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]

Pre-game Analysis for Baskonia – Bayern 07/02/2019

Baskonia Four Factors:

54.9% eFG 17.9% TOV 33.5% OREB 23.7% FTr

Baskonia Opponent Four Factors:

55.3% eFG 17.6% TOV 28.4% OREB 21.7% FTr

Bayern Four Factors:

55.9% eFG 15.3% TOV 28.2% OREB 21.9% FTr

Bayern Opponent Four Factors:
55.6% eFG 16.9% TOV 32.4% OREB 22.4% FTr

Baskonia and Bayern both do everything about as average as you would expect teams on the in the middle of the table to do. Besides a couple upset wins at home (Baskonia vs. CSKA Moscow, Bayern vs. Fenerbahce) and a couple upset losses on the road (Baskonia @ Buducnost, Baskonia @ Darussafaka) both clubs have generally beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and lost to the teams they’re not. Their fairly average shooting numbers from all ranges (Baskonia: 76.3% FT/54.6% 2/36.9% 3, Bayern: 77.0%/54.3%/39.1%) and similar to the numbers they give up (Baskonia: 77.2%/53.2%/38.8%, Bayern: 80.9%/57.2%/35.0%).

With both teams shooting numbers looking similar, the biggest place that Baskonia sets themselves apart is on the boards. They’re currently outrebounding opponents by 3.5 per game and scoring 1.5 more points per game while Bayern is being outrebounded by 2.8 and outscored by 0.7 on average. This battle of the boards is what will define this game. Last time these two teams faced off Bayern was able to win the battle of the boards (40-39) and the game (77-71). This was despite Vincent Poirier leading the game with 6 offensive rebounds and 11 total. If they want a chance to win the reverse fixture, Bayern must keep it respectable on the boards. Devin Booker still recovering from an ankle injury puts the onus on Derrick Williams to grab more rebounds than ever.

Hopefully, Booker will play some on Thursday night but he will almost certainly not be 100% right away. For that reason, Williams is an easy choice as Bayern’s key player in Spain.

Key players:

Bayern: Derrick Williams

The last time these two teams played Bayern knew they would have to in the battle of the boards and went big starting Booker, Barthel, and Lucic, all three of whom are listed at at least 204 cm. Sixth man Derrick Williams also played 26:46 which he didn’t match until the Round 11 game when Booker went down with his ankle injury. In the 10 games since Booker’s injury, Williams minutes have increased to 29.6 per game due in large part to Baskonia’s inability to rebound without him. Bayern is rebounding just 44.7% of available shots without Williams on the floor since Round 12 but that number jumps to 49.1% when he plays. Williams’ plus/minus of +16 was 10 points better than any of his teammates back in Round 4 and Coach Radonjic is certainly hoping for a similar performance to secure an important late season road game.

Baskonia: Shavon Shields

Shields has been a key player for Baskonia since Round 13. Despite starting 10 games in the first 12 rounds, he only played an average of 16.9 minutes a night. That has changed starting with the Round 13 game at Gran Canaria. In the latest 9 matches, Shields has played an average of 28.9 minutes per game. This is mostly been due to the numerous injuries that Baskonia has dealt with this season, most notably in Shields’ case Patricio Garino and Tornike Shengelia. However, even if Baskonia was fully healthy, a large share of minutes going to the Danish forward might boost their chances. In the last matchup, which Baskonia played at relatively full strength, Shields was +10 and gathered 4 rebounds in 17 minutes to Garino’s 2 in 20 minutes. The difference becomes much more apparent when you look at the team numbers which each player. In Garino’s 20 minutes, Baskonia was outrebounded 27-17 (58.3% DREB, 15.0% OREB) while they had a 19-11 (78.6% DREB, 50% OREB) advantage on the glass in Shields’ 17 minutes. The two played mostly complementary minutes as they never saw the court together and Baskonia had 3 rebounds (1 offensive) to Bayern’s 2 (1 offensive) in the 3 minutes without either on the court. There is still blame to be shared across the team for being outrebounded by a tradionally poor rebounding team in Bayern. Shields playing all 17 of his minutes with leading rebounder Vincent Poirier definitely contributed to his lineups’ advantage over Garino who only played 10 of 20 minutes with Poirier. However, Shields clearly impacted the game on the boards leading him to a +/- of +10, 7 points greater than any of his teammates. If Shields minutes continue as they have been, he and Poirier have a good shot to even out the season series with Bayern Thursday night.

Twitter: @andrewmastin

Email: [email protected]

Pre-game Analysis for Panathinaikos – Anadolu Efes 01/02/2019

With 10 games left in the season, every game matters for Rick Pitino’s Panathinaikos team. Currently 8-12, he will need to start stacking wins in order to qualify for the Euroleague playoffs. With just one Euroleague win away from home on the year, PAO must win every home game they can, even against a top-4 side in Efes. A loss in this round would be extra devastating considering the looming trip to face league leader Fenerbahce. Falling to 8-14 would seem to be the most likely scenario without a win on Friday, making this matchup very important for their future plans. Efes is still holding on to a position in the top 4 of the league. Taking care of business on the road against PAO would be another step in securing home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. As we look ahead to this big Round 21 matchup, I’ve used NewStats.eu to create a scouting report for both teams and hopefully get some insights on what we could see Friday night.

Panathinaikos

Offense: Good scoring team from 2 (54.5% on 42.3 2PA) but below average from 3 (30.2% on 20.7 3PA). Steady guard play limits turnovers to 11.0 per game although that number is 12.1 on the road and only 9.8 at home which is part of the reason they are scoring 84.3 ppg in home games in Euroleague this year compared to 70.3 on the road. Deep shooting remains similar, if not slightly better, on the road but 2-point attempts drop by 5 (44.8 to 39.8) while the percentage on those shots drops by 6.1% (57.4% to 51.3%) costing them an average of nearly 14 points per game so far when they leave their home arena. They are also shooting 6.2 less free throws on the road than at home which, despite an uptick in percentage, is what makes up the rest of their discrepancy in scoring numbers based on the location of the game.

Defense: Panathinaikos is currently allowing teams to shoot 37.3% from 3 on 20 attempts per game. Their defense can be exploited on this end by attacking the basket to get fouled (opponents shoot 20.6 free throws per contest) especially without a legitimate threat to block shots at the rim. They are also a team that can be exploited by crashing the glass as they tend to give up too many offensive rebounds (65.6% DREB%). Their defense will force a lot of turnovers (14.2 oTO and 7.3 STL) from every position as only Nick Calathes averages more than a steal a game (1.7). Despite the large discrepancy in scoring based on location on the offensive side, the team’s numbers remain very similar regardless of whether or not they play in their home gym.

Anadolu Efes

Offense: Efes as a team is defined by their ability to score the ball extremely efficiently from every spot (64.1% TS) shooting 42.9% from 3, 59.2% from 2 and 80.5% from the free throw line. They don’t try to crash the glass, only getting 27.2% of offensive rebounds (24.8% in the last 5 games), because they make a high enough percentage that they can trust their first shot. They shoot a lot of threes (23.2 per game) which means that shots are rarely blocked by Efes’ opponents (1.8 per game).

Defense: Efes does not play lockdown defense, they have survived despite giving up 80.2 points per game because they have the ability to score more on offense. One of Efes’ biggest problems has been their 83.4 points allowed per game on the road. This is caused by a struggle to defensive rebound (65.1%) and putting opponents at the line far too frequently (18 times per game).

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