Credit: EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages
Credit EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages

A sold-out Audi Dome crowd went up after Vladimir Lucic finished the third quarter by reducing the gap to 10 with a fast-break layup at the buzzer.

Player of the Game
Nikola  Mirotic
EFF
31
Nikola Mirotic
Points 25
Accuracy 8-11
Rebounds 6
Assists 3

Whether it's three covid outbreaks, the injuries marathon, or a top-notch Barcelona performance, Bayern always was a team that didn't raise the white flag.

But when the hope was back in Munich, the EuroLeague MVP front-runner showed why he deserved this award this season.

Nikola Mirotic went up for 11 consecutive points to silence the Audi Dome.

He started with a three-pointer, added a 2+1, beat Othello Hunter and Augustine Rubit on the low post, and finished his incredible 2.5-minute run with a corner three.

Barcelona increased the lead 72-56, and Mirotic raised his fist, announcing the end of Game 3.

Mirotic finished the night with 25 points (8/11 FG, 7/7 FT), six rebounds, three assists, and 31 PIR to give an edge to Barcelona in the best-of-five series 2-1.

"It's about my teammates. It was a team effort tonight," Nikola Mirotic said on EuroLeague TV after a solid victory 75-66.

"The key was the beginning of the game, our physicality, and our defense. Especially in the first half, we didn't allow them to play as they played in Game 2," he added. "It was a great game, but the job is not finished yet. We know it's not going to be easy, but we'll try to finish it on Friday."

Bayern managed to contain Mirotic in the first two playoff games.

When the series took off in Barcelona, Mirotic averaged 14 points on 38% shooting, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 turnovers, and 10.5 PIR.

Last year Mirotic got in a slump against Zenit St. Petersburg, where he averaged 8.6 points and 7.6 PIR, which basically cost him the MVP award.

Nikola Mirotic

Nikola  Mirotic
Nikola  Mirotic
MIN: 23.92
PTS: 16.79 (67.16%)
REB: 5.06
As: 1.26
ST: 0.74
BL: 0.29
TO: 1.85
GM: 34

It took him 21 games to reach 20 points in the EuroLeague playoffs.

However, Barcelona head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius stood behind his star player, giving an explanation behind these numbers.

"Basketball is being played by two teams. Basketball is being coached by two coaches... At some times. Last year in the playoffs, we played against Zenit, who had good tough four position players such as Will Thomas and Zubkov, who understood smart fouls and how not to give something cheap. This year we’re playing against Deshaun Thomas, Augustine Rubit, and Lucic sometimes, who’s playing the fourth position. And we’re playing against Andrea Trinchieri," Jasikevicius said in the press conference.

"These are the top EuroLeague coaches. They’re not stupid. They’re not going to give Mirotic to score 30 points. This is the bottom line. It’s two teams playing. One team is trying to get Mirotic whatever he had today, 11 shots and 7 foul shots. And the other team is working for one week without sleeping. I’m sure they do like we do to prevent that from happening," Jasikevicius added.

"I thought we were a little bit more patient today. If you’re trying to go against Bayern or last year’s Zenit to a first or second option, it will not work. They will take that away. You have to go to the third or fourth. If you’re not ready to go for the third or fourth, it will be a problem," Jasikevicius explained.

In general, Jasikevicius was pleased with Barcelona's reaction after the Game 2 loss.

"We must be happy with the game. Congratulations to our players and fans. I thought the first half was spectacular. I thought we were very solid. One first-half turnover is a fantastic performance," Saras said in an opening statement.

Barca were up by 19 early in the second quarter (41-22). They controlled the offense behind solid Calathes leadership (8 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST, 1 TO), and gave nothing easy for Bayern on the other end.

"We shot the ball all the time. We found very good options on the seal. I thought our big guys that had to create from the inside the post created the game. They really understood when they had to finish," Jasikevicius added.

Next to Mirotic, Rolands Smits played a great game, with 12 points (10 in the first half), 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.

"I thought we played very, very simple basketball. It’s something that’s the most important at this level, how to play simple. It’s normal with our team that we relax. It’s no secret that it’s the kind of team we are. But we dealt with it in a good way, and we pulled the game out against a very good Bayern team. So we’re very happy," Jasikevicius concluded.

Barca set the tone from the jump ball.

They build an early double-digit lead in the first quarter (18-5) behind three 3-pointers of Nicolas Laprovittola and Mirotic's 8 points (6/6 FT).

Barcelona was so focused and physical that Bayern just couldn't match it at the beginning. The hosts were limited to 32% shooting in the first half.

"You always do the same job. You show mistakes to your players, you talk with them, do some drills," Jasikevicius explained how he set his team for a perfect start.

"They're smart players. However, we're going up and down too much at such a level. I believe today we found Calathes, who controlled the team perfectly. I believe Mirotic and Smits did a fantastic job sealing and making good decisions playing in the low post against their backcourt players. And we found Lapro in the beginning, who opened the game with his 3-pointers," Jasikevicius continued.

"But later, it was a classical scenario with Bayern and a wonderful character that they showed in the last 1.5 years by pulling a lot of fourth quarters, especially in this gym against the best teams. And the thing which I can't control as a coach, which is the way my team relaxes all the time. But this is our issue, and we'll live with it. Most importantly, we found a way to pull it out tonight."

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FC Bayern Munich
FC Barcelona
34%
20/58
Field goals
53%
28/53
35
Rebounds
30
13
Assists
17
4
Steals
2
75
Efficiency
82
17%
4/24
3-pointers
35%
8/23

Best players

Vladimir  Lucic
17 PTS
5/13 FG
6/6 FT
Nikola  Mirotic
25 PTS
8/11 FG
7/7 FT
Augustine  Rubit
8 REB
4 DREB
4 OREB
Nick  Calathes
7 REB
7 DREB
0 OREB
Nick  Weiler-Babb
4 As
2 TO
31 MIN
Nick  Calathes
8 As
1 TO
31 MIN
Augustine  Rubit
27 EFF
50% 2P%
50% 3P%
Nikola  Mirotic
31 EFF
86% 2P%
50% 3P%