A Euroleague of tachycardia

The numbers speak clearly: it is the most even Euroleague in the standings, with tighter matches, overtime record and more away victories.


The 2020-21 Euroleague advances, does not stop and covers its calendar with a feeling of normality that came to seem unlikely before its start and already in competition, during a few weeks in which postponements and debates on health protocols seemed to be imposed on sports, with the swell in the background that meant harmonizing dates, trips and attentions with national competitions.

But the most dangerous corners, for now, are left behind, and the competition continues with a well-earned normalcy. All that can be had for now, at least, without an audience in most of the fields and with the constant fight against COVID in a continental framework in which things are not going exactly well. The season in the top European competition has covered 24 of its 34 days of a regular phase that will end, if all goes well, on April 9. From May 20 to 5, the playoffs will be played and from May 28 to 30, the Final Four in Cologne is scheduled, the city that was to host the event last season, when the pandemic forced the definitive cancellation after the abrupt stop that arrived after completing 28 days. The last matches were played on March 6, the postponement arrived on the 12th and on May 25, after handling alternative dates and formats, the final closure of a course that was finally impossible.

This season, the 21st in the modern era of the Euroleague (64th overall) started with the same teams as last, 18 for the second time. And regular league format all against all by fifth. During three seasons (2016-19) 16 teams competed. The last one, unfinished, was the first of 18. Gone was the last previous format, that of four groups of six, top 16 (two groups of 8), quarterfinal playoffs and Final Four.

The competition has grown and is reaching a very high level… and with a lot of excitement, a blessing for the fans. The numbers can be summarized like this if they are compared with those of the four previous seasons in this format and at this point in the calendar (24 dates consumed): more wins away, better shooting percentages, more equality in the games, with a record of overtime included and more pressure in the fight for the quarterfinals.

The first two points are obviously related to the absence of an audience, which opens up more possibilities for visiting teams and, in conditions of less environmental pressure, improves the shooting percentages of the players.

In the 211 games played this season, teams have averaged 53.5% on shots from two, 37.6% on triples and 79.6% on free throws. The last two are the best brands and leave behind 37.43% in triples from 2016-17 and 77.4% from last year's personnel line. In shots of two, the current figure is just four tenths of the best, in the 2018-19 season (53.9%). 444 444

Home teams have won only 54% of the games so far, 9.2% less than last season, which had the lowest number so far (63.3%) of home wins. In the previous ones, that mark rose above 65% and up to 66% in 2016-17. Visitors win, therefore, 45.9% of the matches for 33.9% of that first year in a free-for-all format.

The matches are not only more difficult to predict with less court factor, but they are also more even than ever in this five-year new format: of the 211, 48 (22.7%) have decided on a basket (three points or less), 71 (33.5%) by five points or less and 129 by (61.1%) by ten points or less. The first is the highest figure (it had never reached 20%) and the other two are within tenths of a percentage point. In addition, as a result of that avalanche of resolutions on the wire, there are also more extensions than ever: for now, 15 in 211 games, 7.1% that improves the 6.5% of last season, the highest so far in 24 days.

This equality, and that is excellent news for the final stretch (last ten games) of the regular phase, is transferred to the classification, where Barcelona is the leader with a balance of 17-7 and Zalgiris is ninth, the first that he would be left out right now, with only three more defeats (13-10). There are three teams with nine defeats, three with ten ... the fight to be in the quarterfinals and to have the best possible position is going to reach, it seems, the finish line.

Barça is the leader with the most defeats (7) at this point. Only one team lost so much ... in the entire regular phase, and it was Real Madrid from the first year with this format, 2016-17: 23-7 in the total 30 days. Jasikevicius' team only adds 14.3% more wins than Zalgiris. In past seasons that difference was 42, 38, 22 and 25% more victories than the leader.

Barça only has 4.1% more wins than the second and 8.3% more than the fifth, the first that would not have a home court factor. This last figure went to percentages between 16 and 25% in previous seasons. But now, no one escapes and the end of the year promises tachycardia. In the best sense.

Photos from as.com
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