Less than a week after losing to France, it appears as if Team USA has gotten their shit together.
The Americans smacked the Czech Republic men’s basketball squad, 119-84, to close group play in the Olympics, assuring their place in the knockout stage —but more importantly, in Pot D. We’ll get to that in a minute.
The Czech Republic actually led Team USA by the end of the first quarter 25-18. “Here we go again” probably thought many Team USA skeptics watching Tomáš Satoranský and crew take it to the Americans. And then they outscored the Czech Republic 29-18 in the second quarter, leading 47-43 at halftime. But it was clear that Team USA figured something out offensively because of the tear they embarked on in the second half. Between the third and fourth quarters, they outpaced the Czech Republic 72-41 in the second half, winning by 35 points.
Kevin Durant, who netted 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting, became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer in the game, passing three-time Gold Medalist Carmelo Anthony. Durant also added eight rebounds and six assists. However, it was Jayson Tatum, who came off the bench, who actually paced Team USA’s offense with a game-high 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including 5-for-10 makes from three.
Because of their loss to France, and France subsequently going undefeated in the group stage by defeating Iran and the Czech Republic, Team USA closes second in group play. However, they’ve put together the largest margin of victory of every team in the opening round by being a +82 over their opponents, ensuring them fourth place of the eight teams advancing.
France is first overall, having gone 3-0 and coming away with a +44 margin, followed by Australia. The winner of Spain and Slovenia later today will determine who is in third place, and will join France, Australia, and USA in Pot D. The lower four teams, Italy, Germany, the loser of Slovenia and Spain, and the winner between Argentina and Japan, both of whom are winless in group play, will comprise Pot E. The match-ups will be selected, pairing one squad from Pot D vs. one from Pot E in every match-up (hence, nice to be the former, not the latter).
The knockout stage will begin on August 3 and culminate on August 7.