One of many greatest clichés in basketball is that offense wins video games however protection wins titles. Nonetheless, that hasn’t all the time been the case within the Turkish Airways EuroLeague. Certainly, within the final 5 Remaining Fours, the highest-scoring workforce within the occasion received the title 4 instances. FC Barcelona needs to show one thing totally different: that an improved protection results in higher outcomes.
Protection, and the way it improved from one 12 months to the subsequent, allowed Barcelona to complete the common season in first place and attain the membership’s first Remaining 4 since 2014.
Barca has allowed the fewest factors per sport, 72.8, of any EuroLeague protection this season. It additionally holds opponents to the fewest factors per possession (0.911), with Anadolu Efes Istanbul rating second (0.954)
Its focus and depth have allowed Barca to steer a number of defensive classes by extensive margins. Barca holds opponents to each the bottom area purpose (43.7%) and adjusted area purpose (50.0%) accuracies. By comparability, FC Bayern Munich is the next-best workforce in each classes, at 46.1% and 53.0%, respectively, which reveals how robust Barca’s protection has been all season lengthy.
Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius’s workforce quit a degree or extra on simply 41.3% of their defensive possessions, and the outcomes are clear. Barcelona is 2-6 on this EuroLeague season when permitting 80 factors or extra, and 10-1 when holding rivals to lower than 70 factors.
Barcelona leads the EuroLeague in a few key defensive classes, is the perfect of all Remaining 4 squads in some others, and has proven nice progress from final season to this one.
Final season, Barca let opponents get 16.9 assists and 32.7 rebounds whereas hitting 52.3% of their photographs contained in the arc and 36.5% from three-point vary, solely adequate to rank seventh in points-against protection (78.3 ppg. allowed) within the common season when the competitors was stopped.
Barca has improved all of these numbers within the 2020-21 marketing campaign, holding rivals to fifteen.8 assists and 30.7 rebounds whereas forcing them to make simply 49.5% of their photographs contained in the arc and 34.1% from three-point vary. Merely put, all these numbers are higher than final season, which led to Barca having the top-ranked points-against protection (73.2), in addition to the perfect two- and three-point protection, percentage-wise.
Going to Cologne, Barca leads all Remaining 4 groups in assists and rebounds allowed, in addition to in turnovers pressured (13.8). Protection was huge for Barca within the playoffs, when it gave up simply 70.2 factors per sport and forcing Zenit St Petersburg into 31.4% three-point capturing. Each have been manner underneath Zenit’s common season numbers (78.5 ppg., 38.2% 3FG).
One other signal of its enchancment is that Barca is limiting three-point manufacturing by its opponents. Final season, Barca’s protection let groups launch 27.4 three-point photographs and make 10.0 of them, the second- and third-highest averages allowed, respectively, amongst all EuroLeague groups. This season, Barca permits simply 22.1 three-point photographs taken and seven.5 made, the third-lowest averages in each classes.
After all, basketball is greater than protection. Expertise and expertise on offense are equally necessary, and Barca has loads of each, with eight gamers returning to the Remaining 4 and two former champs in Nick Calathes and Cory Higgins. After all, Coach Jasikevicius was one of the vital profitable EuroLeague gamers ever, successful 4 titles with Barcelona, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos Athens.
With so many offensive-gifted gamers throughout, if Barcelona performs good protection, then offense ought to come to the workforce virtually naturally.