As we take a step back to look at week four’s Euroleague action, it is safe to say that things are heating up. Not only have the games been fantastic and competitive, another eight games last week were decided by less than 10 points. As the regular season continues, we are starting to see a lot of teams bunching together — group A’s first place and last place teams are separated by just one game in the loss column — meaning each game and each moment is all the more important. Here, we are going to take yet another look at two key plays from week four of the Euroleague.

Josh Shipp’s Smart Cut Helps Seal the Game

Up six points with about two-and-a-half minutes left in their game against Olimpija, Galatasaray Medical Park were looking for a basket to clinch the game. A lot of player movement by Galatasaray was able to set up Josh Shipp and put him in a position to make a smart cut off his defender to get open for the basket that effectively ended the game.

We pick up the play at the top of the key near halfcourt after Galatasaray inbounded the ball from the baseline. Once the ball gets near halfcourt, Shipp and his teammate interchange with Shipp going from the block to the wing while his teammate replaces him.

Once Shipp gets to the wing, his teammate who passed it to him cuts through and ends up on the strong side corner. As that is happening another teammate on the weakside wing walks his man to the middle of the lane and then flashes to the top of the key, making himself available for the pass.

Shipp hits him with the pass at the top of the key, and then cuts through from the wing on one side of the court to the block on the opposite side of the court.

What all of this passing and player movement puts a lot of pressure on the defense and forces them to pay attention to a lot of things. That is exactly what happens to Shipp’s defender on this play, as he starts paying attention to the ball handler coming off the screen and the roll man rolling to the rim, losing sight of Shipp. This is where Shipp makes a really hard play. Seeing his defender take his eyes off him, he cuts off his back into an open area.

Shipp gets the ball, and with the space his cut created, is able to get a shot off before his defender can close out on him. The result is a made jumper and an 8-point lead with about two minutes left. Here is the play in real time:

Watching the play in real time, you really get a sense for the type of confusion that Galatasaray’s movement and passing causes. Shipp’s defender simply loses sight of him and the result is a score.

A Costly Foul Loses the Game for Olympiacos

With the game tied and 24 seconds remaining, Bennet Cantu had the basketball with the game tied looking for a go ahead basket to defeat Olympiacos. However, before they were able to try and get a score, Michalis Pelekanos made it easy for them, by playing defense way too aggressively and picking up a foul. Here is the possession in real time:

In international play, there are some teams that value the possession more than the score and are willing to commit a foul with the game tied if it means they will get the final possession. This clearly was not the case in this situation. By watching the clip, it is obvious that Olympiacos was trying to play straight defense and get a legitimate stop.

However, as soon as the ball handler crosses halfcourt, Michalis Pelekanos is simply being way too aggressive. He is leaning his body up against his man and is flailing his arms at him in a feeble attempt to steal the basketball. Fortunately for Pelekanos, that foul doesn’t get called, but as he works around a ball screen he reaches out and grabs the screener as he attempts to roll to the rim. It is an obvious foul that will get called 10 times out of 10, and with the score tied, it is one you don’t want to be committing. The fouled screener hits the two free throws and Olympiacos ended up losing the game.