Perimeter Attack: How Loko Defeated CSKA

CSKA's perimeter defense has been terrific this season, limiting opponents to 30% shooting from beyond the arc. With Lokomotiv-Kuban averaging nearly 40% from downtown entering Sunday's showdown, something had to give.

Anthony Randolph knocked down a '3' for Lokomotiv's first field goal of the game, but for much of the contest, the Army Men were able to contain Krasnodar's snipers, giving up 38% from beyond the arc through three quarters.

All that changed in the 4th quarter as Loko knocked down seven of its final 11 three-point attempts. CSKA had no response. Krasnodar's perimeter offense simply overwhelmed a solid performance from Nando De Colo and Milos Teodosic.

Konstantin Kucher analyzes Loko's key possessions for Breaking It Down.

It's important to point out that Lokomotiv didn't try anything fancy. Most of their shots were not very closely defended. Claver's basket with time running out on the shot clock and Delaney's contested field goal were exceptions. 

Krasnodar used the smallest openings to attack. If CSKA backed off by a couple feet, the visitors immediately took advantage. Randolph provided several excellent examples. For each of his first four 3-pointers, the Americna big man was either left unguarded on the perimeter by his defender or took advantage of a pick-and-pop to get a clean look at the basket.

That said, most of Lokomotiv's 3-pointers were set up by someone attacking the paint and kicking the ball out to the perimeter. Here is how it usually worked.

A guard would drive to the rim.

As a result, extra defenders would come over to help.

Then he would dish the ball to an open teammate on the perimeter.

Randolph used that exact combination to knock down his decisive '3' in the final minutes of the game.

Various plays involving screens also proved effective as CSKA frequently made mistakes on defense. Sometimes Krasnodar only needed one screen to get an open look.

At times, Krasnodar threatened with the pick-and-roll.

The Muscovites hurried to protect the paint.

They paid for it by leaving the perimeter exposed.

Loko's snipers were happy to take advantage.

Other times, the visitors took advantage of CSKA's confusion during defensive switches.

Lokomotiv has made the 3-point shot its most potent weapon this season. We saw just how effective it could be against CSKA. When Bartzokas's men are knocking down shots, they are almost impossible to stop. Krasnodar's snipers are always ready to attack and will take advantage of the tiniest opening. As a result, Lokomotiv has proven to be a dangerous opponent for any team, even the reigning champs.

Konstantin Kucher