A Tired Barça ran aground before the physical game Maccabi Playtika of Tel Aviv at the Palau Blaugrana (67-68) and gave up the leadership of the Euroleague, who now commands CSKA Moscow alone. In an even game, the Barça team, without center Brandon Davies due to injury, played their fourth game in seven days and missed the usual offensive clairvoyance to stop the inside game of a rival who captured 12 offensive rebounds.
Maccabi stepped onto the Palau court with clear ideas. Sin Davies, sick at the last minute due to muscular discomfort, insisted Ioannis Sfairopoulous in propose a physical match, taking advantage of their superiority in the zone with Othello Hunter and, especially in the first half, with Dragan Bender, Maccabi’s top scorer with 15 points.
Barça did not correctly interpret where the advantages were. He insisted on looking for spots in the paint and the Israeli team closed spaces forcing hasty shots. Wilbekin’s three-pointers did not enter, who finished the game with only 7 points, but had enough with the contribution in the paint to leave the 12-17 after the first ten minutes. That Barça was not comfortable was demonstrated by Calathes’ zero assists in the first half and the difficulties of damaging Mirotic’s area.
So, Jasikevicius found a solution in the outside shot. Kyle Kuric came in and Barça breathed. Two triples from the American equalized the match (22-22, min.14), but the Catalans were still not comfortable on the floor. However, Maccabi rushed from the perimeter with Dorsey somewhat unfortunate and saw how, from the free throw line, his rival went into the break with a slim advantage (32-30).
The defenses did not send in the third period. Barça found something more comfortable in the zone and failed more from the perimeter. On the other hand, outsiders like Dorsey or Bryant appeared at Maccabi to compensate for the lack of success in the first half. When he was able to run, the local team enjoyed an advantage with which it gave a break (44-39, min.25), but the failures from the 6.75 meter line penalized the Catalans, a situation that Maccabi took advantage of to equalize the encounter.
Barça was supported by an unexpected actor, Pustovyi, and a protagonist like Higgins, who left 54-53 before the last act. Maccabi dominated the rhythm again, who controlled the offensive rebound and scored easily (59-63, min. 35). Jasikevicius stopped the game and Barça, with more pride than play, scored two triples by Kuric and Calathes to command the match again (67-63, min.37).
It seemed that the Catalan team would put the stake back on track, but they were left without scoring in the last three minutes. The party went crazy. Kuric’s triples did not enter and the losses in the ranks of the locals multiplied. The Maccabi, with more pride than ideas, would score five points, the last two with a Hunter dunk with 13 seconds to go. In the last possession, very well defended by the visitors, Higgins played a forced triple that did not enter. Thus the Barça defeat was consumed, the fourth of the season in the Euroleague.
67 – Barça (12 + 20 + 22 + 13): Calathes (11), Higgins (16), Abrines (3), Mirotic (12) and Pustovyi (8) -starting five-, Hanga (-), Bolmaro (-), Smits (5), Oriola (-), Martínez (-) and Kuric (12).
68 – Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv (17 + 13 + 23 + 15): Wilbekin (7), Bryant (10), Caloiaro (4), Bender (15), Hunter (10) -starting five-, Jones (2), Casspi (2), Dorsey (14), Dibartolomeo (2), Blayzer (-), Zizic (2) and Zoosman (-).
Referees: Ilija Belosevic, Matej Boltauzer and Robert Vyklicky. Removed: Bender (min.37)
Incidents: match of the fifteenth day of the Euroleague played without an audience at the Palau Blaugrana.