FC Barcelona is on a seven-game winning streak heading into its Round 11 clash against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. Sitting atop of the standings with an 8-1 record, Barcelona features the league's best scoring defense, allowing just 69.4 points per game, but the team also has had stellar efficiency and accuracy close to the rim.
One player who is a shining example of such accuracy is big man Rolands Smits. The former EuroCup Rising Star, now in his third season with Barcelona, has been on fire off the bench in recent weeks.
No player since Round 7 has been more accurate from close range than Smits who has made 13 of his 14 two-point attempts during that span.
Smits's run started in a 67-103 road drubbing of ALBA Berlin when he had 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting from close range in less than 13 minutes on the floor. He topped that a week later in Round 8 in a 42-point home win over Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, which he finished with 7-of-8 shooting from two-point range for 20 points in 16 minutes.
Smits continued his hot streak last week, albeit in a more modest performance, making both of his shots in a home win over Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade.
Over those three games, all big Barcelona victories, Smits has made 92.9% of his two-point shots on a variety of dunks, put-backs and low-post moves. He also shot 3 for 4 (75%) from behind the arc in those games and made both of the free throws he attempted, making him 16 for 18 on field goals and 2 for 2 from the foul line over that span.
In less than 14 minutes a game, the 25-year old forward posted an impressive 12.3 points along with 5.3 rebounds per contest over the last three games. For the season, he is at 8.2 points and 3.6 rebounds, by far the best numbers of his career in his third season in the competition.
Such performances, not just from Smits, are a big reason Barcelona tops the EuroLeague standings heading into Round 11. Barcelona leads the EuroLeague in average two-point shots made (22.0 per game) and in two-point accuracy (59.6%), the latter of which is on a pace to set a new EuroLeague record, bettering the 59.2% Real Madrid shot in 2001-02.
Barcelona has been dominant inside with seven players making two-point shots at a rate of 60% or better. The best among them is star forward Nikola Mirotic who ranks second in the league at 81% on two-pointers while averaging 17.7 points per game. Smits ranks fifth among qualified players at 71.9%
Smits, Mirotic and co. will attempt to continue their record-breaking pace on Friday night at the Astroballe, a place where Barca has not lost since 1996, against a club it has defeated the last eight times they played each other.