Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Euroleague Final Four Preview: FCB Vs. Carroll

The big game is coming.

And there are some really good previews out there. So I want to focus in one of the situations that in my opinion will be key for the game: The way Barça will defend Real's wings, and specially JC Carroll.

I think it was one of the most important things in the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final this two teams played months ago. After that game I tweeted I was willing to watch their next game, to see if there would be a reaction from Real's bench, and what would be Barça's counter against that reaction. 

OK, their next game was two weeks ago and both teams, knowing they would face again in London, appeared to decide not to show too much, and save weapons (and efforts) for next friday's semifinal. 

There will be great players on the court. Both teams know it. Real's smalls are a headache for any team facing them. In my opinion the most special one in the white side, as he does what no other one can for Real, is JC Carroll. In the Copa del Rey game, Barcelona decided to focus their defense on him.

Carroll is a great catch and shoot player. Period. Amazing release. No need of perfect balance. Can you keep him from scoring? Not likely. You just can't stop this kind of player. But you can try to keep his percentages a little bit lower, or to avoid a couple of shots, even if you give up some other players' options.

In basketball stats count and both RMA and FCB will play against the other team's best options (and by the way if you're interested in Euroleague stats, take a look at In The Game an awsome site to learn about EL stats and how they affect the game) 

So, this is how FCB tried to stop Carroll's production when defending off ball screens, as RMA runs some really good sets to get shooting options for the Azerbaimerican.

Barça's off ball screen defense:

  • Trail the shooter, go behind his back, force him to curl, to dribble, to give an extra pass... 

  • Plus, strong hedge from the passer, we can call this "jump and swipe" 

  • Plus, rotation, being still more aggressive. Two or even three players' rotation to minimize Carroll's advantages.

Notice how in the first clip (this is actually the first time this situation happened with Carroll in the Copa del Rey game) JC and Llull read the defense really well and after the former receives the pass, the latter goes away, and when Marcelinho helps, Carroll kicks the pass for Llull to hit the three. As I said earlier, if your goal is to avoid Carroll's shots, you'll give up other players options.

  • Switch. There will be mismatch situations, but anyway, that's a risk they take. They are ready to switch once, twice... in order to keep the ball off Carroll's hands. And to face the mismatch in case Madrid find it (watch, in the second clip, Carroll's frustration when he doesn't get the ball to play the mismatch against Jawai) As we saw before, the passer's defender will jump towards Carroll and in this case they double team him putting a lot of pressure so he has to give one more pass. Team effort just in case he can beat the trap or if Madrid finds a mismatch inside the paint (watch Tomic's helps!)
Let's watch the video... and enjoy the F4!

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