AX Armani Exchange Milan finished fourth in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Coach Ettore Messina's team has excelled in shooting from long-range all season and has demonstrated cool heads to take good care of the ball, thus limiting its number of turnovers in a very consistent way.
Even if Milan was not consistent in all aspects of the game for Milan, it was more than enough to earn the team home-court advantage for its playoff series against FC Bayern Munich.
As can be seen in the graph above, Milan has excelled on the offensive end all season long. It ranked no lower than sixth in average points per game and finished fourth (81.4 ppg.). Most of those points arrived from beyond the arc, where Milan felt comfortable all season, leading for many weeks and finishing second (41.5%).
In two-point shooting, Milan suffered a drop as the season went on and the team relied more on threes and also on its constantly improving shooting from the free-throw line, where it ranked fifth (81.2%) for the regular season.
Milan has also taken extremely good care of the ball this season. Except for the first couple of games, the team quickly rose to the top of teams with the fewest turnovers and finished as the best team in the league in that aspect (10.9 TOpg.). Milan also went from more to less in assists, dropping, from sixth place to as low as 18th and then hovering around the bottom five in the league.
It's safe to say that three-point consistency, improvements in free throw accuracy and low turnovers were the main offensive factors that helped Milan finish fourth in the standings.
It should not surprise anyone that Milan also ended the regular season as the team allowing the fewest steals by its opponents (5.8 spg.) which was also reflected in the decrease in opponents' points off turnovers.
Milan was fortunate to see its opponents fare worse from the charity stripe as the season went on, finishing third in that aspect after 34 games. However, the team also suffered a bit in defending opposing snipers as the best it could do was seventh at one point, but ended up as 12th in opponents' percentage from that range.
For the playoffs, Milan will need to take care of defensive rebounds, as one of its weaknesses has been opponents' second-chance points. Crashing the offensive boards should also be a priority for Milan in this playoffs, as the team was virtually always in the lower fourth of teams in defensive rebounds allowed.
In general terms, the numbers show that Milan has succeeded in reaching its first goal this season thanks to its offensive prowess, especially in two or three areas. That was enough for the team to earn a top-four spot in the standings.
Milan will meet playoff debutante FC Bayern Munich in Game 1 on Tuesday, April 20. Of course, Milan will have the home-court advantage in the series. If Ettore Messina's men manage to keep the course in offense and kick it up a notch or two on defense, they will be the favorites to take the series and crash the Final Four party.