Russia's Defense Stifles Greece
Russia 61, Greece 53
- Russia beat Greece at their own game--a tight grind-it-out defensive affair. Basically, Greece got beat with a better version of themselves today. Russia totally took Greece out of what they wanted to run, and they flipped the script by forcing 20 TOs on Greece--Greece is the team that's supposed to force 20 TOs per. We figured Russia's calling card would be defense, but Coach David Blatt has ratcheted up the defense to a whole 'nother level.
- Basically this game was strictly about defense. Both offenses were brutal clanking shots the whole game, so much so that this game was difficult to watch in some spots--both teams combined to shoot 38/106 from the floor. Think mid-90s Eastern Conference, it even had a few dust-ups thrown in for good measure.
- The intense Blatt's demand for tough defense has made him one of the finest coaches in Europe, and possibly a Euro coach who could make the jump to the NBA. I know my partner would not mind him bumping out Doc Rivers to steer his beloved Celts.
- Russia does not have the most capable offense, and it showed today--they shot 34% from the field & 6/23 from 3pt. But then again this team is not known for its shooting or scoring acumen, and is built around their defensive tenacity. Kirilenko led Russia 12 pts & 17 rebs (5 off). Former Bucknell standout JR Holden led all scorers with 17 pts. Viktor Khyrapa had 13, 5 rebs, & 3 stls.
- Hard to tell exactly what Russia was in defensively sometimes--it seemed like almost a zone-man hybrid thing sometimes. Led by the two-headed monster of Kirilenko & Khyrapa on defense--both long, athletic wings who cover a ton of ground. Kirilenko was moving all over the place in a rover role--Blatt had him up high or down low, same with Khyrapa. Both Kirilenko & Khyrapa both got some cracks checking Papaloukas & Diamantidis, and their length bothered the Greeks. AK47 also had a fantastic block late in the 4th where he appeared at the last possible moment to snuff out a sure lay-in for Spanoulis.
- Never seen Papaloukas play this poorly & look this frustrated--was caught in the air multiple times & forced into unlikely turnovers. Theo had 5 TOs & 0 assts;Greece's other steady floor general, Diamantidis, did not fare well either--Dimis had 4 TOs of his own. Theo & Dimis did not play well vs. Serbia either, but some of the blame has to be put on their teammates for not hitting their shots. Greece did themselves no favors shooting 58% from the FT line.
- The loss of Antonis Fotsis looks to be affecting Greece even more than expected. Fotsis was arguably their most talented scoring threat, and probably their best pure shooter for this shaky shooting team. Also, the big fella Sofoklis could have come in handy as well, carving out space in the painted area to shoot a high percentage.