Barcelona, Spain – FC Barcelona hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv for a matchup between two Euroleague giants. The goal for both teams was to keep pace with Euroleague leaders Anadolu Efes Istanbul, the standings leader. Barcelona was looking to build off a crucial win over Fenerbache while Maccabi was looking to get back to its winning ways, following a tough loss at EX Armani Exchange Milan, just three days prior. After a close first half which ended with Maccabi ahead 46-43, Barcelona dominated the second half en route to a convincing 96-73 victory.
The hosts were led by Nikola Mirotic. The 2.08 M power forward dominated on the offensive end both inside and outside the arc and scored a game-high 25 points. In the low post he often posted up and made plays at the rim with his strong footwork. When he missed inside, he fought hard and created second chance opportunities. His three triples were exclusively from spot up shots, but he also did a good job using screens to free himself up and draw fouls. Furthermore, his rebounding in this game stood out. He was always battling and boxing out his guys. His effort ended up with 14 rebounds, three of which came on the offensive side with one put back layup. Defensively, he forced one turnover, but his presence near the rim forced Maccabi players to bad shots and poor decisions in the paint.
Former NBA guard, Tyler Dorsey (1.96 M) was a key figure in Maccabi’s strong first half and kept his team within eight points entering the fourth quarter with his great shooting. Two of his three triples on the night came off the dribble in situations where there was not a lot to salvage for the team on the offensive end of the floor. Another one came, when he came off a screen for an open jumper. Most impressive was his attack of the full court press used by Barcelona most of the game. Upon the catch he attacked the teeth of the press and created multiple 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 situations that resulted in easy points. He also attacked the rim strong and made tough shots look easy. Dorsey scored 15 points in 18 minutes of ac tion.Defensively, he could have shown more discipline and attempt to stay in front of his man while defending dribble drives. He could have also contested shots better and attack the passing lanes.
Among future NBA prospects, it was once again Deni Avdija (18, 2.05 M) who showed the most promise. Maccabi’s young combo forward started for a second consecutive game and really made his mark early by doing the little things on the defensive end of the floor. He used a simple dribble drive to create space and set up a teammate for an early layup. A few plays later, he boxed the experienced Mirotic allowing a teammate to snag the rebound and begin a transition opportunity that ended with an easy two points. He also made a few calculated passes that helped Maccabi break Barcelona’s press. He inbounded the ball on those occasions.
In the second half, Avdija stepped up on other facets of his game. First, he got an offensive rebound and went up strong right away, drawing an unsportsmanlike foul as a result. On the next defensive play, he shot the passing lane and coasted for an off-hand spike at the rim. Beyond that he was aggressive and looked to create off the dribble after picking up rebounds of which he recorded a career-high seven.
Up Next: Barcelona (8-2) hosts CSKA Moscow (6-4). Maccabi will return home to host LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne (5-5) and young French star Theo Maledon.
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