Barcelona – Olympiacos

J.C.Navarro Barcelona host Olympiacos in Palau Blaugrana and that should be a great battle between two Euroleague powerhouses, because teams are just 3-4 in the standings and now every match is like a final for both. But looking to upcoming schedule we most notice that Olympiacos has easy schedule ahead – Laboral (H), Brose (A), Zalgiris and Real (both H)-, while Barcelona travels to Khimki, than host CSKA and Real Madrid, and than travels to Vittoria. So if Barca wants to be in playoffs this year they absolutely must win this game, because they lost in Greece by 12 points and if they will fail again – I doubt that they will advance.. For Olympiacos things are less difficult. Their goal minimum tonight hold +12 handicap and try to win.

Olympiacos comes without Lojeski, but Papanikolaou is in so nothing changes in terms of roster quality at the moment. They also signed Hakim Warrick (ex-NBA center), but he is not in the team at the moment. Barcelona signed Dorsey as Lawal substitution, who is out for long period of time. Bookies already reacted to Barcelona problems this years and graded them down in their rankings closer to Olympiacos level. It will be interesting to see if Barca will be able to attack the spreads from this position, because being at higher level they failed to cover the spread in last 3 games. Why? Because of weak defense. Samuels, Tomic, Doellman are attacking players and can’t do defensive stops. Lawal was the only person with defensive mentality, but he is out. Dorsey is another defender, but I doubt that he will be ready to solve Barca defensive problems.

Olympiacos had a bad start in Top-16, but now looks improved (2-0 ATS in last games). Papanikolaou should compensate Lojeski in offense. I expect slow pace here with both teams doing around 78 posessions, but I don’t have much faith in Barcelona defense, which is allowing 0.9 pts/poss. at home. Olympiacos is one of the best teams offensively (0.95 pts/poss.) and except games, when there were in bad moment of form (Zalgiris and Real) they did 0.91+ pts/poss. in each game. So Olympiacos should score 71-77 points according to my calculations. It will be hard to shut down Barca offense at home, but due the low pace we can expect many points from them too. 73-77 is my range for Barcelona here.

Prediction: Barcelona 77 – 74 Olympiacos

Pick: Olympiacos over 71 @ 1.925 Pinnacle

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