Tough loss for over motivated Maccabi Tel Aviv: The Good, Bad, Ugly from the Yellow & Blue’s 83-78 loss to Monaco

May 3, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Tuesday night, AS Monaco took a commanding 2-1 lead in its EuroLeague quarterfinal series against Maccabi Tel Aviv with an 83-78 win at Yad Eliyahu. Mike James (21 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists), Jordan Loyd (15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal), Elie Okobo (12 points, 4 assists and 3 steals) and John Brown (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal) starred for the victors, while Bonzie Colson (17 points, 4 rebounds and 1 steal), Wade Baldwin IV (16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists) and Lorenzo Brown (12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal) led the way for the home team.

Here are a few of my reflections from game 1.

Bonzie Colson – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

The Good: The fat lady hasn’t sung
Monaco won this battle, but they haven’t won the war (yet). Monaco may have won last night – and stolen back home court advantage in the series – but the series isn’t over.
It is difficult to find many positives from the win. It wasn’t the strongest game from Maccabi’s star backcourt of Lorenzo Brown and Baldwin, however both still hit the scoreboard and they were both in double-digits for performance index rating, with 10 and 24 respectively.

While I’m sure Maccabi would like to turn the ball over less, last night they turned it over less often than they did last Thursday night, with 10 turnovers (to 15 assists) compared to the 17 turnovers in game 2 (to 14 assists).

Although the shooting last night was overall subpar (more on that below), as Monaco showed by turning around their fortunes from game 1 to game 2, this is something that can switch on pretty quickly. Plus Maccabi will have the fans – who were electrifying in their support last night – to help push them again.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

When asked whether his team broke down given the significance of the game, Maccabi coach Oded Katash responded, “The pressure has been around from the first EuroLeague game this season, I didn’t find that it put us under pressure, but it could have been over-motivation and it can happen to any team. We really wanted to win this game and from here we have to move forward and we have done a great job this season, so we have to play with a lot of passion and pride. We are playing against a good team and we have to try and move things to our way of playing.

“There is pressure and after you do win there is still pressure. We have to manage that and be there for our fans.”

“It’s not over yet we need to play better defensively rebound better – we will watch film and come Thursday,” Colson said. “We didn’t feel pressure, this is a game we all love. We go out there have fun and give it our all.

“The fans were great we felt their energy from the start we will need them from the start Thursday.”

John Borwn – Photo Credit: Euroleague

The Bad: Shooting
In game 1, Monaco shot 15.4% from 3 (4/26), which was a number that killed their game and worked in favor of Maccabi’s defensive strategy, leading to a 12-point loss. Last night, Maccabi had a similar experience, although not as bad, shooting at 24% from 4 (6/25) and 69.2% (18/26) from the foul line.

Looking at Monaco’s numbers from last night stresses the point even further: the visitors shot at 28.8% from 3 (8/26) and 80.8% from the line (21/26), meaning that they earned an extra 9 points from a similar number of shots last night. Given that Maccabi ended up losing by 5 points, their shooting night is something that they want to move on from quickly as they turn their focus to tomorrow night.

“It’s a tough loss, but we have another game in two days,” Josh Nebo (3 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist) said. “I think they made more shots than us and we m issed a lot of shots. We need to make shots on Thursday and play better defense. The crowd was amazing as usual we are very thankful for their support.”

“Execution, teamwork and we hit shots,” John Brown said of the reasons for his team’s win. “Our defense and defensive rebounding was a big factor in this game.”

Of James’s improvement in this game – he had 18 points and was 50% from 2 (3/6) and 3 (3/6) at halftime, whereas he had 26 points on 8/24 from the field across the first two games – John Brown said: “We had nothing to do with that, that was just Mike taking initiative on his own. He hit those shots and other guys got going so that just gave us what we needed.”

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: Euroleague

The Ugly: Over-motivation
Katash said that his side was perhaps over-motivated, which may be the reason for some of the uglier moments in the game: Roman Sorkin (3 points) making a complete mess of a dunk in the first quarter to hit the rim and see the ball rebounded and taken up the other end by Monaco; Martin being called for a travel when later in the first quarter when he was struggling to get rid of the ball without being given much support from his teammates; a Lorenzo Brown missed layup early in the last quarter; Baldwin doing the hard work to block a John Brown shot attempt, only to see Donatas Motiejunas (9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal) grab the offensive rebound and get an easy 2 points; Lorenzo Brown inexplicitly turning over the ball with 41 seconds left.

Again, there’s lots of room for improvement, but there were too many “oh no” moments in last night’s game which caused groans from the crowd, something that Maccabi will need to eliminate from their game if they are to force the series to go to a deciding 5th game in Monaco next week.

“We have to lift our heads and use what we have done this whole season to stay together and work together to get out of this slump,” Katash said after the game. “We are all disappointed that we couldn’t win for the fans and I can’t remember a time that we saw them like this and how enthusiastic they were.”

Up Next: Game 4 in Tel Aviv
The teams now have a chance to recuperate today before game 4 tomorrow night (21:05 IDT / 14:05 EDT). Maccabi will be looking to regroup and save the series, while Monaco will be looking to close out the series and punch their way through the final four in Kaunas later this month. Both teams will be looking to be locked and focused to get the W.

“The mental war continues and we have to quickly forget this win as Maccabi will come back very strong on Thursday,” Monaco coach Saša Obradović said after the game.

“The fans were amazing and I hope that we will do the job on Thursday to make them happy,” Katash said. “We wanted to win this game and came in with confidence but we played an excellent team that is very athletic and strong. We will have to figure out how to win the game on Thursday.”

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