Round 9 of the 7DAYS EuroCup featured a few teams making runs at key moments to get through to the Top 16.
Whether it's a couple of stops or made baskets on consecutive possessions early in a game to build a lead or a frantic late-game comeback, team success in the EuroCup is based largely on runs. How well a team can build and carry momentum can often be the difference between advancing or being eliminated as the stakes get higher due to the high level of parity the competition typically features from year to year. Synergy Sports Technology gathers information possession-by-possession, making it possible to filter efficiency data by time and score to show which EuroCup teams build the biggest leads by quarter.
EuroCup Efficiency Margin by Quarter
The graphic above displays the top teams in the EuroCup in efficiency differential for each of the four quarters. When segmented to show specific stretches of games, efficiency margin is a very good indicator of when teams build leads or go on runs as it shows the difference between points-per-possession scored and points-per-possession allowed, eliminating the impact of pace. It also provides some insight into the flow of an average EuroCup game, revealing when and how well coaches and players make in-game adjustments.
On average, EuroCup teams commit turnovers less frequently and make three-point shots more consistently in the first quarter than any other because their offensive execution tends to shine after the opening tip. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, UNICS Kazan and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar form the top tier of first-quarter performers thanks largely to their defensive play. Zvezda has been the EuroCup's strongest starter thanks to stout interior defense. Closing out on shooters well enough to force drives, but then allowing a competition-best 44% shooting inside in first quarters, the Serbian power takes away easy looks on the perimeter without sacrificing rim protection. Zvezda also excels offensively, scoring with terrific efficiency when setting up shooters for high-percentage shots out of pick-and-rolls.
Offensive efficiency in the EuroCup peaks in the second quarter, when teams average 0.99 points per possession, a number approaching the gold-standard 1.00 mark. No team has taken advantage of that more than Unicaja Malaga, whose second-quarter dominance exceeds that of any other team in any other quarter. Despite mixing its second-quarter rotations consistently, Unicaja has made shots at an elite level regardless of what players were on the floor. Unicaja has built what is the EuroCup's second-highest overall scoring margin largely from its dominate second quarters.
Third quarters are, by far, the least efficient offensively for EuroCup teams because of significant defensive adjustments that offenses must figure out before restoring their scoring rhythm. Many of the league's top teams have found success in the third quarter, however. AS Monaco posts the highest efficiency margin, followed closely by UNICS and Valencia Basket. Though grouped closely, those three teams have found success in different ways. UNICS and Valencia have not seen the same offensive drop-off as the rest of the league coming out of halftime, while Monaco's defense allows only 0.74 points per possession in the third quarter, far and away the lowest mark of any team in any quarter this season. Shutting down opposing shooters while frustrating opposing ball handlers in the pick-and-roll, Monaco really ratchets up its intensity after halftime.
Somewhat surprisingly, offensive efficiency tends to recover in the fourth quarter of EuroCup games, even after adjusting for the extra free throws that often come late in games. Teams struggle a bit with turnovers as fatigue sets in and execution is disrupted, but also find more success attacking the rim. Valencia, Zvezda and Kuban comprise the top tier of fourth-quarter performers. Valencia is especially successful defensively, forcing turnovers on more than a third of the pick-and-roll situations. Its defenders are not afraid to extend their pressure, realign on the help side, and switch outright against the two-man game, showing great attention to detail and communication while mixing up their coverages. The result is that Valencia disrupts the most comfortable means that most teams have of creating quality shots.
As the EuroCup inches closer to the Top 16, it will be interesting to see which of these teams can continue to find success – and at what key points in the game – as the pressure continues to mount.