By Panos Katsiroumpas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow what a wonderful game in Piraeus! Tension, battle, passion, a huge playoff game. In the end we can say that Olympiacos defeated the Catalans because of their defensive differentiation of the last quarter.
Barcelona came in Athens prepared for this game. They were ready to face the defense of Olympiacos in every aspect. How they did that? Primarily they used Navarro as the basic creator. When he was on the court, he was coming from the wings after the screens, looking primarily for instant execution, and if this was not possible, he was the source of creating almost every play.
His huge understanding of the game and his quality, gave what Barcelona needed. A 3 meters pass, and great spacing afterwards. Barcelona was moving the ball greatly in offense and had many open shots, because the defense of Olympiacos was almost impossible to react in this great plays. The problem of Barcelona was the execution. They had too many open shots, but they score too little from them Navarro finished the game with 6 assists, but in many occasions he was the creator of the pass that opened the defense. On the other hand Olympiacos had to face a different approach of the defense of Barcelona.
Barcelona was facing the pick n roll plays of Olympiacos with very offensive hedge out defense. Either Tomic or Pleiss were double-teaming together with the guard defender, the player that was trying to create from Olympiacos, Spanoulis in the majority of the occasions. With this defense they wanted to open the offensive gaps of Olympiacos and steal balls.
Despite this defense, Spanoulis played hugely. Especially in the 1st half, his level of creation was in high standards. Barcelona risked again the 3 point- shots from the power forward position, and had again problems with their weak side defense, and the reds took advantage of them. Especially the defense of Doellman in this occasions was very pure.
Even though Olympiacos was in the lead, it was clear that Barcelona, had better offensive opportunities during the first 30 minutes and the Reds couldn’t find the defensive answers. In the beginning of the 4th quarter, Olympiacos changed completely their defensive strategy. They started switching in every screen, risking the miss matches, and their defensive rebounding, just to stop the great ball movement of Barcelona.
Barcelona was not ready to face that defense. They completely lost their rhythm in offense and they couldn’t take advantage of any of the miss matches. The reality is that they needed a totally different offensive approach. Olympiacos made a run, Barcelona was scoring only from the free throw line (their only gain from the miss matches) and in the end they run out of time.
Olympiacos won in the end because they risked. And the reality is that they needed a risk, because Barca was having rhythm in offense. Barcelona lost because they didn’t get advantage of their open shots. Doellman missed some, Oleson also missed and finished with 5/21 in total, most of them open shots. The 4th game will be a chess battle between these 2 great teams.