Barça will be able to count on the Real Madrid court this Sunday (6:30 p.m.) with the presence of its franchise player, power forward Nikola Mirotic, who has already overcome the coronavirus, confirmed this Saturday the azulgrana club.
The availability of the Hispanic-Montenegrin, who tested positive for covid-19 on Friday, January 14, depended on the latest tests carried out by the club and which were negative this Saturday.
On paper, the Barcelona team recovers with Mirotic the top scorer (15.2 points), the player who captures the most rebounds (5.9) and the one who averages the most PIR credits (17.8) of the team in the Endesa League.
But the importance of the Barça number ’33’ shirt goes much further, especially in important games, as was shown in the first European classic of the course played on December 10 at the Palau Blaugrana and that the Catalan team dominated from start to finish (93-80).
Grown up against his old team, that night Mirotic broke his personal record for PIR in the Euroleague (39 credits) and matched his scoring record (31 points) with a shooting card of 4 of 4 in two shots, 3 of 6 in triples and 14 of 15 in free throws, in addition to capturing 10 rebounds.
Barça missed the leadership and offensive contribution of the Spanish-Montenegrin in Thursday’s defeat at the Russian Unics Kazan (70-64), which was the fourth setback in the last five games among all competitions for the team he leads Lithuanian Sarunas Jasikevicius.
This drop in results contrasts with the regularity of Real Madrid, which this Thursday snatched the leadership of the Euroleague from Barça and which governs the Endesa League (16-1) with five wins and three more games than the Catalan team (11-3) , second.
Without being able to count on the injured Pierre Oriola and Álex Abrines this Sunday in Madrid, Barça is working to recover the best version of shooting guard Cory Higgins and point guard Nick Calathes, two fundamental players for Jasikevicius who have been injured for more than two months.
The American has already played five games since his reappearance and in Kazan he was Barça’s top scorer with 17 points, while the Greek-American returned on Thursday being, in the words of the Lithuanian coach, “excellent in defense” despite showing a lack of rhythm “normal” offense in a player who had been absent for so long.
Despite the recent defeats, Barça has experienced a notable defensive improvement that has allowed it to leave its last three rivals below 80 points (70-64 against Unics Kazan, 82-77 against the Turkish Anadolu Efes and 73- 75 against the Italian AX Armani Exchange Milan).
In the return of the Argentine point guard Nico Laprovittola to the WiZink Center, where he played the last two seasons, Jasikevicius’s men will have to maintain this aggressiveness especially in the paint, as they already achieved in the last head-to-head against the whites to reduce to 10 points center Walter Tavares and leave power forward Guerschon Yabusele in 8 points.
Barça, with plenty of away victories this year in the Endesa League, won six of the seven Clasicos played last season but this season the accounts are even: Real Madrid came back by 19 points to win the Endesa Super Cup in September (83-88) and Barça won the Euroleague in December (93-80).
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.