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Barcelona’s downfall continues

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The loss to Baskonia on the road (85-82) was the fifth straight one for the Catalans, who struggle to turn things around and still are at the bottom of the table (13th place, 4-10 record).

Although the “Blaugrana” had high expectations heading into the 2017/18 season, thanks to their roster’s depth and talent, they have failed to play consistently so far and, consequently, their place in the playoffs has already been in serious jeopardy.

Even though they claimed an emphatic victory over Panathinaikos Superfoods in the season opener (98-71), they have suffered 10 defeats in their last 13 Euroleague games since then.

That said, what are the reasons behind the Catalans’ free fall?

Judging by the stats, the weird thing is that the club is close to the top in many categories, especially offensively. Yet, this hasn’t prevented them from losing to their opponents.

More specifically, the “Blaugrana” are fifth in points (80.86 per game), index rating (91.07) and two-point percentage (53.1%), first in assists (20.5 per game) and assist/turnover ratio (171.86%), fourth in total rebounds (35.64 per game) and seventh in field-goal (48.88%) and three-point percentage (37.66%), respectively.

The aforementioned numbers should ensure the team would prevail over their opponents, given their ability to run the floor well and score in transition, thanks to their dominance in defensive rebounds (on top of the respective category with 27.21 per game).

However, Barcelona have been unable to remain competitive and their biggest issue is their defensive performance, which is extremely poor, especially in the last five games.

Euroleague Basketball
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Despite making almost seven steals (6.36) and three blocks (2.86) per game, their ineffectiveness in both 1 on 1 and 5 on 5 situations enables their opponents to take advantage of it and score easy points.

More specifically, they concede 80 points per game, and (even worse) 87.4 points in their last five matches.

As a result, it doesn’t come as a surprise that they have suffered five straight defeats and seven in their last nine games.

There is an obvious lack of defensive strategy in the Spanish side, which leads to the Catalans not being productive on both ends of the floor, and that’s why they have failed to beat their opponents.

Apart from Adam Hanga, Pau Ribas and Andrien Moerman, there is no other great defender in the roster, while coach Sito Alonso needs to improve his defensive tactics and raise his players’ intensity on the one end of the floor.

Euroleague Basketball
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

If the “Blaugrana” play at the same high standards as they did in the second half of their match against Baskonia on Friday, they may have the chance to make an epic come-back and fight tooth and nail for their qualification to the playoffs.

Against the Basques at the “Fernando Buesa Arena”, the Catalans outscored their opponents 47-33 in the second half and came back from a 25-point deficit, only to come up short in the end (85-82).

Yet, their impressive performance in the last 15 minutes of the game, both defensively and offensively, can be the key in the club’s effort to turn things around.

Otherwise, things will remain difficult, as Barcelona will face the likes of Khimki (away), CSKA Moscow (home) and Panathinaikos (away) in the next three weeks, so their losing streak could be extended to eight games.

And if this happens, and given their 4-13 record, it will be almost impossible for the team to advance to the playoffs, so they will have a second straight unsuccessful season.

Euroleague Basketball
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Overall, Barcelona now are at a crossroads and should drastically enhance their defensive performance and start being victorious in their matches, otherwise the situation will certainly deteriorate.

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