Defense got Bayern closer to its 'dreams and goals'

Mar 20, 2021 by by Darius Garuolis Print
Defense got Bayern closer to its 'dreams and goals'

What would an FC Bayern Munich victory look like if it didn't feature some major drama around a rally from a double-digit deficit? On Friday night, Bayern took its derring-do a notch further, coming back from 15 points down to beat red-hot Anadolu Efes Istanbul on a last-second blocked shot.

Led by usual suspects Vladimir Lucic and Jalen Reynolds, Bayern's 80-79 win ended Efes's eight-game winning streak and gave Bayern an all-important 2-0 season sweep between them.

This was Bayern's 19th victory of the season, including a league-high 12 on its home floor. Bayern, with its 12-3 record at the Audi Dome, is also the only team that has won 80 percent of its home games this season.

Bayern 12 home wins

This time, Bayern did it with defense against a team that had averaged 96.8 points over its previous five games.

"Against switching man-to-man we made a lot of mistakes," Efes head coach Ergin Ataman said, complimenting Bayern's defense. "We didn't play well tonight, but the reason is Bayern played very smart and a very good defense."

After allowing 46 points in the first half, Bayern held Efes's well-oiled offense to just 33 points in the second. Efes downed 8 triples on the night but was held to just 2-for-12 accuracy from the three-point arc in the second half.

Bayern also forced 9 of Efes's 15 turnovers in the third and fourth quarters combined and held the visitors to just 13 assists, which is tied for the fewest assists Efes has had in a game in 2021.

Of course, the defense was epitomized by the last play, when James Gist rejected superstar Shane Larkin's shot before it had a chance to win the game for Efes.

"This win is just an extra step to our dreams and goals this season," Lucic said after the game.

Friday's win got Bayern inches away from becoming the first-ever German team to qualify for the EuroLeague Playoffs, but also kept it in the middle of a battle for home-court advantage in those playoffs. For a team with the best home record this season and the motivation of reaching the Final Four in Germany through the playoffs, that would be no small matter.