It was a business-like performance by Olympiacos against Anadolu Efes in Game 1 according to Emmet Ryan, with Nikola Milutinov picking a good night to impress
This really didn’t feel like a playoff game for the bulk of the 40 minutes and the credit for that, not blame, should go to Olympiacos who never really let Efes test them in the SEF.
A touch of pace
This really felt like a track meet early on. Efes started with Jayson Granger, Brandon Paul, Cedi Osman and his fantastic hair, Derrick Brown, and Bryant Dunston. This was a line-up built to run and run they most certainly did. That Efes would look to come out fast was somewhat expected. Given the roster they have, it looked an obvious strength to play to early. The surprise was that the home side looked quite content to face them on those terms and do battle.
The pre-game video showed Ioannis Sfairopoulos telling his team that he wanted them to run and, against certain opponents, Oly certainly should try to play that game but Efes didn’t look the right side for that all out speed game. Neither team was exactly smooth during the opening minutes with fast play giving way to just rushed basketball. When Oly dialled it down just a tiny bit, keeping it fast but not unmanageable, they never really looked back. A slight shift down was enough for them to find their rhythm and Efes never really looked capable of putting the hammer down that hard again.
Hello Mr Buford
RC Buford of the San Antonio Spurs was in the house for this one and he picked a good night to catch Nikola Milutinov, whose rights the Spurs hold. The big Serb is not one for those who want aesthetically pleasing basketball. Words like functional and industrious really suit his game but when he is on, those assets prove quite effective. With Khem Birch not at 100 per cent, Milutinov knew there was going to be more responsibility on his shoulders and he made the most of his opportunity. This was a neat little night for the big guy with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in a rare game where he got proper starter minutes.
Just plain business-like
This was never really an explosive display by Olympiacos but it never needed to be. All the right moves were there and Efes didn’t look in position to counter. That easing of the pace was the first step. Then came the bench contribution where Oly really looked well ahead of the visitors through the competitive parts of this game. Once the Reds brought in their reserves, Efes didn’t seem to have the guys necessary to counter or even put real pressure on.
There was a slight stutter at the top of the fourth quarter but, that aside, this just felt so rudimentary regular season style. In the third Vassilis Spanoulis scored a three that demonstrated the lack of urgency on the part of Efes. Oly just passed the ball around the perimeter looking for an open man and, sure enough, there was Billy wide open. Bucket made, business as usual.
A lot of this is the simple stuff which Olympiacos do so well. Giorgios Printezis had a forgettable night from the field yet still walked off the floor with a double-double. It’s the basics, like after an offensive board that he had to fight for in the third he knew that Efes were going to have trouble not fouling him so he just waited and drew the call. Simple, intelligent, and effective. Game 1 is in the books, Efes need to be a lot livelier on Friday.