The conclusion of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague regular season will be all about details such as the out-of-bounds efficiency that has already had a positive impact on the chances of FC Bayern Munich to make the playoffs.

High-Gravity Matchup

FC Barcelona not only earned a hard-fought victory over archrival Real Madrid in Round 29, but also became the first team to clinch a postseason berth in the process. In what was one of their worst defensive performances since the calendar turned to 2021, Barcelona nonetheless forced 16 turnovers to overcome some uncharacteristic difficulties contesting shots. It is not easy to win in the EuroLeague when an opponent shoots better than 45% from beyond the arc, but that is part of what makes this Barcelona team so formidable – they can still win games even when they are not playing up to their lofty standard.

Out-of-Bounds Plays

The turnover margin was key to Barcelona’s win, but so was their effectiveness in special situations. Scoring 17 points over 13 possessions from inbounds plays, they generated several good-quality looks from executing set plays in a game when they needed every one of them to pull out a narrow victory.

Out-of-bounds situations hold a prominent place in the playbooks of every EuroLeague coach. Often taken as an opportunity to run a set play off the brief pause, out-of-bounds possessions often present coaches an opportunity to generate a shot for a specific player, try to exploit a weakness in an opponent’s defense, or simply get creative. Making up 14% of all half-court possessions in the EuroLeague this season, out-of-bounds plays are converted for just 0.91 points per possession—well below the 0.98 value for all other half-court possession. Out-of-bounds plays tend to be much less efficient than other half-court possessions as the shots they produce are not converted at an especially strong rate.

That is truer for some teams than others. The graphic above displays the four most efficient teams in the EuroLeague in points per out-of-bounds possession. Not only has FC Bayern Munich been this season’s most efficient team scoring from out of bounds, but their success in that regard has been a key part of their overall efficiency this season. Averaging a 15th-ranked 0.93 points per possession in the half-court overall this season, Bayern’s offensive efficiency gets a significant boost from the plays Andrea Trinchieri has drawn up and the way his players have executed them.

Bayern is a great example of why special situations matter and how the details of EuroLeague gameplans tend to have significant ramifications—especially when the standings are as crowded as they have been the last couple years. Over the course of a 34-game season, a few well-run plays can be the difference in making and missing the playoffs for some teams. For others, those bounces are expected. Last season, Anadolu Efes Istanbul was the league’s most efficient offensive team overall and performed almost exactly to their overall standard in out-of-bounds situations. For teams like Bayern, however, execution has set them apart in the standings from the dense middle of the pack.

Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Zenit St Petersburg have been just as efficient in out-of-bounds situations as they have been overall within their half-court offense – a distinction that few teams live up to year-to-year when they are scoring over 1.00 points per possession. Fenerbahce has been this season’s top shot-making team in inbounds situations, but Bayern edges them here by virtue of an exceedingly low turnover rate.

Valencia Basket rounds out the top four by producing the highest volume of dunks and layups out from out-of-bounds plays of any team by a considerable margin. For some teams, inbounds plays are just an opportunity to put a different spin on what they already do at a high-level and that is the case for Valencia, which has been exceptionally effective finishing around the rim all year regardless of the scenario.

Looking ahead to Round 30

FC Barcelona may have clinched a playoff berth, but Round 30 presents them with an opportunity to get another game clear of second-place AX Armani Exchange Milan and go a step closer to securing home-court advantage in the playoffs when they head to Italy for this week’s marquee matchup. For the hosts, whose chances to clinch a playoff berth this week depend on beating Barcelona, this game presents an interesting test for their second-ranked offense. Barcelona has been the class of the EuroLeague on the defensive end, but Milan presents a unique challenge as by far the most prolific jump-shooting team this season.

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