Stop Real’s 3-pt shots, Zizic’s inside play & running the floor: What Maccabi Tel Aviv need to do in game 2

Apr 21, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid get ready for game two of their Euroleague quarterfinal series on Friday (21:45 Israel time) back at the Wiznick Center in Spain. Yellow & Blue will look to even up the best of five series before heading back to Israel for game three on Tuesday and if necessary game four on Thursday immediately after Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

There were three glaring areas of concern that Maccabi will need to address in order to get back into this series after Real dictated play for the most part and were able to take advantage of weak points that were exposed by the hosts.

Fabien Causeur – Photo Credit: Real Madrid Basket

1) Interim head coach Avi Even will need to find some solutions to the issues his team faced against Pablo Laso’s squad as Real Madrid were able to shoot lights out from deep going 16/29 against Maccabi’s poor perimeter defense. This has been a major issue throughout the season with the Yellow & Blue being unable to stop some of Europe’s most lethal shooters from beyond the arc and that flaw was exposed once again as Fabien Causeur went 4/6, Rudy Fernandez checked in going 4/8 and Guerschon Yabusele went 3/3.

Thomas Heurtel – Photo Credit: Real Madrid

Maccabi were unable to make the switches in time as well as not being able to react when screens were set for the Real players to lineup from long distance. Game two may see the return to Thomas Heurtel to the Madrid lineup and he will be a bundle of problems to handle. He had been able to carve up the Yellow & Blue defense over the two regular season matchups to the tune of 15 points in Madrid and 11 points in Tel Aviv going 5/11 from deep over the course of the two games.

Walter Tavares and Ante Zizic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

2) Another issue that Even will need to sort out is Ante Zizic’s inside play after scoring only 2 points in 13 minutes on the court where he seemed to be totally ineffective. That was also true back in Israel in March when the two teams tipped off and the Croatian scored 3 points in 16 minutes, but in December in Madrid, Zizic was able to make an impact with 10 points in 23 minutes. Both of the regular season games were decided by a total of 3-points and while Maccabi won 75-74 at home they fell 72-70 on the road.

Walter Tavares – Photo Credit: Real Madrid Basket

Obviously, Walter Tavares will cause problems for any player with his height and size as he forces the opposition to change their shot and also can block numerous attempts that a normal sized big man can’t get too. Vincent Poirier, Real’s second center is someone that Zizic should be able to handle but then again Avi Even seemed to just give up on the idea of having Zizic play midway through the game as he spent the majority of the matchup on the bench.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv/Elad Goldstein

3) Finally, Maccabi need to get back to playing the run and gun style of basketball that made them successful over the past couple of months and the basketball that Avi Even implemented when he took over the reins from Ioannis Sfairopoulos. Of course, this is the playoffs and defenses are tighter and much more difficult to break down, but the way the Yellow & Blue played in game one won’t be good enough for them to win this series.

We have seen defenses clamp down all over the Euroleague as the postseason began and Even will need to find way where his squad can get the rebound and make that first outlet pass that will allow them to score some easy baskets. It sounds simple, but it’s really not. Not now when there is a ticket to the Final Four on the line.

Derrick Williams – Photo Credit: Euroleague

If Maccabi can find solutions to the issues above they can get back into this series and make sure they retain to Israel with a split in the first two games. If they can’t, their job will be that much harder with the prospect of having to win there games in a row too find their way to Belgrade in mid-May.

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