Zenit St Petersburg reached the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs in its first full season in the competition this season with consistent performances throughout the season. Despite the hurdles of having several games postponed early in the season due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad, once Zenit got going, it was true to its strengths on both ends of the floor.
Zenit finished the regular season in the middle of the pack in many areas, including three-point shooting (ninth, 38.2%), free-throw shooting (10th, 80.0%), assists (10th, 18.2 apg.), fastbreak points (10th), second-chance points (10th) and PIR (10th, 88.5).
Among its strengths were two-point shooting and turnovers. Zenit dipped as low as 13th early in the season, but finished third at two-point accuracy at 57.3%. It was also as low as 10th in turnovers at different periods before finishing with the fourth-fewest, 12.4.
The team struggled a bit in scoring early in the season and was ranked last early, but improved that number to 12th and finished 14th (78.5 ppg.). On the other side, Zenit started strong in defensive rebounds and dropped over the course of the season to 17th (21.9). It also had the fewest steals (5.9 spg.) and was last points scored off turnovers.
Zenit’s biggest strengths were on the defensive end and it was consistently among the leaders in several areas. It led the league in rebound allowed (29.5 rpg.) and was never lower than fourth in that category. Zenit ranked third in opponents’ three-point accuracy (36.1%) and was never lower than fifth.
After the first month of the season, it was always among the top three defenses in points allowed and finished second with 74.9. The area where the Zenit defense showed the greatest improvement was two-point shooting, where it was as low as 16th and steadily rose to as high as fifth before finishing sixth (52.8%).
The recipe for success for Zenit has been stifling defense along with a reliable attack that was never among the league’s best, but was always efficient and did more than enough to win plenty of big games. Now it pits that against FC Barcelona in what promises to be an intense series.