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One Day, One Play: Micov from downtown and Milano wins in Venezia

20/03/2020
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The game in Venezia was a particularly demanding battle. Olimpia came from the Lyon game, played less than 48 hours before and in the middle of a week-long journey, with an imminent trip to Madrid. The reigning Italian league champion Reyer had never lost at home until that game. Before the last offensive possession, in a tight battle, Milan was down by two points.

The lineup on the court is interesting: with Sergio Rodriguez at the point, there are Michael Roll, Vlado Micov, Jeff Brooks and Luis Scola acting as the center, so basically all the five players are able to make an outside shot and stretch the floor. After Scola’s High screen, Venezia immediately chooses to switch, and to accept that a small player is going to guard Scola while Mitchell Watt, the center, an athletic player who is capable to defend on a guard, will stay on Rodriguez. Watt positions himself to prevent Rodriguez from moving to the right and also from passing the ball to Micov who moved over that area of ​​the court. Rodriguez’s skill lies in his ability to “turn the corner” and thus overcome Watt and drive through the lane. Except that the lane is clogged: there are three Venezia players inside and Jeremy Chappell is nearby. With a dribble and a reverse, Rodriguez passes out to Michael Roll while Brooks moves away from the lane to take Austin Daye with him. But 13 seconds are remaining and Olimpia has failed to create an advantage and the Venezia’s defense remains well positioned.

Rodriguez moves as far from the basket as possible. The intent is to play isolation against Watt. He attacks him by going to the left, towards the center of the lane where there is more space. There, however, Julyan Stone and Austin Daye are awaiting him. In addition, Watt is a great shot-blocker. Rodriguez doesn’t go shooting, stops and draws the entire Reyer’s defense, including Michael Bramos, the man in charge of guarding Vlado Micov. The pass angles are not exceptional, there is no one for Brooks on one side or for Scola on the other, Roll makes a cut that further clogs the middle, but at least takes Chappell away. The key to the play though is Bramos. Rodriguez’s strong penetration convinced Bramos to leave Micov: Reyer’s forward sees Rodriguez as the only possible threat at that point and moves inside to disturb him. But Micov is a master at moving without the ball, he immediately identifies the right opportunity. Rodriguez is an instinctive and intelligent passer: even under pressure he recognizes the situation. So comes the lethal pass to Micov, from inside to the outside. Micov is already in the right position to shoot and Chappell and Bramos are late to closeout. Three-pointer is the air. Nothing but net. Milano wins.