Sunday, May 09, 2010

Barcelona Overwhelms Olympiacos for 2010 Euroleague Title

Also: Euroleague Final Four Scouting: Jan Vesely Impresses in Paris

FC Barcelona beat Olympiacos, 86-68, to finish off one of the most dominant Euroleague campaigns of all-time. Barcelona ends the '09-'10 Euroleague season with a 20-2 record and with a killer average scoring margin of +14.6. No doubt this team is one of the top Euro teams ever.

Very impressed how Barcelona made a stacked Olympiacos team look very ordinary and very frustrated on Sunday. Outplayed the Greek squad on both ends of the floor. Then again, they've been doing this all season.

Barcelona controlled this game from the start thanks in large part to its defense. Their help always seemed to be in the right place. Olympiacos could never get a steady rhythm going on the offensive end all game. Barca held Oly to 68 pts and 48% on 2pt. attempts. Olympiacos came into this game averaging 86.7 ppg and shooting 60% on 2pt. attempts.

The entire Barcelona frontline--Fran Vazquez, Terrence Morris, Boniface NDong, Erazem Lorbek and Pete Mickeal--set the tone defensively. Vazquez was a force in the 1st half, impeding Oly's scoring at the rim. Fran was credited with four blocks, but it seemed like he had at least a few more.

Barca finished the game with a total of eight blocks. Even the normally lead-footed Lorbek pitched in with two blocks and did an admirable job when checking the smaller, more agile Kleiza. Thought Barca did a terrific job keeping Kleiza off balance all game with different defenders. Mickeal (3 steals) was a menace as a help defender, as was Morris. Mickeal also was solid guarding J. Childress.

Barca's patented ball-movement was on display, propelling the Spanish powerhouse to 51% shooting. Barcelona buried 12-of-28 from long range. Barca's 18 assists was a Euroleague final record.

Juan Navarro solidified his standing as a big-game performer, leading Barca with 21 pts, 5 rebs & 3 assts. La Bomba lived up to his moniker with four 3pt. makes and mixed in a few patented runners as well. Mickeal helped his team get off to a fast start by pouring in 10 of his 14 pts in the 1st quarter.

This game was a microcosm of Ricky Rubio's uneven Euro season: strong start, shaky finish. Ricky played a solid 1st half but was a liability in the 2nd half. Ricky was forced to the bench for most of the 2nd half because of his carelessness--four of his five TOs came in five minutes of 2nd half floor time.

Coach Giannakis tried to change the dynamic of the game for Olympiacos coming out of the halftime break by starting Patrick Beverly and Scoonie Penn in the backcourt. Though, this defensive lineup lacked shooting and Giannakis probably should have inserted Milos Teodosic in favor of Penn. The increased ball pressure was effective and actually threw Rubio off his game. Coach Xavi Pascual had to pull Rubio just two minutes into the 3rd.

Olympiacos' defensive effort early in the 3rd helped them cut Barca's 11-point halftime lead to five points midway thru the quarter. But Barca responded with two back-to-back three-point plays that quickly undercut Olympiacos' momentum.

After cutting the score to 52-47, Olympiacos' over-aggressiveness on defense led to a B. Ndong dunk plus foul. On Barca's next off. possession, Victor Sada nailed a broken-play 3pt. up against the shot clock to push the Barca lead back to 11. Olympiacos never got within double-digits again.

Theo Papaloukas was the only player who could consistently generate offense thru-out the game (12 pts & 3 assts). Theo could not be denied on his dribble-drives--6-for-6 on his 2pts. After a strong semifinal performance, Sofo Schortsianitis had a difficult time finishing off shots against the length of Barca. Never could establish him in the painted area like vs. Partizan.

Josh Childress finished with 15 pts, 6 rebs & 3 stls, but felt Barca made his 2pt. attempts tough and he did most of scoring behind the arc (3-for-5). Linas Kleiza put in 13 pts but had to work for his points like Childress and coughed up four TOs.

Milos Teodosic started the game strong, scoring seven of his 10 pts in the 1st quarter but had little impact the 2nd half. Thought Giannakis should have tried harder to spring Teodosic open for jumpers in the 2nd half.

Both teams' seasons are not yet complete. Barcelona heads back to España to compete in the highly competitive ACB playoffs with the likes of Real Madrid, Caja Laboral & Unicaja in its path. Olympiacos is likely headed for a matchup with Panathinaikos in the Greek league final in a few weeks.

Also: Euroleague Final Four Scouting: Jan Vesely Impresses in Paris


At 6:37 AM, Blogger milaz said...

The key to the game was Barca's defense.... they kept Olympiacos off rhythm the whole game. Sofo could not score and was blocked 4 times in the first half just under the basket. Nobody else could get involved offensively apart from Theo... I think Yiannakis had to be a bit more "creative" to win this game. Use Mpourousis under the basket more... instead of isolating Kleiza and Childress, getting them to score through the team... all their field goals were on 1-on-1 moves - help your players Yiannakis! Barca had Rubio and Navarro in together most of the game - Olympiacos needed more Theo and Teo... anyways... obviously I was with Olympiacos....

Another thing that I would like to see... There are few teams with the budget and players of Barca, Real, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, CSKA, Macambi, Partizan... isn't it a pity to have these teams play so few games against each other... Imagine a playoff series of Barca-Olympiacos (best of 4)! I would like to see an adjustment after Game 1 and watch the matchup evolve...

At 6:39 AM, Blogger milaz said...

that should be "best of 7"

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Os Davis said...

Pretty excellent summation of this game, though as the appointed High Priest of the Church of Rubio, i must ask for clarification of this line: "This game was a microcosm of Ricky Rubio's uneven Euro season: strong start, shaky finish."

Not exactly if you mean he had a shaky finish to the season or if he typically puts in shaky second halves. In case of the former, i'd point out the final EL playoff game against Real Madrid (19 points, 5 boards, 1 TO) and the semifinal game against CSKA (10 points, 8 assists, 3 TO), perhaps his two best games all year long in any competition.

And while i agree the lad was too geeked up to play properly in the second half of the final, Rubio has become known for clampdown D when the game is tight with fewer than five minutes to play.

By the way, excellent call on the Vazquez blocks. It's as though they stopped giving him blocks after the four in the first quarter, though i think he should have been credited with six and possibly seven.

Thanks for a great piece!

Os Davis

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