Fenerbahce or Efes, who will be? That’s the question

Today I will be Fenerbahce’s coach ?, and I will write about what strategy I will use against Anadolu Efes in the first semifinal of the Final Four Turkish Airlines Euroleague.

All the strategies that will follow are based on my last two weeks of video analysis of the playoff games of Efes and also Fenerbahce. I analyzed the games using Nacsport software, which I found super useful.

I will present only the data that I collected at the last game of Efes against Barcelona because I find having the most relevance. Here are the facts:

Anadolu Efes used the Pick&Roll (PNR) 37 times during game five. They scored 39 points out of 80 using the PNR, which means 48,75% of the points. Out of 37 times, only 15 times, the PNR was successful and ended by scoring. That means a 40.54% successful rate, which I can say is quite good.

They used the following PNR’s during the game:

  1. Spread PNR on the weak (crowded) side 14 times scoring 16 points
  2. Spread PNR on the strong side 9 times scoring 15 pcoints
  3. Side PNR 7 times scoring 8 points
  4. Step-up PNR 4 times scoring 0 points
  5. High PNR 3 times scoring 2 points.

How we can observe the spread PNR was the most utilized and successful. But why they could score so many points? I identified the following problems in  Barcelona’s PNR defense, but for more understanding, I will ask you to read my post about my strategy on defending the PNR here: “All I need to know about Pick & Roll”:

  1. Late bump on rotation to the roller at Spread PNR
  2. Show on Spread PNR
  3. The split of the show on Spread PNR
  4. Under defense a few times on Spread PNR
  5. Early over defense on Side PNR which lead to a fake, then doubled by a bad switch.
  6. No bump on Spread PNR doubled by a late rotation
  7. Wrong switch on the Side PNR leaving the corner open
  8. Late close-out on the wing pcass on Spread PNR
  9. Improper rotation on the Roll and Pop at the High PNR
  10. Bad timing on switching at Spread PNR
  11. Delayed recovery on the Spread PNR

If we look at all of those mistakes, we can see the lack of strategical consistency in Barcelona’s PNR defense.

Anadolu ran on fast-break 8 times, and I included here also the actions when they scored in less than 7 seconds, managing to score 7 points. They scored the most points in transition between 8 and 16 seconds for a total of 36, and in the last 7 seconds of the offense, they scorecd 24 points. We add here 13 points out of 16 free throws, which are an excellent percentage.

The True Shooting percentage which means the shooting percentage corrected with 3-point shots made was 63.30% which is not bad at all, but “my team” (Fenerbahce, but only for the post sake ?) had acgainst Zalgiris in game 4 over 84.81%. They lost the rebounds battle in Barcelona’s favor, but they were better on turnovers, and drastically won the free throws ratio with 13 out of 16 against 3 over 5 for the opponents.

Now what I would do in terms of PNR defense, I will try to explain underneath.

For the Spread PNR, I consider the worst thing you can do when protecting it is to “Show,” because you open a passing lane to the wing and his defender is in a long close-out which we don’t want to happen. Instead, here is what I will do. The defender on the ball has to go from “contain” to “body to body,” pushing the Pick & Roll on the “crowded” side. The BIG who guards the roller will drop back a few steps closing the driving channel, and the player who guards the wing will stay in help defense. If by any chance we can’t recognize it, or it is happening too fast, the roller defender will remain in a soft hedge trying to stop the guard’s driving lane until his guy usually recovers with an “OVER” defense. The guy who defends the “crowded” side wing steps out from his position and bumps the roller towards his initial defender to narrow the amount of passing space the guard has.

If they start the Spread Pick on the side, the Big defender doesn’t go for a soft hedge and drops to the paint one step back from the free throw line to prevent the driving. The guard’s defender will go OVER. The guard’s defender boxes him out (VEER BACK). The roller defender switches and takes the guard. The picker will continue his dribble under the basket, and he will try to skip the pass to his open teammates. Everybody will go from “help” defense to “deny,” to take the skip options. What we want in the end is the same in each case: NO free throw, NO lay-up, NO three-pointer.

Defensively I will Blitz the Side PNR. I assume they will have a guy behind the ball line, a guy up on the side and one punching in the middle of the paint. If they throw the ball towards the center, everybody sprints back to his men, and if they throw it to the sideline, a full rotation should happen.

High PNR I would like to do like this: the guard defender will back up and force the player with the ball to create separation closer to the three-point line. The guard defender will go from containing mode to “body to body” forcing into the screen because first, we want to prevent rejection of the screen by faking the Pick & Roll, and also because we wish to no separation. In the same time into the paint, we must form a triangle of lane protection. Next stage is the SHOW, which must happen at the same angle as the screen, and should be violent. The “Show” man must never remain attached to his opponent because we want first to show high to delay the guard, and second, he must make room for his teammate to go OVER the screen and between the show guy and the screener for his recovery. For preventing a pass to the roller, the guy who is in the middle of the lane inside the paint, on the first step of the roller comes and meets him at the fault line, and stays with him on the roll.

After any basket made by my team, we will try to deny the inbound pass to their point guard, and force him to receive it low. After he gets it, we will focus on turning him two times or at least once in their backcourt, which I know it is a tough job against Larkin or Micic. On any made basket we will match-up with the closest man until we can rematch in our court again. Using this strategy, we will try to make them shoot in the last 7-8 seconds of the offense.

If they will go full court press or they change the defense into a Zone, I have two strategies ready, but I will not extend the explanations.

I genuinely believe that defending successfully the PNR, which means around 50% of the points will be decisive for winning.

In offense, we will run our system, and here I could say that our players perform all the actions in perfect details. The execution details made the difference between Fener and Zalgiris. For example, when Fener used any PNR the starting point, the screening angle, the roll or the pop, and even how the point guard attacks the defender after the screen, everything was almost perfect. For Zalgiris, there were a lot of imperfections.

Who will win three out of the four of the followings, and not with much, only with a little bit, will win the game:

  1. True shooting percentage
  2. Free throws attempted vs. free throws given up
  3. Rebounds percentages
  4. Turnovers

For the offensive rebounds, I will use three players, and two will go back for defensive balance.

Now, going back to reality, tomorrow we will see a great semi-final of these great teams, both of them under the lead of two coaching titans. If Obradovic starts as a favorite, let’s not ignore Ataman, who is an outstanding coach.

I believe that Fenerbahce will win, even if Vesely will not play (hopefully he will), but at this level of basketball, you never know.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.