MVP for March: Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona

Apr 05, 2021 by Print

March was an important month for FC Barcelona as it became the first team to qualify for the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs and then the first to secure home-court advantage for those best-of-five quarterfinals. Star power forward Nikola Mirotic was at the center of it all, which made him the natural choice as the Euroleague Basketball MVP of March. Mirotic was unstoppable throughout the month, leading the competition in PIR with 26.8 per game while helping Barcelona beat Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Real Madrid and AX Armani Exchange Milan on the road, as well as TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and ALBA Berlin at home. Mirotic showed relentless effort throughout the month, posting a PIR of at least 22 in each of his team's six games and matching his season high of 34 in Barcelona's only loss in March, on the road at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv in overtime.

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 17th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance during the month in question. Mirotic has become the first player to win the award five times. He previously won it with Real Madrid in December 2011 and October 2013, and with Barcelona in December 2019 and February 2020. 

After Barcelona had lost two of its three EuroLeague games in February, Mirotic was determined to lead his team back to the winning path. In Round 27, Barcelona defeated Panathinaikos 77-85 behind 25 points and 5 rebounds from Mirotic, who made a season-high 5 three-point shots. Barcelona returned to Palau Blaugrana to hosts Baskonia, which arrived on a five-game winning streak. Barcelona led 25-4 after 10 minutes and ended up beating Baskonia 71-57 with 18 points from Mirotic. In the next two games on the road, in Madrid and Milan, Mirotic kept pacing the league leaders. He had 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 8 fouls drawn in a 76-81 victory against Real, followed by 15 points and 5 rebounds to lead Barcelona to a no-doubt-about-it 56-72 win over Milan at Mediolanum Forum. Mirotic had a season-high 26 points and 7 rebounds in an 80-67 home win against ALBA Berlin and collected 23 points and 10 rebounds in his team's overtime road loss in Tel Aviv. Mirotic led Barcelona in PIR in all six games in March. In five of them, he had the highest PIR of either team in the game. Only Edy Tavares of Real (29) had a higher PIR than Mirotic (24) in El Clásico.

Mirotic averaged 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals for a 26.8 PIR in March, the best among all EuroLeague players. His performance in the month reconfirmed his status as one of the superstars of the competition. Mirotic has been the best player on the best team in the competition so far, and in March he put Barcelona in the best possible position to reach the Final Four, with home-court advantage in its playoff series. Just like Barcelona, Mirotic last played in the EuroLeague Final Four back in 2014, in his case for Real, which lost the championship game in overtime. Few players, if any, will be hungrier to lift the trophy for the first time than the MVP of March. Mirotic will receive his award at an upcoming Barcelona game.