The 7DAYS EuroCup is barreling towards an exciting conclusion with two semifinals on tap in which all four teams have their strong points when it comes to offensive and defensive efficiency.
Semifinalists' Efficiency Summary
Virtus Segafredo Bologna leads the 7DAYS EuroCup in both offensive and defensive efficiency this season. In the quarterfinals, they matched up with Joventut Badalona—the second-most efficient offensive team. Holding a team that had averaged 1.04 points per possession through the regular season and Top 16 to just 0.89 points per possession over two victories, Virtus came through with a strong performance on the defensive end. Scoring 0.97 points per possession over those two games, Virtus was not particularly effective creating out of ball-screens. That is a point of interest in Virtus's semifinal matchup with a UNICS Kazan team that ranks as the EuroCup's top pick-and-roll defense this season. While Virtus has been dominant for stretches defensively all year, it was two-way brilliance that has helped the Italian team stay undefeated. It will be fascinating to see how quickly Virtus can regain its rhythm offensively against UNICS and what kind of impact that has on that series at large.
UNICS Kazan outlasted Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in a hotly contested three-game series to advance to the semfinals matchup with Virtus. Finishing the series with a negative point differential but still notching two victories, UNICS was able to lean on its three-point shooting to close the deal and overcome some inconsistency around the rim. Holding serve defensively relative to its regular season standard, UNICS could present a challenge for Virtus if it can maintain consistency on the defensive end and get a couple of explosive shooting performances. Jamar Smith will play a key role in this team's ability to do the latter after he finished second in the quarterfinals by averaging 18.7 points per game while going 10-for-16 from beyond the arc.
AS Monaco narrowly escaped its quarterfinal series with Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. Dropping Game 1 and winning Game 3 by just 3 points, Monaco defended the three-point line well enough to compensate for its own struggles from deep. Matthias Lessort was the hero in the series finale, scoring 24 points over 20 possessions in a game that neither team ever led by more than 6 points. Crashing the glass at a high level and scoring consistently around the rim, Lessort finished second in points per game in the quarterfinals. His ability to sustain that type of productivity against a Gran Canaria team that ranks second this season allowing opponents just 51% shooting in half-court finishing situations could be key for Monaco.
Herbalife Gran Canaria has been the EuroCup's most efficient off-ball scoring team this season, excelling in spot-up and cut situations. While Boulogne Metropolitans 92 did a nice job running Gran Canaria's shooters off spots in the quarterfinals, Gran Canaria found the open man inside very consistently to compensate. The islanders will face an interesting challenge against a Monaco defense that has closed out shooters as well as any team all season and has done an above-average job of making rotations to protect the rim as well.