Where & When:
Game 1. BCMO, Khimki, Russia. 7:30 PM (7:30 MSK), May 4
Game 2. BCMO, Khimki, Russia. 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK), May 6
Game 3. Arena.Sever, Krasnoyarsk, Russia. 12:00 PM (4:00 MSK), May 9
Game 4. Arena.Sever, Krasnoyarsk, Russia. May 11 (if necessary)
Game 5. BCMO, Khimki, Russia. May 14 (if necessary)
Khimki: 3rd place (19-5)
Enisey: 6th place (13-11)
Shved – Rowland – Zaitcev – Brown – Pullen – Vyaltsev
Taylor – Hilliard – Zavoruev – Vzdykhalkin – Lukashov – Pichkurov
Khimki’s opponents have been trying to solve Alexey Shved all season long. Enisey, for one, never found an answer during two regular-season meetings. Shved averaged 42 points per game on 48% shooting against Krasnoyarsk.
E.J. Rowland is also hot entering the playoffs, putting up 19 points (8-11 shooting), while dishing out five assists in the recent win over Enisey.
Meanwhile, several role players give the backcourt depth. Viacheslav Zaitcev and Egor Vyaltsev are factors on defense, Jacob Pullen can put up points in a hurry and Markel Brown is dangerous driving the lane and finishing fast breaks.
Krasnoyarsk, on the other hand, is very dependent on Tony Taylor. The explosive American is in his second season with the team and has become more multi-dimensional this year. Taylor can hurt you in the lane and with his jumper, while averaging 4.6 assists per game. He’s also a capable defender. Elsewhere, Anthony Hilliard thrives in a fast-paced game, especially when finishing fast breaks. Vasily Zavoruev can distribute the ball and make big plays in crunch time, while Pichkurov and Vzdykhalkin are a threat from outside. Both can light up the perimeter when hot.
Todorovic – Monia – Hummel – Boungou-Colo – Sokolov – Ilnitsky – Likhodei
Elegar – Braimoh – Trushkin – Kanygin – Koshcheev – Pavlov
The frontcourt has been Khimki’s biggest vulnerability this season and the team will be very reliant on Marko Todorovic in the quarterfinals. Khimki simply doesn’t have many other options against Enisey. Monia and Hummel prefer playing away from the basket. Though terrific shooters, they don’t spend much time inside. Sokolov is also unlikely to be have much of an impact, posting a team-worse +/- of -3 in the recent game against Enisey. It’s not surprising, considering how he struggled to contain Elegar, couldn’t keep up with Braimoh and even had trouble against Igor Kanygin.
The Siberians, on the other hand, will do everything possible to involve the frontcourt. Enisey doesn’t have the most versatile big men, but they do one thing very well: rebound. Frank Elegar led the League with nine boards per game, including eight double-doubles. Braimoh is also a big contributor. He’s progressed throughout the season, establishing himself as one of the top 6th men in the League. Vladislav Trushkin, meanwhile, could be Enisey’s secret weapon. He’s effective in defending pick-and-rolls, able to keep up with guards and hold his own against the big men in the paint. Trushkin’s return improves Enisey’s defense significantly and he’s also a capable scorer. Khimki will have a much tougher time “hiding” Shved, Rowland and Pullen on defense.
From a psychological standpoint, Khimki can’t look ahead to a potential semifinal match-up with Zenit. But the win over Enisey by 40 points in the final game of the regular season makes it more difficult. Dusko Ivanovic has a tough task. He needs to make sure his men are focused on the job at hand, because Enisey won’t go down quietly. It’s not an easy job, but should be an excellent test of his coaching ability.
Oleg Okulov has shown his talent both in motivating his men and employing cunning strategy. Several Enisey opponents have fallen victims to his unorthodox maneuvers. He’ll have some surprises ready for Khimki as well. The final game of the regular season provided food for thought. Khimki was forced to show its hand, whereas Krasnoyarsk gave away very little, which could be a nice advantage in this series.
These two teams take different approaches. Dusko Ivanovic goes with his five best players in the starting lineup (Todorovic – Monia (Hummel) – Boungou-Colo – Shved – Rowland). The reserves, meanwhile, typically focus on defense. For example, in the game in Krasnoyarsk, Dusko Ivanovic kept his starters on the floor for 12 minutes without a single substitution. He only started bringing in bench players once the lead had grown to a respectable size. The stats back up these observations. Moscow Region’s bench only scores 36.6% of the team’s points and that number often drops in close games.
The situation is a bit different for Enisey. Oleg Okulov keeps Suleiman Braimoh and Anthony Hilliard on the bench, though both could be starters. That helps the Siberians avoid much of a drop-off during substitutions. In the second half of the season, Enisey’s bench has scored nearly half the team’s points. Even the team’s 10th man, Pichkurov, can do damage, leading the team in scoring against CSKA and Lokomotiv. On offense, he’s scored in double digits four times this season. That’s as many as Vyaltsev, Sokolov, Ilnitsky and Likhodei combined.
Shved lost the scoring title to Nick Minnerath in the final weeks of the season, but he’s still one of the League’s biggest stars, capable of winning virtually any game single-handedly. He’s going to have a huge impact on this series. Shved has enjoyed a lot of success against Enisey and he’ll look to build on that in the quarterfinals. Beyond his 22.2 points per game, the Russian guard also dishes out 5.3 assists on average, making him tough to contain.
Taylor doesn’t have the same gaudy stats, averaging 13.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. But unlike Shved, he has some other impressive qualities. Taylor is a crafty defensive guard, hustles on every play and knows how to find the hot hand on offense. Taylor is very much a team-oriented player and not only dependent on his shot.
Pullen is one of Khimki’s leading reserves. But he’s been virtually invisible against Krasnoyarsk, shooting a measly 1-14 in two meetings this season. Now that the playoffs have arrived, watch for Pullen to have a bigger impact.
Many underestimate Zavoruev’s value to Enisey because he only puts up 7.9 points and 3.6 assists per game. But the numbers are deceiving. His experience, understanding of the game and perimeter shooting make him irreplaceable in Krasnoyarsk. Vasily is quick to step up in big moments, whether that means hitting a clutch ‘3’ or dishing out an assist or two. That’s what Enisey was missing in the loss to Khimki to finish the regular season.