Friday, September 16, 2011

EuroBasket 2011 Quarters Analysis: Russia & France Win To Set Up Semifinal Matchup


The close contest that was anticipated never materialized as Russia kept Serbia from ever getting in sync.

Extra possessions were a key to Russia's victory as both teams shot roughly the same percentage from the floor and behind the 3pt. line. 12 Russian steals helped lead to a total of 19 Serbian turnovers while Russia had 13 TOs. Russia also stole some more possessions off the backboards. Both teams grabbed 23 defensive boards but Russia secured 14 offensive boards to Serbia's five offensive boards.

Russia's aggressive defense was once again a factor, taking key Serbs out of their comfort zones. Russia never stayed with any specific defensive alignment for too long, which kept Serbia from getting too comfortable. This is a coach David Blatt trademark. Awesome at mixing up his defensive looks.

Saw a little bit of a traditional matchup zone then saw some of Russia's zone with defenders moving out of their area. Threw some three-quarter-court presses at Serbia during different stretches of the game. The press seemed to give Serbia some issues. Mentioned this many times before, but again want to stress how well Russia swarms to the ball. And Russians also stripped the ball multiple times.

Russia never let Milos Teodosic pick them apart with his passing (only managed three assists). They threw different defenders on Milos and often guys just as tall as him. Russia did a good job harassing him up high and extra help was always lurking when he tried to probe. Milos usually has the size advantage at PG, but not so much today.

Teodosic did end with 20 points but it came on 6-of-15 shooting and 2-for-10 on 3PA. Milos was a big reason for Serbia's turnover troubles--coughed up nine TOs, stripped of the ball a few times. Milos has shot the ball way below his capabilities in this tourney and has turned the ball over more than normal.

Russia got nice contributions from nearly the whole roster once again. Russia did a nice job utilizing the cutting action of their offense and they found the open man well. Have done a good job at Euro '11 scoring off cuts.

Andrei Kirilenko was so active all over the floor, jumping passing lanes, crashing the boards and tracking to the ball on defense. Kirienko led the Russians with 14 points, plenty coming at the foul line (8-of-9), which came from aggressive play. Andrei had a vintage varied stat line: 14 pts, 11 rebs (6 off.), 6 assts, 4 stls & 2 blks.

Like Kirilenko, Vik Khryapa brought his all-around game to the party, putting up 11 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assts, & 2 stls. Also like Kirilenko, Khryapa made some nice dishes to cutters.

Timo Mozgov managed to play only 21 minutes because of five fouls but Timo was productive, especially in the first quarter. Timo scored all of his eight points in the 1st (mostly on rolls) and altered a few shots early as well.

Alexey Shved continued his strong play for Russia with 10 points and five assists. Shved did a great job getting to the rim, particularly in transition (had a nice coast-to-coast drive). Also made some soft drop passes off of pick-n-roll action.

Andrey Vorontsevich (11 pts on 5-of-7 in 16 mins.) had another productive performance off the bench, working off the ball well and splashing in a few jumpers.

One issue that continues to plague the Russians: free throws. Russia shot 8-for-15 from the line and now stands at 62% for EuroBasket (dead last). Definitely something to be concerned about going into the semifinal vs. France, which currently shoots 81% on FT (2nd best).

Serbia made the wise decision to get the ball to Nenad Krstic more in the 2nd half, especially when Mozgov was out of the game. Nenad (13 pts, 5 rebs) took advantage of Russia's lack of a reserve center and did a good job forcing fouls around the basket and got most of his points at the FT line (9-of-10).

Serbia still has a meaningful game left as they play Greece tomorrow for the last pre-Olympic qualifying tournament bid. If Serbia wins, there is a good chance they will get to host the pre-Olympic tourney next summer.


A fairly non-descript game for most of the game that was hard to keep interest in--incredibly dull game. Game got somewhat more interesting in the 4th when France's offense started to pick up.

Greece did a fine job dialing down the tempo and frustrating the French offense for most of the game. Greece led the entire game up until France took its first lead with 8:00 left in the 4th. France finally found rhythm on offense to outscore Greece 24-13 in the final stanza to take the victory.

Nic Batum was fairly quiet for most of the game, but came through big in the 4th. Nic scored 10 of his 15 points in the quarter, including two 3PA. Batum was primarily responsible for the key sequence of the game. Batum made big plays on three consecutive possessions with under two minutes left:
    With 1:50 left, Batum came off a down screen on the left side and made a 17-footer to push the French lead to 58-54. France has been successful all tourney curling Nic into the lane off that left-side screen.

    On the ensuing defensive possession, Batum snuffed out a Nick Calathes drive at the basket.

    Then Nic wentaway from a left-side screen to finish with a short baseline runner to give France a 60-54 lead with 1:15 left.
Tony Parker (18 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assts, 4 TOs) probably had his weakest game of the tourney, shooting 7-for-18 overall and never getting into a flow until he dropped eight points in the 4th. Parker made a couple of mid-range jumpers off of pick-n-roll and made a nifty reverse lay-in of a ball screen as well in the final quarter.

Nando De Colo gave France a much needed boost off the bench late in the 1st quarter. De Colo scored 10 points in a four-minute span in the late 1st/early 2nd. Third game in a row that De Colo scored in double figures after averaging 2.2 ppg over the first six games. Nando hit a couple pull-up jumpers and knocked down two 3PA. Also added a sweet drive in transition.

Though Greece gave up 24 points in the 4th, can't really fault defensive effort as a whole. Did a nice job minimizing France's potent transition game. The Greek bigs were sloughed off in the lane all game, showing no respect for Noah. Rarely let Parker get deep penetration. They were willing to help off shooters to help on Parker's penetration attempts, and this worked for most of the game. Thought they made a few poor decisions guarding Parker ball screens (going over the top or getting hung up too much).

Greece's failure to hold the lead can be blamed mostly on its punchless offense. Greece really struggled to create much separation from French defenders all game and Bouroussis is the only player who occasionally needed double-team help.

It was clearly obvious in this game that Greece desperately needed a capable shot-creator like Vassilis Spanoulis or Dimis Diamantidis. Not surprisingly, Greece's offense has been subpar all tourney without their key options and they connected on only 34% of their shots vs. France.

Giannis Bourousis (17 pts, 11 rebs) was the only Greek player to have much impact on the offensive end. Greece went through Giannis in the post often, where he scored on a few turnarounds and drew fouls. Bourousis also did a nice job rolling and cutting to the basket.

Greece goes on to face Serbia on Friday to determine the final pre-Olympic bid out of Europe.


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