team must continue to crash the boards like they have most of the season. The team’s 12 offensive rebounds per win gives them 73.9 True Shooting Attempts per game in wins, compared to their 8.6 offensive rebounds in losses which have yielded just 66.6 True Shooting Attempts. Their elite ability to secure rebounds on offense no matter which group of players is on the court is one of the reasons that CSKA has set themselves apart from the pack in Euroleague this year and are one of three teams to have already secured a spot in the playoffs. If they can’t rebound at that level in Greece on Friday night and beyond, they may put themselves at risk of dropping in the standings. CSKA’s remaining schedule is not easy in the slightest, although 4 of their 6 matches after Olympiakos are at home, their last 7 opponents have a combined record of 93-74 and every team will likely be in contention for a playoff spot except for Khimki when CSKA runs into them. A win in Piraeus all but secures their spot in the top 3 playoffs but even first round home court advantage could start to get dicey with a loss, given their upcoming opponents.

Olympiakos will look to fix their offensive woes this round after averaging 65 points and 13.3 turnovers in their recent 4-game Euroleague skid. They have however limited opponents to a 25.4% oREB which is a similar number as what they allowed to CSKA in Round 5. This being the best way to slow them down and what they did last time to hold them under 70 for the only time all season, Coach Blatt will make sure his team is boxing out every possession. Last time was a total team effort, only Nikola Milutinov had 5 defensive rebounds of the team’s 31 and he has been rewarded for his strong play (highlighted by 18 rebounds against Panathinaikos in Round 16) with more minutes as of late. Olympiakos goes from a 67.1% defensive rebounding team without Milutinov to 75.3% with him, his increased minutes should continue this week as rebounding is as important as ever for Olympiakos as the look to bounce back from a rough February and lock down their place in the playoffs.

Round 23 Preview Analysis – 22/02/2019

KK Buducnost

Four Factors

51.3% eFG 16.1% TOV 28.2% oREB 16.8% FTr

Opponent Four Factors

58.5% eFG 15.8% TOV 30.6% oREB 22.6% FTr

Zalgiris Kaunas

Four Factors

53.6% eFG 18.9% TOV 30.2% oREB 31.0% FTr

Opponent Four Factors

55.0% eFG 16.0% TOV 29.5% 21.8% FTr

While Buducnost is not technically eliminated from Euroleague playoff contention they may as well be, a playoff berth at this point is all but impossible. They travel to Kaunas to take on a Zalgiris team that is at the edge of the playoff chase, despite losing 7 of their last 8. If Bayern doesn’t pull off the upset in Madrid, a win Friday night puts Zalgiris just 2 games out of the playoffs with 7 rounds to go. They’re going to have to win this one, and possibly their huge matches in the coming weeks against 8th and 9th place Bayern and Baskonia, without starting point guard Nate Wolters.

It seems likely that Leo Westermann will take over most of the minutes opened up by Wolters’ absence. The three games that Wolters missed due to injury in December were the only three in which Westermann spent more than half of the match on the court. In those games (@Bayern, @Darussafaka, Maccabi Tel Aviv) Westermann averaged 14 points (7/9 FT, 4/7 2pt, 9/16 3pt), 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 3 turnovers before getting hurt himself. The issue with Westermann getting more minutes seems to be the defensive struggles when he shares the backcourt with Arturas Milaknis. Milaknis is one of only four players to hit 500 minutes for Zalgiris this season and has been instrumental to their offense because of his ability to space the floor with his deep shooting (he has made 9 2-pointers all season). While Wolters is a solid defender (1.00 opponent points per possession on, 1.05 off) compared to Westermann (1.03 opp PPP on, 1.01 off), Milaknis lags far behind both guards (1.06 opp PPP on, 0.97 off). It doesn’t seem like defense is the most glaring issue plaguing Zalgiris right now, their 69 points scored per game over their last 8 comes to mind, but it could keep them from overcoming their other issues.

Even as Milaknis’ defense has improved significantly since the beginning of the year, the backcourt of him and Westermann has moved the opposite way. Zalgiris gave up 158 points in 150 possessions (1.05 PPP) when the two shared the floor in Rounds 1-11. However, when Wolters went down and the pairing became more frequent in Rounds 12-14, they gave up 95 points in 74 possessions for an abysmal 1.28 PPP. Westermann’s only game since that stretch was in last round’s matchup against Barcelona, where he spent four possessions on the court with Milaknis. While Zalgiris did score 7 points in that time, 3 of which came off a Arturas Milaknis shot assisted by Leo Westermann, they also gave up 8 points, Barcelona’s only miss was a 3 which was promptly put back for one of 4 2-point shots in that 2m53.

Because both players are going to need to play significant time while Wolters recovers, there will have to be shared minutes at some points, perhaps even double digit minutes some games. Coach Jasikevicius will have to figure out who he can include in the lineup to help them on defense. In the first 3 Wolters-less games, Thomas Walkup played 294 possessions with the pair, giving up 29 points. Those numbers aren’t great in a small sample size but the offensive numbers give hope that this would be a viable lineup, Westermann’s size (198 cm) could allow the 3 guards to play together in some smallball situations. If Jasikevicius really wanted to play a small backcourt with the pair, an interesting lineup might have been one which included Derrick Walton Jr., who started two games in Wolters’ absence. Unfortunately, Walton left the club with Westermann’s return and the likelihood that his playing time would drop even more. At this point the backcourt depth is basically Westermann, Milaknis and Marius Grigonis, who is probably the best defender of the 3 (0.97 opponent PPP on, 1.07 off). The three will have to find ways to stop opposing backcourts, and while Grigonis plays decent defense with Milaknis (1.05 PPP) he and Westermann do not (1.11 PPP), a lot of Grigonis’ defensive numbers can be traced back to well he played with Wolters (0.95 PPP). He’ll have to adapt these next 2-3 weeks without him, their starting point guard coming back to a tight playoff chase or a season that’s already over could depend on it.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewmastin

Email: [email protected]

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