Wednesday, September 07, 2011

EuroBasket 2011 Second Round Reset & Analysis

• Also today on The Painted Area: EuroBasket/FIBA/IOC Musings & Rantings

The EuroBasket field has been cut in half and now all 12 remaining teams move to the Siemens Arena in Vilnius for the second round. The top three teams in opening-round Groups A and B form Group E, while the top three teams from Groups C and D form Group F.

Each team plays three games against the three teams from the opposite opening-round group. Each team plays three games with a day off between games.

The top four finishers in each group advance to the single-elimination playoff stage which will be held at the Zalgiris Arena in Kaunas from Sept. 14-18th.

Let's take a look at the second-round groups:

Group E:
1) France (2-0)
2) Spain (1-1)
3) Serbia (1-1)
4) Lithuania (1-1)
5) Turkey (1-1)
6) Germany (0-2)

Summary: Look at that list of teams, it's loaded. Six of the top eight teams left In EuroBasket. Wish we could take these six teams then just add Slovenia and Russia for the knockout stage. Two of these teams have no shot at making the Olympics.

France has the big advantage as the only team with two wins. Tony Parker has been abusing defenses and his 23 ppg was good for second on the ppg leaderboard behind Luol Deng. Why teams have continued to pick up Parker up high, and failed to go underneath Parker ball screens, I'm not sure. It's been a bit maddening.

France's other main NBAers (NIc Batum Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw) have been solid on both ends of the floor, while former Sonic Mickael Gelabale has been their designated deadeye.

France has been successful playing some of the best offensive ball they've ever played. They lead Euro '11 in ppg (87.6) and are second in points per possession (83.4 per 70 poss.) and FG pct. (53%).

But they have not looked all that great when teams have zoned them up. Which hasn't been enough. And I'm still not sure why Germany abandoned its zone which was working well vs. France. Gelabale is the one guy you have to locate, but make this team prove they will make their outside shots. They are shooting 40% from 3pt. land, but they only average 12 3PA/game. Opposing teams need to get those 3PA numbers up.

Wouldn't worry too much about Spain's loss to Turkey as they didn't have Pau and Spain doesn't worry too much about their quarters seed as long as they make the playoffs. Spain showed vs. Lithuania that when they are locked in (with a healthy Pau), they can dominate any team in the field. The only minor issue to keep an eye on is their 3pt. shooting--they've been off from behind the arc (30%).

Pau Gasol is on target for back-to-back EuroBasket MVP awards as he's averaging 22 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1 spg and 65% shooting. The rest of the main crew (Navarro, Calderon, Ibaka, Marc & Rudy) have looked solid and Spain has done a nice job spreading the touches around.

Think the last spot will come down to Serbia and Turkey. The one advantage Turkey has is that they still get to play Germany, the weakest team in the group, while Serbia has Spain and Lithuania on the schedule. The Turkey-Serbia game likely will decide the last playoff berth in Group E.

Serbia suffered a tough OT loss to France, but they played France well and have looked solid in Group B play. Deep roster with terrific chemistry and smart coaching. Milos Teodosic's shooting has been off the mark, but his playmaking has been masterful. Generates so many points for this team and currently leads tourney in assists (7.6). Nenad Krstic and Dusko Savanovic have given Serbia quality minutes as well.

Lithuania's offense has been one of the best in the field--lead in points per possession (83.6 per 70), FG pct. (55.6%) and 3pt. pct. (48.6%). The point guard play has been adequate with Saras Jasikevicius still showing mastery of the pick-n-roll and Mantas Kalnietis making his shots when needed (not his strong suit), though both need to cut down on careless mistakes.

We said in our preview that we wouldn't be surprised if Turkey got to the finals or got bounced in the first round. They almost did the latter. Still not sure what to expect from them game-to-game. The win over Spain was big, not so much that they beat Spain, as that it let them carry a win into the second round.

Turkey's young forwards Emer Preldzic and Enes Kanter have both played well in their senior-team debuts, though Turkey could use a little bit more from their veteran forward tandem of Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova. Give some credit to Hedo for not forcing the action as much as he has in the past.

It looks like Dirk's hopes at making another Olympics are close to over unless Germany can pull multiple upsets. Dirk will get his 20+ a game and Kaman will give Germany at least 10 & 10. Heiko Schaffartzik might get you double figures but after that you can't count on anyone else consistently contributing on the offensive end.

And this is kind of the way it's been through Dirk's tenure on the national team. Very little scoring support, particularly in the backcourt. Dirk guided Germany to the 2005 Euro finals, but the draw doesn't work in their favor this year. If Germany's in Group F, they're the third-best team. So I'd have to imagine these next three games will be Dirk's last go-round with Team Deutschland.

1) Russia (2-0)
2) Macedonia (2-0)
3) Slovenia (1-1)
4) Greece (1-1)
5) Georgia (0-2)
6) Finland (0-2)

Summary: Not quite as imposing as Group E, huh. Russia and Slovenia are the two best teams and should be expected to make the playoffs. Russia's defense has been in fine form as usual and David Blatt has used his roster well, getting contributions from nearly everyone.

The Russian defense leads the field in points allowed, 64.8 ppg, and are third in defensive FG pct, 41%. This is nothing new for a David Blatt-led Russian team. What's a little surprising is that Russia is allowing roughly 49% on 2PA. They usually hold their opponents in the low 40s. Though, as usual, they are shutting down the 3pt. line (27%).

Macedonia is in great shape thanks to carrying over two wins from the opening round. Bo McCalebb has been shredding defenses with his speed and alongside Milos Teodosic and Ante Tomic, he has been the best non-NBAer at EuroBasket. Bigs Pero Antic and Todor Gechevski can float out to the 3pt. line. Though, their perimeter guys can be erratic and teams should definitely make McCalebb a jump shooter. Macedonia takes care on their boards and keeps their TOs down (lowest TOpg in tourney).

Slovenia's defense has been pretty tight as well but its offense should be performing at a higher level. It's surprising how poorly the offense has been considering the options they have. Slovenia is currently shooting 40.5% overall and 26.4% behind the arc, scoring just 72.2 points per 70 possessions. Slovenia is better than these numbers.

Goran Dragic needs to find his groove as he has been rather lackluster. Goran is only averaging 8.4 ppg and 3 apg and has reverted back to his errant shooting ways--1-for-17 on 3PA. Rick Carlisle doppelgänger Erazem Lorbek (12.6 ppg) has been alright, but he should be producing a little more, like he was at Euro '09.

Not surprisingly, Greece's offense has struggled without Vassilis Spanoulis and Sofo Schortsanitis, scoring just 72.7 points per 70 possessions. But they have neutralized it with a return to the Coach Giannakis-era defense-first mentality. They are currently holding opponents to 64.8 ppg (3rd best) on 37% shooting (1st). Also, the Greeks lead EuroBasket in rebounding at 40 rpg, even though they are playing at one of the slower paces, and are currently outrebounding their opponents by a +7.8 rpg margin. Greece will likely only have to beat Georgia to earn a bid to the playoffs, but they could also challenge Russia and Slovenia.

Georgia brings a 0-2 record into the second round but has the fortune of facing Greece, Macedonia and Finland. They can stay competitive with each of those teams, though the injury which has knocked Zaza Pachulia out of the rest of the tournament is a tough blow. Georgia has some kinks to work out before the second round tips off. They lead the tourney in turnovers with 18.6 per game--that's almost two more TOpg than any other team. Plus they stink at the FT line (62%). Though when they do hold onto the ball they are shooting a respectable 48.6% from the floor (3rd best).

Finland's surprise run should end as I don't see any way they get more than one win, maybe vs. Georgia. Multiple perimeter shooting threats but Petteri Koponen is the only quality dribble-driver. It's in your best interest to crowd them on the perimeter.

• Also today on The Painted Area: EuroBasket/FIBA/IOC Musings & Rantings


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