Brown, Baldwin & Maccabi heads to game 5 back in Monaco: The Good, Bad, Ugly

May 5, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv had a memorable 104-69 victory over AS Monaco on Thursday night in game 4 of their EuroLeague quarterfinal series at Yad Eliyahu. The win sends the series back to Monaco for a deciding game 5 on Wednesday night, with the teams tied at 2-2.

Lorenzo Brown (22 points ,2 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals), Wade Baldwin IV (19 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal) and Alex Poythress (12 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist) led the scoring for the home team, while Mike James (13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists), John Brown (12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists) and Donatas Motiejunas (11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists) were the only players in double-digits for the visitors.
Here are a few of my reflections from game 4.

Lorenzo Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman.

The Good: Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin IV
There was a lot of good last night: Hilliard (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal) arriving at the game wearing an Oded Katash playing jersey; David Blatt, who coached Maccabi to its last EuroLeague championship in 2014, was inducted into the Maccabi Hall of Fame prior to tip-off; Maccabi’s 20-0 run to start the second quarter and winning the second quarter 30-12 for a 47-36 halftime lead after a disappointing first quarter (more on that below); six players scored in double-digits for the evening, including John DiBartolomeo (11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals), Hilliard and Bonzie Colson (10 points and 6 rebounds); Jake Cohen scored his first points of the series (8 points – including 2/2 from 3, 4 rebounds and 1 assist); and Maccabi scored its highest EuroLeague playoff score and scored one of its biggest playoff wins.

In a series in which Lorenzo Brown and Baldwin have struggled, the highlight for me was seeing them both playing well and not getting too emotional or distracted by dubious decisions by the referees.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Maccabi’s starting backcourt pair were the best two players on the court, with a performance index rating (PIR) of 25 and 21 respectively, dominating their opponents. Although James was arguably Monaco’s best player on the night, he wasn’t able to replicate his form from game 3, when he scored 21 points (including 4/11 from 3) to lead Monaco to an away victory in Tel Aviv. Jordan Loyd, who scored 33 points in game 2 on 5/9 from 3 100% from 2 for a 36 PIR, was held to just 4 points on 1/7 shooting from the field.

Two moments were big for me specifically. The first was in the first quarter after Monaco was on a 7-0 run, leading 13-5 and fans wondering whether this game would be similar to Tuesday night’s victory. Poythress passed the ball to Baldwin from 3-point range. Instead of looking for the basket, he took advantage of the mismatch against Motiejunas to drive along the baseline to the basket for a layup, getting fouled by James for a 3-point play. While it was still early in the game, it set the tone for what was to come.

The second moment was with Lorenzo Brown inbounding the ball a little over a minute into the second quarter and Maccabi down 23-24. Alpha Diallo (7 points, 3 rebounds and 1 steal) fell for Baldwin’s fake run to the right, with Maccabi’s #5 instead going along that same baseline, receiving the centimeter perfect pass from Lorenzo Brown in the air for an alley-oop, giving Maccabi the lead which they then never relinquished.

Lorenzo Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman.

“They came out with that look in their eyes that they wanted to beat us really bad in game 3,” Lorenzo Brown said after the game. “Today was that day that we had to lock in and get the job done.”

“We didn’t get past them almost not even once, we didn’t pressure them, it could’ve been different and I didn’t need to change that much,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said of the difference between the gameplan in game 3 versus game 4. “Slowly, as the series develops, we know how we want to attack, what we want to do. It will of course be more difficult in their arena with the feeling that it will be more crowded, smaller. But we set the direction of the game, we did it a little simpler defensively and offensively, and their dominance derived from the way that we played.

“Regarding Lorenzo, also he, like I said about the other players, was a little quiet. I think that over the course of a series lots of different things happen. His fouls at the beginning of game 3 made him a little frustrated because of all the whistles and I think that sometimes you can say that he takes it a little personally and I liked that Lorenzo started very aggressively. It’s not always like that, but that’s how you need to play, especially against an aggressive team like Monaco. I’m proud of him as I am of the other players.”

Jake Cohen and John Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The Bad: The first quarter
Specifically, the first 4 and half minutes. The game started off with the teams trading baskets, with Monaco leading 6-5 after a little over 3 minutes. What followed was 2 points to James, free throws to John Brown and then 3-pointer to Motiejunas, which gave the visitors a 13-5 lead. During that period, Jarell Martin (4 points and 5 rebounds) missed a 3-pointer and committed his second foul, while Poythress also missed a field goal, which made it look like the fans were going to be in for another long night.

“You can see the way that we came to the game, so ready, they started well and we were behind,” Katash said. “But we succeeded in getting into the rhythm, a lot of players came onto the court. It’s true to get to game 5 after a result like this, on its face from experience it’s not as good. But from day one, like we spoke about and we’ve had experiences that weren’t as good, we’ve been down 20, up 20 and we’ve been through all different things. The important thing is to play the right way and not to play the result.”

Mike James – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The Ugly: Profanities
This might not be a popular opinion, but I do not like the cursing that we hear at basketball games (it’s something that I expect at football games, but it’s not something that needs to be brought into the arena for such a family-friendly game).

The fans continued to curse at James, with their inventive “F*** you James” chant. Not only that, but they were also quick to curse at Juan Carlos Garcia, who was at the center of many dubious decisions against Maccabi in their game 2 loss in Monaco.

Darrun Hilliard – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman.

“Hopefully we can get a good crew of referees who could control the game and officiate the game in a good manner and we will come to win and play as hard as you can,” Hilliard said after the game.

We won’t have the same volume of curses against Mike James in Monaco next week and we can hope that the referees get it mostly right in game 5, because it would be a shame if the fans felt that the series was decided by the referees rather than the players. Whatever the case, let’s hope that there’s a general level of respect for the referees and for the game.

Jordan Loyd – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Up Next: Game 5 in Monaco
The two greatest words in European basketball – Game Five! Maccabi plays against Hapoel Jerusalem in Israeli league action in the capital on Sunday night (21:00 IDT / 14:00 EDT), but all the focus is going to be on game 5 in Monaco on Wednesday night (21:00 IDT / 14:00 EDT). The winner will earn a spot in the final four, while the loser will be left thinking about what could have been.

“Job not done,” Hilliard said. “We got a lot of basketball before we go to Monaco we have a big game in Jerusalem. We got to prepare for that and keep the momentum going.”

“The important thing is to play the right way and not to play the result,” Katash said. “It will be best to start game 5 not from the end result of game 4. We need to forget that, enjoy that, we need to be proud of what we did and like after game 1, when they were overaggressive, that’s what we’re expecting in game 5 and we need to be prepared for it.”

“Obviously, we want it badly – we put a lot into it,” DiBartolomeo said. “One more win to make the final four.”

Maccabi Tel Aviv – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

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