How Nizhny Found CSKA's Weak Spots

Prior to the game in Nizhny Novgorod, CSKA looked unstoppable, but the trip to the banks of the Volga River perhaps adjusted the general impression of the Army Men's play as an extremely motivated Nizhny Novgorod team found the reigning VTB United League champion's weak spots.

Konstantin Kucher analyzes Nizhny Novgorod's execution in the upset win for Breaking It Down.

Nizhny Novgorod guard Ivan Viktorov was one of the X-factors in this game. The 19-year-old Russian had received very little playing time entering Sunday's contest, which made his appearance in the 1st quarter all the more surprising. Early on, Viktorov looked nervous, turning the ball over and committing a quick foul.

But Ainars Bagatskis didn't take him out, which proved to be the right decision. Chalk up a coaching win for Bagatskis.

Against CSKA, Viktorov's anonymity helped. The seasoned Army Men loaded up on defense in the paint, often leaving the young Russian without a defender. Not surprisingly, Viktorov had lots of opportunities to attack.

The first time Ivan Viktorov had an open look at the basket, it started with Milos Teodosic leaving him to help out on Vladimir Ivlev's lane penetration.


Next, the Army Men tried to stop Ivan Strebkov with a double team, leaving Viktorov alone in the corner.

Nikita Kurbanov guarded Viktorov in the second half, but was also responsible for helping out in the paint. On almost every Nizhny possession, Kurbanov left Viktorov on the perimeter to go defend the lane.

That's how Viktorov kept scoring. Not every situation, of course, was identical. The first time, he took advantage of Kurbanov shifting to the paint. 

Viktorov cut to the lane,

received the pass

and scored, plus drew a foul.

That basket boosted Viktorov's confidence. He scored the next two points after an offensive rebound, grabbing the ball on a deflection and driving to the basket for an easy score.

Viktorov's next 3-pointer came from a similar situation. Nizhny Novgorod got the ball to center Rasid Mahalbasic on the edge of the paint, who drew three Army Men, including Kurbanov.

After that, Mahalbasic dished the ball out to an open Viktorov on the perimeter.

With the basket, Viktorov scored his 16th and final point of the game.

Viktorov's biggest impact was on offense, but he didn't slack on defense, either. Viktorov finished with two rebounds and two steals. Most importantly, the young guard did a good job of containing Kurbanov.

The Army Men tried several times to get Nikita involved on offense near the paint. But Viktorov played smart defense and didn't let Kurbanov take advantage of his size. Both times, the CSKA forward was forced to pass the ball back to a teammate.

Without taking away from Viktorov's terrific performance, a lot of the credit has to go to his teammates. They were the ones who gave him the opportunities to score. The element of surprise worked. Now other teams will pay closer attention to the talented Russian, making it more difficult for him to have an impact.

Konstantin Kucher