How Nizhny Upset Khimki

Nizhny Novgorod's win over Khimki was the biggest surprise in Week 22. Rimas Kurtinaitis's are traditionally much stronger at home than on the road, having only lost once to CSKA at the BCMO. But Nizhny did more than give their highly-regarded opponent a challenge. Ainars Bagatskis's men secured a shock win and even kept Khimki from challenging in the final minutes.

Konstantin Kucher analyzes the Nizhny Novgorod phenomenon in this week's edition of Breaking It Down.

There are several reasons for Khimki's disappointment. The first thing that jumps out is the poor field-goal percentage. Khimki shot a season-worst 12% (3-24) from the three-point line. Tyrese Rice's absence also had an impact (though Nizhny Novgorod was without Rasid Mahalbasic). Petteri Koponen was supposed to replace Rice, but he struggled, finishing with a team-worst +/- of -18.

The visitors took advantage of their superior quickness. Without Mahalbasic in the paint, more minutes went to the quicker Kirdyachkin, Antonov and Ivlev. They were noticeably more mobile than Khimki's big men, allowing them to find success rolling to the basket on pick-and-rolls and beat their defenders on drives. Kirdyachkin was the best in this component.

But the biggest impact on Nizhny Novgorod's success came from the inspired play of Dmitry Khvostov. The point guard was unstoppable in this game. He scored when necessary and consistently got the ball to his teammates.

Nizhny's offense revolved around Khvostov. Dmitry executed on fast breaks.

His court vision also came in handy. He was able to get the ball to open teammates, punishing the defense for the tiniest of mistakes.

The playmaker's biggest weapon was the pick-and-roll. The home team couldn't solve them. Khimki tried out several different approaches, but Khvostov always found a way through.

At the start of the game, Khimki's big men tried to hedge high on the perimeter in order to stop Khvostov. 

But Khvostov had no trouble passing the ball to his athletic big men, leaving Khimki's frontcourt scrambling to get back defensively.

After giving up several baskets, Augustine and the rest of the Khimki frontcourt stopped coming out as far, hanging back to defend the paint.


Switching on defense also didn't help.

Dmitry didn't try to force anything. Instead, he passed the ball to open teammates.

At a certain point, Rimas Kurtinaitis decided to stop Khvostov by double-teaming him.

Even that approach didn't work. Khvostov wasn't bothered by the increased pressure. He continued to dish out passes and score on drives to the basket.

Not surprisingly, Khvostov also knocked down the biggest shot of the game. With a minute and a half to play, Khimki still had a sliver of hope, trailing by eight.

Taking advantage of a screen from Ivlev, Khvostov escaped his defender, Egor Vyaltsev. 

Then, using some confusion between Davis and Augustine, he drove to the basket, splitting the centers.

No one was able to stop him in the end.

Ainars Bagatskis's men once again demonstrated their toughness. Despite playing with a weakened roster compared to the beginning of the season, they continue to be a serious force in the league. Dmitry Khvostov, Semyon Antonov, Vladimir Ivlev and co. will do everything they can to get Nizhny Novgorod into the playoffs. Once there, Nizhny would love to spring another upset or two.