Tactics Board: Quarter-Finalists' analysis
MIES (Switzerland) - The Quarter-Finals are here and that means we get knockout basketball. The Play-Offs really is the festival part of the basketball season, so to celebrate we wrapped up a few gifts for those of you with a slightly more nerdy constitution. We have a unique lineup from each team's season so far and a special play from each coach's tactics boards to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.
Quarter-Final Series 1: Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem vs. AEK
Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem
Lineup: Speedy Smith, Levi Randolph, Or Cornelius, Mareks Majeris, Zach Hankins.
Interesting because: This lineup played eight minutes per game together in nine games. During those minutes they had a Net Rating of +41.5 points per 100 possessions. Ruthless. We wrote an article about the most underrated players in the BCL this season. Jerusalem is probably the most underrated team and this lineup is a major reason why.
- Coming out of a break in play, Jerusalem executed a play straight off Coach Dzikic's tactics board - with seven actions in the sequence.
- Everything was designed to get Brandon Brown a catch coming off a staggered screen.
- Carrington cleared a double gap in the spacing to leave extra room for Brown to work. Very creative spacing alignment.
- Brown used a killer crossover to reject the step-up ball screen and create an advantage into the double space.
It's not often you see a team execute a play with so many actions in-sequence. This Jerusalem team is able to hunt matchups and kill you with the singles but they can also hit a home run like this when they need to. Keep an eye on Brandon Brown in the Play-Offs, he's a player with the perfect skill set for knockout basketball.
Lineup: Dimitris Flionis, Janis Strelnieks, Kenny Williams, Isaiah Miles, Akil Mitchell.
Interesting because: This lineup played the best part of seven minutes per game in eight games of the season. When they were on the floor together, they conceded just 97.6 points per 100 possessions, the only regular lineup for AEK to be under 100.
- Miles cut into the dunker spot and both corners lifted before the pick-and-roll.
- Mitchell opened his body to roll and receive the early pass vs aggressive defensive coverage.
- The defense was forced to choose between helping off a shooter (Miles) or allowing Mitchell an open roll to the rim.
- Miles leaked out to the three-point line, Lemar sold the kick-out pass with his eyes, then made the crafty dump-off pass to Mitchell.
Very simple play from Ilias Kantzouris but illustrates perfectly the way AEK leverage their biggest threats to force defenses into impossible choices. They will miss Strelnieks but with a talent like Lemar, they have a player ready to step up in his absence.
Quarter-Final Series 2: Unicaja vs. UCAM Murcia
Lineup: Kendrick Perry, Tyson Carter, Jonathan Barreiro, Will Thomas, David Kravish.
Interesting because: This lineup played only four minutes per game together in just four games this season but Unicaja had a ridiculous Net Rating of +55.7 points per 100 possessions during those minutes. Unicaja rebounded 41.7 percent of their own misses and shot 52 percent from three with this lineup on the court.
- Coming out of a timeout against AEK, Coach Navarro drew up a play to throw an inbound pass, alley-oop.
- Stack alignment made it difficult for the defense to go under screens because it would leave an easy "flare" out to the corner and open shot for Carter (40 percent from deep this season).
- Defense chased and Kalinoski was the misdirection cutting off the same stack immediately after.
Only Telekom Baskets Bonn and Coach Iisalo have been more efficient than Ibon Navarro coming out of timeouts this season. Unicaja have scored 9.6 points per game after a timeout or break in play. Having a player like Carter that is able to play as a playmaker or shooter, and also catch lobs is a luxury that gives Navarro so many options. Carter is absolutely a candidate to watch for in the Play-Offs
Lineup: Tomas Bellas, Thad McFadden, James Anderson, Nemanja Radovic, Artem Pustovyi.
Interesting because: This lineup played more than seven minutes per game together in six games for Murcia. During those minutes they had a Defensive Rating of just 91.7 points per 100 possessions conceded. They also rebounded an absurd 73.4 percent of their opponents' misses.
- Baseline out-of-bounds design from Sito Alonso.
- Rojas used a curl cut to get open and receive the inbound.
- Jelinek made a misdirection cut to the weak side corner.
- The defense naturally went under the screen as no threat was posed on the weak side.
- Jelinek waited for the under then timed his cut off the staggered screen for an open three-ball.
This play is very typical of Coach Alonso's offensive system. If they don't run pick-and-roll plays for the likes of Trice and McFadden, off-ball screening actions and misdirection are the next things you are likely to see and they are very, very good at it.
Quarter-Final Series 3: Telekom Baskets Bonn v SIG Strasbourg
Telekom Baskets Bonn
Lineup: T.J. Shorts, Karsten Tadda, Tyson Ward, Finn Delany, Leon Kratzer.
Interesting because: This five only shared the floor together in three games but played more than 10 minutes per game in those three. They shot 70 percent from two-point range and 45 percent from deep. Bonn scored 126 points per 100 possessions with this lineup. Shorts, Tadda, and Delany were all present in four of Bonn's five most efficient lineups this season. If those three are on the court, look out for Bonn to go on a scoring run.
- Ensminger made the Iverson cut to receive the ball on the weak side with an empty side of the floor to attack.
- An empty side means the defense had one player with help responsibility (the man guarding #24, Williams).
- As the ball reversed, Williams and Herrera exchanged, and the defense got confused.
- Bonn punished the mistake.
This Bonn team is surgical in the way it executes actions that often look very simple. They are constantly sniffing out the mistakes made by the speed they make decisions and move the ball. They often know the mistake the defense will make before they even make it.
Lineup: Marcus Keene, DeAndre Lansdowne, Rodions Kurucs, Leo Cavaliere, Bodian Massa.
Interesting because: This is one of the longest lineups that SIG can put out, with two players at 6'10' (2.08m) and Cavaliere at 6'8" (2.02m). When these five were on the floor together SIG scored 73.8 percent of their shots inside the arc. Against Bonn, another team that doesn't have the size you find on the ACB squads, it will be interesting to see if Luca Banchi tries to find more than one lineup with as much length on the floor as possible.
- On defense, Hapoel Atsmon Holon were playing very aggressive defense on the "Nail" (FT line area). After each arrow on-screen, notice the defender takes another step in to deter any penetration.
- SIG used an overload on one side, then reversed the ball twice to move the defense around and attack the nail help.
- Eventually, they empty the weak side corner and Keene drifts into the open space when his defender helps on the nail.
Patience is absolutely one of the virtues that Luca Banchi has installed in this SIG team since taking over. They showed excellent patience to attack the weakness they had targeted in the defense and wait until they got the look they wanted.
Quarter-Final Series 3: Lenovo Tenerife v BAXI Manresa
Lineup: Marcelinho Huertas, Sasu Salin, Aaron Doornekamp, Elgin Cook, Giorgi Shermadini.
Interesting because: It's almost unerringly predictable that this would be Tenerife's most efficient lineup because it's all of their most trustworthy guys and one newcomer to the party in Elgin Cook. Tenerife have always been about continuity and steady but very smart additions to the roster. This lineup had a Net Rating of +44 points per 100 possessions when they shared the floor in six games.
- Tenerife overloaded the strong side of the floor.
- Salin set the first cross-screen for Doornekamp to get a post-catch.
- Doornekamp used a "Grenade" handoff to Huertas, then cuts over a "Flare" screen from Shermadini.
- Salin then set a back screen for Shermadini to get another post-catch.
- Shermadini used another grenade handoff and this time the defense was forced into a switch.
- Huertas punished the switch.
Tenerife might be the easiest team to scout but the hardest team to prepare for. You know most of their sets because they have been running them for years, you also know the dynamics of those sets will involve leveraging the inside threat of Shermadini against the shooting threat of Salin, with the decision-making of Huertas on the ball. That doesn't mean you can do anything about it... Especially now you add the likes of Cook and Bolmaro into the mix with the trusted gang back together.
Lineup: Dani Perez, Jerrick Harding, Guillem Juo, Devin Ray Robinson, Martinas Geben.
Interesting because: These guys only shot 37.5 percent from two-point range during the four games they appeared together. However, they also shot 45.8 percent from deep and scored at a rate of 128 points per 100 possessions. The killer stat for this lineup in the short time they played together is, entirely surprisingly, Free Throw Ratio (FTR). This lineup had an FTR of 44, meaning that for every 10 field goals attempted they shot 4.4 shots from the line!
- Perez entered the ball to Geben in the post during crunch time.
- Robinson was unusually positioned on the opposite block with Manresa in an "Old Skool" style spacing alignment.
- Perez screened for Robinson on the opposite block.
- Robinson curled as if to take the handoff and continued the curl all the way under the basket to receive the pass and get to the line.
We couldn't find a single example of Manresa using this action last season (in the ACB or BCL). This goes to show the flexibility of Pedro Martinez's system that he has completely adapted his offense to a new set of players from the squad that reached the final last year. Jerrick Harding is on an absolute tear recently and Robinson has also been a scoring machine in the Round of 16. Manresa are not to be underestimated.