Real Madrid returned to winning ways last time out but found themselves back on the losing end as they narrowly fell to Panathinaikos in Athens, Greece 82-80.
For NBA draft prospect Luka Dončić, it was a tough affair: 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting, 3-of-9 from three, 6-of-8 from the free throw line, six rebounds, three assists, eight turnovers, a block and a PIR rating of 14 in 31 minutes.
It was a tough game for Dončić offensively. Yes, he scored 19 points but only shot 5-of-14 from the field and 3-of-9 from three — the six free throws helped boost the point total here.
It’s worth immediately pointing out that Dončić was targeted from the get-go: the Panathinaikos defense pounced on him from the start, showing off of the pick-and-rolls and extending the defensive pressure, and it leads to a turnover and score on this occasion:
This was a common theme for Dončić, and it forced him to get rid of the ball and defer to others:
Off of the show, Dončić this time tries to the decisive pass inside but has it intercepted and it leads to a turnover:
In general, Dončić settled quite a bit in this game and took the easy way out, by which I mean he tried to go one-on-one a lot instead of setting up/deferring when nothing was on for him.
He took a whopping nine three-pointers, making just three of them. Again, some of these just weren’t great looks:
With 12/13 seconds left on the shotclock, there’s just a better shot to be had here.
Off of a pick-and-roll, Dončić gets the switch but when the defender sticks with him, a different approach should be taken than settling for a contested three:
Far too often did Dončić try to do too much on his own.
On this possession, just far too much ball-handling by Dončić — the ball should’ve left his hands a long time ago on this possession. Instead, it results in a turnover:
Just a terrible possession.
A lot of credit has to go to the Panathinaikos defense: they made things very difficult for Madrid and Dončić, forcing them into a number of late clock shots, including this three-pointer from Dončić on one leg, which he actually made:
That’s a big-time shot at a hugely important time of the game, but it sure wasn’t a high-quality shot.
There were a few positives…
I liked this little shake to shed the defender off-ball to free up a little more space for a (still contested) three-pointer:
Again, nice movement off of the ball keeps the defender guessing.
There was also a nice possession where Dončić comes up with a block and then goes coast-to-coast and finishes with the runner:
Really liked how Dončić hesitates slightly, allowing the defender to sail on by, and reverting to a running floater for the shot selection — eliminates the possibility of being blocked/contested at the rim by a help defender (and there was definitely a second defender waiting near the rim).
It was a tough game in this aspect too for Dončić — just three assists and eight turnovers (though, not all eight of those came in facilitation scenarios).
His decision-making once shown the defensive pressure by Panathinaikos wasn’t always great but there were some good moments that came out of it.
Here for instance, Dončić fires a lovely pass down the pipe for Edy Tavares for the score:
Alas, that was really the only main, concrete thing to come out of the defensive pressure forcing Dončić to looks elsewhere. Sure, there was an attempt or two but nothing that went in:
Dončić was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball in this one, just not something you normally see him do:
Just caught in the wrong spots:
It just seemed no matter what he tried, it just didn’t work out, as this entry-pass sails out-of-bounds:
It does take two to tango on plays like this but kind of summed up Dončić’s day, really. There were a few possessions where Dončić moved the ball well as a facilitator and looked for others but, as we’ve touched on already, he didn’t make the best decisions in this game…
Honestly, there was literally nothing noteworthy to come out of this game defensively for Dončić. He wasn’t really asked to do much defensively one-on-one or otherwise.
There was this one play where his presence forces a penetrator to have to pass the ball back out, but it’s more so because the help defense comes in the form of Tavares:
Even this is a reach… It was strange how little was asked of Dončić defensively. Panathinaikos attacked a lot through their guards, like Nick Calathes
In closing @ Panathinaikos…
Just a tough game in all aspects really… Probably Dončić’s worst game of the season so far, and I say that because when he struggled shooting from the field in other games he at least impacted the game majorly in other ways, mostly with his playmaking but that didn’t really shine through here.
Dončić was seemingly a little out of sorts, didn’t look like himself and made uncharacteristic mistakes. His shot selection wasn’t great and he could’ve done more to get his teammates involved. But a lot of credit to Panathinaikos for that, they made sure — right from the off — that things were not easy for Dončić and they were successful in setting that tone.
Dončić tried a little too hard at times and made some errors in the fourth as Madrid kind of capitulated and let a game slip by that they should’ve won.