Road to the Playoffs: FC Barcelona Lassa

Apr 10, 2019 by Print

It was a decisive season for FC Barcelona Lassa. The team had failed to make the playoffs the previous two years, and last summer, a legendary club and Turkish Airlines EuroLeague icon, Juan Carlos Navarro, retired.

With Svetislav Pesic back on the bench, Barcelona brought in new names to a roster with high aspirations. A big opening loss to CSKA in Moscow and another by a point to Herbalife Gran Canaria in its EuroLeague home debut meant a slow start, but there were positive signs, like Thomas Heurtel's club-record 12 assists in Round 1.

Things got better as Barca won six of the next seven games, three of them away from home, including an 85-88 decision over Zalgiris Kaunas, a Final Four team last season. However, things turned cold again with four straight losses in which the team could not break 65 points.

When its offense returned, so did Barcelona's winning ways, in the form of a five-game victory streak that featured road wins over KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. From ninth place at the start of the streak, Barcelona leapt to a tie for fifth.

Soon, another key streak soon with a 55-76 decision over Olympiacos in Piraeus. That tied the best defensive effort by a visitor to Peace and Friendship Stadium this century, which had been accomplished also by Barcelona under Pesic in 2003. The fourth and final win of that streak was as good as it gets for Barcelona, a 77-70 decision at home over its archrival and defending EuroLeague champion Real Madrid in Round 24.

Three games later, revenge on Gran Canaria at home in Round 27 made it official: Barcelona was back in the EuroLeague Playoffs.

The Catalan team will now face Anadolu Efes Istanbul in a best-of-five series in which the Turkish team has the home-court advantage thanks to beating Barcelona 92-70 at home late in the season. As such, Barcelona will have to make sure to win at least one game in Turkey if it wants to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2014 in Milan.