The guys from BasketBlog asked me to breakdown the playoff between PAO and Barcelona.
I think the best thing I can do is to explain some details I like from these teams. And that’s what I want to show you.
Let’s start with the Greek team, always one of the favorites to reach the F4 and once there, to get the trophy.
They’ve been the best pick and roll team for years, and they still master that situation. They read the defense, no matter if their rivals switch, flash, trap… they manage to score off the ball screen. As we see in the video, they face different kind of defenses but score anyway.
Another of PAO’s weapons is to play in low post for Diamantidis. For sure they will try to post him up against Navarro and also against Barcelona’s pointguards.
They are simply great looking for the wide open teammate, especially when the ball goes inside. They play well on weak side, and they have good passers from low post.
And if we talk about defense, Panathinaikos players are really aggressive and make very good helps. When defending ball screens, their weak side defenders are always aware and ready to rotate in case they need to. Also, in case of miss match, they keep playing hard (small against big) and often trap to avoid advantages.
Finally, I’ll show you how they change from zone defense to man to man, a good trick from coach Obradovic to defend the last seconds of the shotclock.
Now Barcelona, considered, again, the best European team (at least that’s what we think in Spain!) They bring many players back from last seasons, and Coach Pascual lead the team mixing strength and skills, talent and size… His team is… a team! And that’s not easy nowadays.
As we can see in the video, their spacing is great, whatever they run in offense (mostly with 4 guys out and 1 in) they create isolations inside and outside, leaving space for the smalls to drive and for the bigs to post up or to roll hard in pick and roll situations (with interesting situations like two ball screens in a row for their guards…) reading and playing the high – low very well… It’s great how they use the corners to let their power forwards hit the three from that spot (Morris, Lorbek) and how their “go to” players (e.g. Navarro) share the ball for the good of the team. They always find the wide open player, they play, as I said, like a team.
What can I say about their quick pick and roll situations? With players like Ricky Rubio pushing the ball, and looking for the screener, PAO will have to run back really fast and be ready to defend from the first second of Barcelona’s offense.
And, of course, Barcelona’s defense is arguably the best in the Euroleague… They help each other, they don’t stop when they are beaten, they use their hands very well to steal the ball, they have players who love to block shots… And I can’t forget their rotations’ defense when facing outside players posting up…
So, let’s get ready for an incredible play off, and let the best team win!