Real Madrid snapped their three game losing streak with a very important win at home against rivals FC Barcelona in Madrid 87-75 on December 14th.
For top NBA draft prospect Luka Doncic, it was a solid game across all fronts as he scored 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field, 3-of-7 from three, claimed six rebounds, dished out seven assists, came up with one steal, committed one turnover and registered a PIR of 26 in 26 minutes of play coming off of the bench.
16 points on 6-of-13 from the field and 3-of-7 from three for Doncic in this one…
It wasn’t the offensive outburst from Olympiacos (where he scored 33 points) but solid scoring on good efficiency. Doncic didn’t really look for his own offense in this game, particularly in the second half.
We’ll start with the three-point shooting, since it was how most of Doncic’s 16 points were consisted of.
Two of these came in the second quarter when Doncic was beginning to feel it and heat up, having spent most of the first quarter on the bench.
After punishing Barcelona for showing off of the pick-and-roll with two assists back-to-back, Barcelona abandoned that and Doncic made sure to make them pay for getting caught up on the drag screen:
For this next three, Barcelona defend the pick-and-roll better initially, but Doncic hits the defender with a jab and a step-back, who falls for it, and Doncic hits the open three:
After hitting those two threes back-to-back, you can forgive Doncic for going to the haymaker/heat-check:
It was a pretty deep attempt but we’ve seen Doncic hit these before and, to be fair, he was given the room to let it fly — just offline…
In what will go down as one of Doncic’s best plays of the season, he hits this, almost, full court heave to end the third quarter:
Nothing. But. Net — what an incredible shot. Doncic called it ‘luck’ postgame, and there’s always an element of luck when it comes to a shot like that but even still…
That was all for the three-point makes but there was this play in the fourth quarter I really liked. It was how Doncic faked a pass inside and it created room for an open three-point attempt as the defender bit at the fake:
Didn’t make this shot but I liked how he opened it up for himself.
Moving away from three-point shooting, Doncic had other impressive plays offensively.
Coming the other way with Fabien Causeur off of a turnover, Doncic receives the ball and it looks like he initially wants to dunk it home but adjusts mid-air and converts a very tough layup with the defense right there:
Great adjustment in mid-air by Doncic to make that basket.
Doncic mixed it up on the glass after this block on Causeur, and Doncic is there to clean up, dunks it and draws the foul (smacked across the face):
He didn’t appreciate the slap across the face and would miss the resulting free throw. Always nice to see a Doncic dunk though…
Doncic seemed to have more of an impact in this area of the game than scoring: seven assists for Doncic and, as always, a lot more opportunities created than that.
I briefly mentioned how Barca showed off of the pick-and-roll in the second quarter — it was brief because Doncic, Felipe Reyes and Madrid, on both occasions, punished them for doing so.
Here, Barcelona extend the pressure on Doncic off of the screen made by Felipe Reyes. Reyes rolls down the empty lane and Doncic finds him for the layup and the foul:
Nice quick decision by Doncic making that pass, seemed to know exactly what he wanted to do — sometimes that kind of pressure can force you to make hasty decisions…
And the same thing happened again as Doncic and Reyes link up again as Barcelona extended the defense out of the pick-and-roll:
Barca could’ve defended this better, but it’s a difficult enough pass to make from Doncic but he pulled it off.
Elsewhere, Doncic produced this nice overhead assist to a cutting Trey Thompkins underneath the basket:
This next assist has to be one of the sickest ones Doncic has produced…
Doncic sizes up Victor Claver and downs him not once but twice with the crossover and dribble, leaving Claver in a heap as Doncic pops it off to Reyes for the assist:
Just brutal, got-damn! It’s bad enough to have someone leaning once but twice? Damn…
Elsewhere for general shot-creation, Doncic was everywhere.
This was one of my favourite plays from Doncic in this game. Cooped up on the wing faced with two defenders, Doncic finds Reyes with a simple bounce-pass but Reyes can’t convert amongst the traffic at the rim:
Such a simple looking play, liked the patience from Doncic on this possession.
Coming off of a screen, Doncic gains traction between himself and the rim, draws a crowd and kicks it out to the corner but the three from Thompkins is off:
In a scramble situation for Barcelona where the ball has broken Doncic’s way, Doncic makes the right play and finds the open Fabien Causeur for a three-point attempt and the shot is off but Thompkins is there to follow it up:
These were just a few examples, there were other attempts that Doncic set-up that his teammates couldn’t convert — Doncic would’ve easily had 10 assists in this game had a few of those good looks fallen…
Just one turnover for Doncic in this game: this bounce-pass sailing a little out of the reach of Reyes:
Very difficult pass to execute given the angle and how far Reyes is ahead of the ball — needed a higher bounce to have any hope of Reyes reaching it.
Not a lot to document here, Barcelona don’t have a lot of wing creators that would look to exploit Doncic regularly throughout a game.
There a few clips worth showing though…
Here, some really solid defense by Doncic but a case of ‘good D, better O’:
Those have to suck if you’re the defense, not much more you can do there…
In the third quarter, Doncic directs the offensive player into the path of Madrid bodies and the pass is forced:
Nothing massive by any means, just a defensive play I liked.
In closing vs. Barcelona…
Just a really good all around game from Doncic as Madrid picked up a much-needed win after losing six of their seven games (all in the absence of Gustavo Ayon).
Doncic got going in the second quarter and really took only one shot that wasn’t 100% ideal with that deep heat-check shot (which, come on, it was a heat-check) — in general, good shot selection, he picked his spots and didn’t force anything offensively.
That shot to end the third quarter is still ridiculous…
He made those around him better with those seven assists and gave them more than enough opportunities to succeed (he really should’ve finished with more than seven assists…).
A game-high PIR of 26 is a fitting reflection of Doncic’s game. He was, as he has been often this season, the best player on the floor in this game.