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USA men’s basketball reckoning with new Olympic reality, stunning loss to France yet another ‘wake-up call’

After Crew USA lost its Olympic opener to France, 83-76, on Sunday, ESPN analyst Tim Legler posited that maybe this end result might be a “good factor” for the Individuals — that it may function a “wake-up name” as they transfer ahead of their quest for a fourth straight gold medal. Humorous factor about that: Gregg Popovich and Jayson Tatum stated the identical factor after the U.S. misplaced to Nigeria two weeks in the past in Las Vegas. 

“In a manner, I am sort of glad it occurred,” Popovich stated. “Which means nothing if we do not be taught from it. It might be an important factor on this event for us.”

“I feel that is good for us,” Tatum added. “We’re going to be taught rather a lot from movie, regroup and keep constructive.”

Seems, it wasn’t that good for the Individuals. Two days later they misplaced to Australia, doubling their variety of exhibition losses over the previous 29 years in a 48-hour span. If Crew USA hasn’t been “woken up” but, maybe we have to contemplate the chance it was by no means actually sleeping within the first place. It is simply getting beat. Plain and easy. 

It is tough to completely consider the Individuals, who’re essentially the most gifted workforce within the worldwide world by a mile, are actually placing their greatest foot ahead and nonetheless dropping. But in basketball, one matchup can neutralize, and in some instances trump, what would look to be a lopsided matchup on paper. 

Towards France, that matchup was on the inside. The Individuals performed and can proceed to play small, with Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo beginning within the entrance courtroom and subbing for one another all through the sport. The French countered for lengthy stretches with various twin-tower lineups anchored by three 7-footers in Gobert, Vincent Poirier and Moustapha Fall. 

It was throwback bully ball: offensive boards and deep publish positioning with a couple of stunning high-low feeds blended in because the U.S. bought caught switching its woefully undersized guards down low. Gobert and Fall mixed for 21 factors on 6-of-8 capturing — dunks and free throws in basic big-man deployment. 

The Individuals, in idea, need to counter opponents’ measurement with pace and capturing, however they could not persistently get into transition as a result of the French have been beating them to essential boards and scoring in their very own proper. You’ll be able to’t run for those who’re taking the ball out of bounds, and Evan Fournier and Nando de Colo (to whom the Toronto Raptors have tendering a qualifying supply every of the final six years in case he decides to make the NBA leap) made sure the Individuals needed to do loads of that with 41 mixed factors. 

As for the capturing, the U.S. shot 36 p.c from the sphere and 31 p.c from 3. If you do not get out on the break and you are not making your jumpers (a necessity when France’s measurement was closing off the paint, then enjoying small goes from a bonus to a drawback in a short time.) 

“Each workforce has to do what suits with their personnel,” Popovich stated of Crew USA’s smaller lineups. “And with our workforce having our two huge guys, Draymond [Green] and Bam Adebayo, on the market provides us lots of tempo, makes us transfer effectively, and works greatest for the mix of individuals we now have.”

The Individuals, who led by as many as 10 factors and loved an eight-point lead with 4 minutes to play, did not make a single basket during the last 4 and a half minutes because the French closed the sport with a 16-2 run. With below a minute to play, the U.S. missed an unimaginable 5 pictures on one possession, the ultimate three of which have been wide-open 3-pointers from Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday

Good on Inexperienced for not blaming the loss on a scarcity of time enjoying collectively. It is a issue, but it surely’s additionally an excuse. The Individuals have greater than sufficient expertise to compensate for any lack of chemistry. They’re by no means going to be essentially the most cohesive workforce, however they nonetheless went undefeated en path to profitable the final three gold medals (2008, 2012 and 2016). They simply should play higher. Shoot higher, significantly. 

That is what this workforce is meant to do. We’re speaking a couple of squad with Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Zach LaVine, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum and Jrue Vacation, and but solely Vacation — 18 factors on 3-of-6 3-point capturing together with his ordinary blanket protection — performed effectively on Sunday. the opposite six mixed to shoot 7 for 26 from 3. 

Durant sat for a protracted third-quarter stretch with 4 fouls (accrued by making an attempt to defend effectively above his weight class on switches) and missed all 5 of his fourth-quarter pictures. Lillard shot 3 for 10 and had extra turnovers than assists. Whereas Fournier’s function because the go-to scorer for France is evident, the Individuals are clearly struggling to determine a scoring hierarchy amongst a roster full of men was the No. 1 possibility. On Sunday, it led to overpassing and hesitancy to assault one-on-one matchups that may be attacked as a matter in fact in an NBA recreation. 

However these aren’t NBA video games. The American scorers will not be getting the contact fouls they take pleasure in within the NBA. They do not get to stem runs or chilly capturing stretches by attending to the free-throw line with ease. You earn your factors in FIBA ball. France’s protection was aggressive on the ball with measurement within the lane. It was robust sledding, and the Individuals merely could not get sufficient buckets. 

“We have been simply making an attempt too exhausting to do the fitting factor,” Lillard stated. “As an alternative of simply being who we’re — the perfect gamers within the NBA.”

It is true. These are among the greatest gamers within the NBA. However after these final two weeks, if the Individuals nonetheless have not realized that expertise benefit might be neutralized by extra cohesive groups with sufficient top-end expertise to maximise matchups, what’s yet one more wake-up name going to do?

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/information/usa-mens-basketball-reckoning-with-new-olympic-reality-stunning-loss-to-france-yet-another-wake-up-call/ | USA males’s basketball reckoning with new Olympic actuality, beautiful loss to France one more ‘wake-up name’

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