Zenit St. Petersburg defeated Avtodor Saratov on the road in Game 2, 79-73 (24-18, 17-22, 19-16, 19-17).
Avtodor: Micah Downs (18 + 12 reb), Coty Clarke (18 + 11 + 5 ast), Justin Robinson (9 + 5 ast)
Zenit: Shayne Whittington (19 + 6 reb), Evgeny Voronov (15), Demonte Harper (12 + 6 reb), Sergey Karasev (12 + 5 reb + 5 ast)
Avtodor and Zenit were ranked 2nd and 4th, respectively, in scoring during the regular season, but you wouldn’t have known it on Sunday. The visitors shut down Saratov’s offense, limiting the home team to 39% shooting and forcing 16 turnovers.
Zenit also struggled to shoot the ball, including 9-33 from beyond the arc, but superior playmaking (+5 in assists, -7 in turnovers) gave Vasily Karasev’s men the edge they needed to secure an important Game 2 win.
St. Petersburg took control of a close contest late in the 3rd quarter. Trailing 56-50 after Avtodor forward Micah Downs drained a 3-pointer, Zenit closed the quarter on a 10-0 run and Sergey Karasev added to the damage with a triple to start the 4th.
Shayne Whittington, who finished with a game-high 19, had a 3-pointer and dunk during the stretch, and the visitors never trailed again.
Downs was the best player on Avtodor’s roster in Game 2 and he kept it close in crunch time, hitting another triple to cut the deficit to one, 71-70, with under two minutes remaining.
But the home team could not capitalize on opportunities down the stretch, as Downs and Coty Clarke missed the next three field goals and Artem Zabelin went 1-2 at the line, allowing Zenit to go up by multiple possessions and close out the win.
53 – Zenit and Avtodor combined to take 53 3-pointers, while connecting on only 15 (Zenit, 9-33; Avtodor 6-20).
17-летний Никита Михайловский стал самым молодым игроком в истории Лиги, выходившим в старте матча плей-офф.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) May 27, 2018
Avtodor head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
– As we expected from the Playoffs, the game was extremely competitive. The two teams were evenly matched with frequent lead changes. After the first game, we made adjustments and stopped Zenit’s fast break, prevented a flood of open looks under the basket or on the drive. We played well against Kuric and Karasev, who only hit very difficult shots. We controlled the rebounding and made fewer mistakes. We started strong in the 3rd quarter, but also committed a rash of stupid turnovers with our passing and miscommunication. When a game is tied at this level, those are the sorts of things that decide an outcome. Playoff experience is important when every possession is worth its weight in gold. When we led by seven, several turnovers prevented us from preserving the lead. The ability to preserve a lead is what makes a team great.
Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
– This was an important road win. We’re up 2-0 in the series. I’m completely satisfied with the defense. We stopped Avtodor’s fast breaks, even on their home court. We did a good job in pick-and-rolls stopping their big men. Our biggest problem was our defensive rebounding in the first half, when we gave up 11 rebounds, which allowed Avtodor to stay in the game. As for the offense, we were aggressive and had a lot of opportunities to score on open looks, but our percentage was terrible. However, we were able to adjust in time and play more aggressively on the drive. Avtodor has shown this season that it can play even with any opponent–CSKA, Loko, UNICS, especially at home.
Tuesday, May 29 at 7:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Images of the Game