Until at least late November, the world’s best professional basketball is being played overseas. Perhaps the most competitive is Euroleague, a league where the top teams in Europe face off against each other once a week. With real basketball going on, it makes sense to bring back Savvy/Shabby with a focus primarily on the Euroleague.
CSKA Moscow’s Zone Offense
Euroleague 2011-2012 kicked off on Monday as CSKA Moscow faced off against Zalgiris Kaunas. During their first defensive possession of the second quarter, Zalgiris tried to throw a zone at CSKA Moscow but CSKA was able to counter with some fantastic player moving, stretching the zone, and creating a wide-open jump shot.
We pick up CSKA Moscow’s set right after the ball gets sent to the wing. Once that happens, you have all five players off the basketball taking off and moving. You first have the offensive player on the weakside block flashing to the basketball. As that happens, Alexey Shved comes from the opposite wing and heads to the strong side corner. Once Shved leaves, Milos Teodosic replaces him, creating space and allowing the fourth and final player off of the ball to fill his spot at the top of the key. Once that top of the key spot is filled, the ball gets swung around.
Upon making the catch, the ball quickly gets swung to Teodosic. Moscow’s post player flashes from the low block to the basketball, where he will be setting a screen for Teodosic. The man who started with the basketball and just swung it to the top of the key now cuts off of the big’s back and heads to the (new) strong side.
The final cut to the strong side sucks the defense in as both players seem to think they are responsible for the cut and the result is both defenders in the middle of the paint.
As Teodosic comes off of the screen, he spots Shved in the corner, who is left wide-open by the defense on the back side. Because both defenders in the back of the zone went with the cutter, nobody is there to cover Shved.
Teodosic hits Shved, who is able to make the catch, rise up, and let it go before the defense can close out on him and bother the shot. Shved knocks it down and stretches CSKA Moscow’s lead to 12. Here is the play in real time:
Watching the play, you get a pretty good sense of how much trouble player movement off the basketball gives a zone. Here, the defense is trying to pass off players to each other, but in the end, they don’t get their rotations and responsibilities correct and that allows Shved to get a wide-open three.
Vlado Ilievski’s Poor Shot Selection
In week two, Anadolu Efes faced off against Belgacom Spirou at home in probably the most exciting game of the first two weeks. Trailing by two points with the basketball, Anadolu Efes had to take the basketball the length of the court with just 13 seconds left. It seemed that Efes had the right idea, but poor execution and shot selection from Vlado Ilievski did them in:
Efes quickly gets the basketball inbounds to Ilievski who hustles to get the basketball into the frontcourt. Once Ilievski crosses halfcourt, Efes gives Ilievski a screen at the top of the key with about 10 seconds left. As Ilievski comes off of the screen, Belgacom Spirou does the unthinkable and executes a straight switch, putting a big on Ilievski, who is a guard. Ilievski pulls the ball out with nine seconds left and it looks like he is about to take advantage of the mismatch. Instead, he takes a 30-footer. With six seconds left.
I don’t fault taking a three if it’s there. However, when at home you should be playing for the tie, getting the crowd back in the game, and then winning the game in overtime. With Spirou switching the screen, this is the correct play 100 percent of the time, but Ilievski bails them out by deciding to hoist up a three-point shot.