Playoff Semi-finals vs the MVP
The countdown is on, after two days off from training, the Bayern Basketball team has started preparing for the eagerly awaited semifinal series against Telekom Baskets from Bonn. Starting on Saturday, the Munich team will face the second-place team first twice away from home, giving them the home advantage over the third-place FCBB in the best-of-five series. Game three will be played on Saturday, June 4, at the Audi Dome.
A close series is to be expected, not least in view of Bonn's home advantage in the Telekom Dome, which is already sold out with 6,000 fans. As a first appetizer, here is a sporting analysis of the Rhinelanders, whose go-to-guy "PJC" has been playing big again lately.
PJC: A giant at 5'9
36 points per game, almost five assists and more than 24 shot attempts - Parker Jackson-Cartwright's playoff performance in the quarterfinals against Hamburg (3-0) was more than impressive and MVP-like. The most valuable player of the 2021/22 BBL season showed himself in outstanding form after several weeks away and scored in an extremely varied manner. A solid 47 percent from two-point range and an excellent 53 percent from distance secured the clear quarterfinal victory for the Telekom Baskets.
Despite being only 5ft9, Jackson-Cartwright moves into the zone with great success and makes the most of difficult finishes amonst the trees. The drive with his strong right hand is the 26-year-old American's speciality, where he converts at a rate of almost 70 percent.
From experience, Bonn's coach Tuomas Iisalo relies on a high volume for his top creative players. This season, and especially in the playoffs, point guard Jackson-Cartwright holds the keys of the offense firmly in his hands: of 240 half-court attacks, more than 120 ended with a pick-'n'-roll, isolation or a bucket from PJC.
In Bayern's 100-81 home win in January, the regular season MVP put up 30 points but needed a whopping 23 shot attempts to do so. Still, the Bavarians will need to effectively limit Bonn's creative player in the playoff semifinal series, and they can certainly do that with defensive performances comparable to those in recent weeks.
Will the FCBB's defensive bulwark hold?
Bayern has allowed fewer than 71 points to opponents' offenses in the last five weeks, including the EuroLeague playoff series against top favorite Barcelona. Head coach Andrea Trinchieri's team is allowing just 88 points per 100 attacks in its half-court defense, once again one of the best defenses in Europe.
Nick Weiler-Babb, Othello Hunter & Co. are particularly good at defending jump shots: Only 30 percent of all opponent's three-point attempts have found their target in the last 13 games. The Munich team has made great strides in the area of "rim protection", i.e. defending finishes near the basket. Lay-ups, power moves and floaters are a great skill of Jackson-Cartwright and he will present the Bavarians with a challenge. Easy finishes in the zone and free threes off the dribble have to be prevented.
Bonn's rebound strength
The Telekom Baskets secured 46 offensive rebounds in the three quarterfinal games against the Hamburg Towers. In the series, the Bonn team took 21 more shots from the court and seven more from the free-throw line than their opponent. Michael Kessens, Leon Kratzer & Co. like to work physically on the offensive boards, and they will also work aggressively for additional shooting opportunities against the FCBB.
Bayern meanwhile, has enough size and athleticism at all positions to effectively get in the way of the Bonners. The Niners Chemnitz totaled 30 offensive rebounds in the playoff series (compared to Bayern's 79 defensive rebounds) - Munich's fighting spirit will be key in this series as well: A good team defense against Jackson-Cartwright & Co, discipline in the half-court defense and assertiveness on the boards: these are the defensive keys to the semifinal series against the Baskets.
BBL SEMIFINALS (best-of-five):
Game 1, Saturday, May 28, 20:30.: Bonn - FCBB
Game 2, Monday, May 30, 20:30.: Bonn - FCBB
Game 3, Saturday, June 4, 18:00.: FCBB - Bonn
Game 4*, Monday, June 6, 18:00.: FCBB - Bonn
Game 5*, Wednesday, June 8, 20:30.: Bonn - FCBB
*= if necessary