Going into Game 4 on Friday, FC Barcelona Lassa was coming off one of the biggest home defeats in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs history. Anadolu Efes Istanbul had downed dominated Game 3 of their best-of-five series 68-102, taking a 2-1 lead and regaining home-court advantage.
Those 102 points were the most scored by a playoffs road winner since 2005 and the most ever allowed by Barcelona in this phase. Barcelona had two choices after Wednesday -- give up and surrender, or rally before its home crowd to keep its Final Four dream alive by taking the series back to Istanbul.
Naturally, Barcelona opted to fight, and in so doing, turned the tables as few teams have done before in the playoffs. On Wednesday, Barcelona had allowed Efes to dish 25 assists as compared to just 7 turnovers. Barely 48 hours later, showing great character and focus, Barcelona limited Efes to 13 assists and forced 14 turnovers.
Barcelona's determination was shown in all the hustle stats. The hosts out-rebounded Efes by 37-28, pulling down 14 offensive boards. Barcelona hit 25-of-48 two-point shots (52.2%), limiting Efes to just 9-of-22 accuracy inside the arc (40.9%). Efes had hit 26-of-35 two-point shots in Game 3, which means that Barcelona allowed 17 fewer baskets inside the arc in Game 4.
Efes took 67 field goals attempts in Game 3 and just 48 in Game 4 because Barcelona used its fouls much better. Having only committed 11 in Game 3, Barcelona raised that number to 24 in Game 4, which put Efes out of its rhythm. The hosts played a much better defense on Efes point guard Vasilije Micic, who had trouble against longer defenders Adam Hanga and Victor Claver throughout Game 4. Micic had 14 points, 8 assists and 1 turnover in Game 3, but 4 points, 4 assists and 3 turnovers in Game 4.
Perhaps the perfect example of Barcelona's great team attitude was Claver's all-around performance, contributing in many aspects of the game. He finished the game with 8 points on 2-of-2 three-point shots, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and 2 fouls drawn for a team-high PIR of 20. Claver had one rebound, no assists, no steals and no fouls drawn in Game 3, but came out ready 48 hours later, ready to make the difference.
All four games in this series have been very different from each other. Game 5 is unlikely to be an exception, so stay tuned for a big showdown on May 1. The winner will go to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four!