After winning last time out against Efes, a major tilt between EuroLeague heavyweights Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow took place in Moscow on February 1st, with CSKA — behind a 33-11 first quarter — winning out in the end 93-87 as Madrid’s fourth quarter comeback ultimately fell short.
For top NBA draft prospect Luka Doncic, it was one of his strongest games since the early stages of the EuroLeague season as he scored 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field, shot 2-of-5 from three, 5-of-9 from the line, five rebounds, five assists, three steals, four turnovers and a game-high PIR of 23 in 30 minutes off of the bench.
Obviously a strong outing in this department with those 21 points and Doncic scored his 21 points in a variety of ways, as you might expect.
After a slow start to the game, Doncic finally got on the board as he drives from the three-point line all the way to the rim for the basket:
I liked the very brief fake left before the drive going to his right, think it really helped make this play possible…
We’ll stick to Doncic going to the rim.
Coming off of the screen/flash at the top of the key (hard to tell, given the feed…), Doncic gets a good head of steam heading toward the rim before rising (as the defender continues to back-pedal) and displaying some lovely hang-time as he hits the one-handed runner off of the glass and home:
After Madrid come up with the block on the defensive end, Doncic grabs the ball and sets off in transition, using the euro-step to finish off the offensive move as he scores at the rim:
Beautiful euro-step to beat the defense…
In the fourth quarter, Doncic gets downhill after a screen and gets to rim where he unleashes some of that sneaky athleticism as he dunks the ball and draws the foul:
Though, Doncic would miss the free throw (missing four of them on the night, which is pretty rare for him), it provides a nice segue for free throws that Doncic drew whilst getting to the rim/on the drive.
Off of the dribble, Doncic drives inside, again displays some nice hang-time as he draws the foul at the rim from Will Clyburn, resulting in two free throws:
This clip is also a great example of Doncic struggling somewhat to get by with his pace (doesn’t have that elite burst/quickness) but he has a good frame and is able to fend off the challenge as he drives.
In transition again we see a bit of the flair that Doncic brings as he firstly grabs the rebound, goes behind his back with the ball, gets to the paint and draws the foul and free throws:
Speaking of other ways of scoring in the paint, Doncic operated in the post on a couple of occasions, managing to score on this possession as he backs down — single coverage — spins and beautiful footwork puts Doncic in a great position to score and he does so:
I love how Doncic positioned himself as he spun. Watch it again, and look at his left heel/foot, how it’s positioned when he spins and how it kind of helps seal off the on-ball defender.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Doncic at the rim/on the drive…
In the first quarter, Doncic waves off/rejects the screen from Edy Tavares, tries to get in on his own, is unable to do so and settles for a tough, contested jumpshot which misses:
In this next clip, Doncic is able to get inside this time after a Trey Thompkins screen but takes a difficult, contested shot (off-balance somewhat, unnaturally positioned) at the rim and misses:
After coming up with the steal from a loose dribble, Doncic heads the other way in transition. He gets to the free throw line area, rises, has the ball stripped/deflected on the way up and ends up being clattered into as he tries to recover the ball, leading to a sore landing and a turnover that leads to a CSKA basket:
Again off of the dribble, Doncic is able to get inside and a look at the rim but his floater is short on this occasion:
In the post, Doncic looks to pass out of the post but his pass is a little too long and it results in a turnover:
A bit of a more general play, but Doncic commits the very rare travel turnover in the third quarter:
Finishing off the offensive portion of this breakdown with the three-point shooting for a change as Doncic shot 2-of-5 from three.
Really, this is 2-of-4 from three, as one of those attempts was a half-court heave at the end of the first quarter — it obviously counts, but you know…
In the third quarter, Doncic gets inside, is unable to progress, passes out of the paint, receives the ball again, fakes the three to free up space and then hits the open three:
Later in the quarter, Doncic successfully connects on the catch-and-shoot three, set-up by Jaycee Carroll in transition:
As for his misses, this first one involved Doncic attempting to connect from deep but the shot is off-line:
And, finally, Doncic and Rudy Fernandez work a nice two-man game and it eventually ends with Doncic attempting a three-pointer which misses:
Five assists for Doncic in this one, let’s go through some…
Even though Doncic had issues with his own offense in the first quarter, he was able to link up with Edy Tavares, as the CSKA shows an extra body to Doncic off of the pick-and-roll, leaving Edy more open than he normally would be. Doncic finds Edy with an overhead pass for the assist and the score for Edy at the rim:
We know Doncic is an unselfish player, and he continues to demonstrate that as he turns down a shot he could’ve taken himself to find Jeffrey Taylor, who makes the extra pass to Fabien Causeur for a three-pointer:
In the second quarter, Doncic finds the cutting Jonas Maciulis for another assist at the rim (hey, guess what CSKA Moscow allowed a lot of in this game):
That’s a really nice play and good awareness from Doncic to see the play develop and then execute the play.
One of Doncic’s more impressive plays of the night was this near full-court outlet pass to Anthony Randolph, who scores the quick-break:
More link-up wit Edy, this time in the pick-and-roll the lob is set up and as Edy goes to catch he’s fouled, drawing free throws:
Doncic set up a number of three-point opportunities for his teammates, this one to Trey Thompkins coming late in the game as Doncic collapses the defense after a screen before finding Thompkins for three:
A very simple play, a pass to Rudy Fernandez in the corner for a three-pointer but Rudy is unable to connect:
Nice snap pass to the fair…
And, finally, Doncic probes in the second quarter before setting up Anthony Randolph in the corner for a the long two-point attempt but Randolph can’t convert:
Some pretty good defensive activity in this game from Doncic — definitely more good than bad.
Doncic came up with three steals in this game, and the zone defense of Real Madrid certainly helped with one of these.
Here, Doncic is on-hand to intercept the pass to the wing and comes up with the steal:
Sergio Rodriguez also attempting a no-look pass will also contribute in leading to a turnover…
In a wild sequence Doncic, again, is in the right place at the right time and is able to intercept this pass on the baseline and come up with another steal. He then tries to set up a lob for Anthony Randolph which goes horribly wrong, then tries to stick home the shot at the rim after the pass from Randolph and misses:
We saw this in an earlier clip, but Doncic is able to pick up the loose ball and set off the other way but ended up leading to a turnover:
Here, Doncic allows Othello Hunter to get in front of him but Doncic is able to break up the attempted lob to him, knocking the ball out of his hands and Madrid come up with the ball:
Here, Doncic uses his length to contest the three-pointer which is off-line:
Some more good defensive activity from Doncic as works to get back in front of his man after the screen and using his length to contest and finish the defensive play as the shot misses:
Moving onto some of the defensive foibles from Doncic in this game…we’ll start by blending both good and bad.
Here, Doncic displays some decent defensive activity to stay in front of his man, then switches onto the big underneath the basket but doesn’t complete the defensive play — you’d like to see Doncic contest that shot:
Doncic gets a taste of his own medicine in the post as he’s undone by a spin move by Othello Hunter, which leads to a basket and a foul as Doncic fouls on the way:
And finally, Doncic strayed a little too far from his man and was a little late to close-out and contest this three-point attempt by Nikita Kurbanov, who hits the three in the corner:
Possibly a by-product of the Madrid zone defense…
In closing @ CSKA…
Obviously a strong game for Doncic. He was inserted into the game when Madrid were already up against it (down 15-5 which became 17-5 within the first few seconds he was on the court). This has happened once or twice already this season (Madrid chasing a game in the first quarter before bringing in Doncic), and going forward, Doncic would be inserted into the starting lineup.
For this game, he struggled to get going in the first quarter but eventually got into the swing of things, finding success in getting to the rim/into the paint for scoring opportunities. 5-of-9 from the line is disappointing but it’s about the only thing you can really fault Doncic in this game.
In terms of facilitation, bang on as always from Doncic — you know what you’re getting at this stage. Would’ve liked to have seen a bit more pick-and-roll with Doncic as the ball-handler but alas…
Defensively, a good game from Doncic. A couples of little things that I’m nitpicking at but in general he was solid against what is arguably the best team in Europe (favourites in their upcoming Final Four game against Madrid in Moscow as I write this, that game is on the 18th of May).
That game will have to wait until another time but for now, a strong game by Doncic against one of Europe’s elite.