By: Rob Scott / @robscott33
JBAM has flipped his Regular Season cassette tape over to Side B and he’s getting ready to blast out the remix of a Week One matchup that had all the things he loves to see. Blocks, oops, dunks and snarls, and that was just from Big Sofo.
ELA was en la casa when these teams squared up in Madrid last month and it turned out to be one of the games of the season so far, Madrid coming out on top by 85-78. When Rudy Fernandez couldn’t slide through the Greens’ defense he jumped over it, and Sofo had one of his games that makes the Baby Shaq tag seem like less of a jokey joke.
It’s Panathinaikos (2-3) vs. Real Madrid (4-1) this Thursday at 20:45 CET.
Why JBAM’s Watching
Panathinaikos is sitting at 2-3, and a 2-4 hole at this point of the campaign only means more digging, especially with Cantu sitting on the same record and looking more like last season’s sneak attack threat. So, only the most talented team in Europe to overcome then, should be no biggie? Can they just throw it into Sofo like last time, and will they get more than the 15mpg the big guy has managed this year? Madrid has been on cruise control for a couple weeks but if the first game is anything to go by, that won’t get it done in OAKA.
Having said that, things in Athens have changed since Week One. Hilton Armstrong is out, Marcus Banks is in. When your main guy in the middle plays less than half a game on average, it seems odd to replace his backup with a shoot-first point guard, especially when you already have two established playmakers. But then not much coming out of the club makes sense lately. Either way, it just doesn’t seem like Dimitris Diamantidis and Kostas Tsartsaris, the only guys here who remember the good times, are ready to quit just yet.
Who JBAM’s Watching
Dimitris Diamantidis put up one of the worst stat lines of his career last week in the home loss to BC Khimki, with zero points, an oh-fer from the three point line and even his four assists spoiled by five turnovers. He needs to go for a more vintage look when Madrid come to town.
Even though he sometimes played off the ball with Calathes or Saras last season, it doesn’t seem like he’s totally clicked with Roko Ukic. Now with Banks possibly joining the backcourt, it’s likely to get even more complicated. He has lost all of his pick and roll buddies with Batiste, Vougioukas and Maric departing in the summer, but he needs to do more than just sit at the three point line putting up shots.
If Sofo balls like he did in Madrid, dumping it to the big guy is a legitimate plan, especially when even double teams didn’t slow him down. If that doesn’t happen, PAO needs to create different looks, especially difficult when Dontaye Draper is such a ball hawk and Madrid’s bigs are so good at switching. That’s on DD’s shoulders.
Last season, Diamantidis led the Euroleague in post-ups, but through five games he has attempted six shots from inside the arc and twenty-five from behind it.
Real Madrid’s 114.7 ORAT is second in the Euroleague, behind Zalgiris’ frankly insane 122.4.
Panathinaikos has put up an 0.39 3PA/FGA ratio, good for third overall. Madrid’s is a surprisingly low 0.32
Despite their reputation for running, Madrid’s 73.6 possessions per game is good for only 11th in the league, with Panathinaikos in at 13th with 73.4
Nikola Mirotic drew eight fouls in the Week One matchup, but only six in the four games since.
JBAM’s Autocorrect All-Stars
Roko Ukic = Tojo Unix
Dimitris Diamanatidis = Dimitris Foams Todos
Stephane Lasme = Stephane Laser
Nikola Mirotic = Nikola Moronic
Dontaye Draper = Don’t Ate Draper
Mirza Begic = Mirzagovina Chic (Apple has officially hacked into our brains.)
I’ve got Madrid rolling out 81-70 victors.
Sam Meyerkopf has Real walking into Athens and coming out wounded but still winning by the count of 85-78.
Nick Gibson thinks Madrid races past Panathinaikos 80-77.