Top 16 Groups F and G are a dead heat with four teams sitting at 2-2, but in Groups E and H, several teams have managed to weather this season's unprecedented parity. Here's a review of the key statistics in the 7DAYS EuroCup landscape.
Although 10 teams entered Top 16 Round 4 with two wins, just four of those teams faced off in pairs. Neither of those games came in Groups F or G, where each one-victory team before Round 4 was able to win, creating the kind of standings gridlock that has never been seen before at this stage of the EuroCup. In Group H Tofas Bursa earned a 15-point win over Joventut Badalona, while in Group E, Partizan NIS Belgrade avenged a Round 3 loss to Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul.
Tofas had a stellar offensive night, scoring 1.15 points per possession while shooting 77% in half-court finishing situations. Devin Williams went 6 for 7 in those situations as Tofas opened a double-digit lead heading into halftime with a tremendous second-quarter effort. In contrast, the difference for Partizan was defense. Partizan held Darussafaka to just 0.68 points per possession and 34% shooting in half-court situations.
Top 16 Efficiency Reset
Despite their shared success, Partizan and Tofas have taken far different routes to build the Top 16's two biggest efficiency margins. The graphic below shows the four teams that have built the largest efficiency margins – points per possession scored minus points per possession allowed – through Top 16 Round 4.
After their performances in Round 4, Partizan and Tofas pace all Top 16 teams in efficiency margin, although the Serbian giants belong in a tier all their own. There is a significant drop-off after these four teams.
Although its defense was impressive against Darussafaka, Partizan has been excellent throughout the Top 16, leading all teams in efficiency by a massive margin. Even in a Round 3 loss at Darussafaka, Partizan allowed just 0.75 points per possession. Holding opposing offenses to just 27% shooting from beyond the arc in the half-court situations, and just 40% inside of it, they have done a remarkable job contesting shots in recent weeks.
Tofas, in contrast, has built its 3-1 record on the back of explosive scoring ability. Devin Williams, Tarik Phillip and Berkan Durmaz have all stepped up to propel the Turkish club to new heights. Williams and Durmaz have been steadily active inside, giving opposing defenses fits in the paint, while Phillip caught fire early to get Tofas off to its fast start.
UNICS Kazan is the only team with a 2-2 record on this list. Leading the Top 16 in points per possession, they have been nothing short of dynamic offensively. Errick McCollum and Jamar Smith have been the EuroCup's most dangerous offensive backcourt duo all season, but the addition of Jordan Theodore and the opportunistic play of Alex Tyus and Raymar Morgan has made UNICS even more formidable in the Top 16.
Joining Partizan atop Group E, Segafredo Virtus Bologna has been perhaps the EuroCup's most consistent team relative to its regular season performance. Its steady play on both ends of the floor has stood out, as has the way Virtus has cleaned up its transition defense. After allowing 15.7 points per game in transition during the regular season, Virtus has allowed just 11.2 points per game since – due in large part to a concerted effort to contest shots.
With two games remaining, it will be interesting to see if these teams can finish the job or if the unbalanced nature of the Top 16 schedule is giving them a misleading sense of momentum.
Looking Ahead to Round 5
Round 5 is stacked with high-stakes games due to parity reaching historic heights. The gap in efficiency margin between Partizan and Tofas to this point is the same difference between the fifth and 11th ranked team – a reflection of the fact that 10 teams have played to an even record. Things are especially messy in Groups F and G where every game is effectively must-win. On top of that, both sets of 3-1 teams will also face off as Partizan travels to Virtus and Tofas heads to Spain to take on Unicaja Malaga.