Giannis vs. USA was built up as USA possibly staring defeat in the eye again. Instead, the defense went to another level, Giannis was mostly held in check, and USA took control in the first quarter and never looked back.
Giannis got off to a quick start scoring his first 7 points within the first few minutes. After that, USA really did a great job following the Brazil blueprint. They guarded him closely, kept the weak side ready to collapse in the event of a move to the basket, and essentially dared anyone else to beat them. Marcus Smart really stood out above the rest:
After his initial 7 point burst, Giannis only scored 8 points in the rest of the game and was mysteriously benched in the 4th quarter. His final tally looked good (15 points, 13 rebounds), but he had no assists, highlighting his lack of ability to get himself or anyone else going.
USA small-ball starts again
Rather than going super big to pack the paint against Giannis, USA flipped the switch and went small where they could have more speed to get after shooters. Due to the fact that USA has the greatest collection of athletic talent in the country, they were confident in their ability to play small and handle Greece bigs. Jaylen Brown and Harrison Barnes were the frontcourt of choice and the duo combined for 17 points, 16 rebounds and were 50% from inside the arc. With the increased speed on the perimeter, USA was also able to fly out on the perimeter and contest Greece shooters even while collapsing on Giannis. Greece ended up shooting 31.8% from the field including 25.9% from three (7/27).
USA offense still a work in progress
The good? USA took 30 of its 66 shots from three and 15 of their 24 FGM were assisted.
The bad? USA shot 23.3% on those 30 attempts and overall shot 36.4% from the field. In reality, USA could have easily won this game by 30+ with just an average shooting performance but simply just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.
This has been a consistent theme for the USA, but the reasons are different. The ball-moving, reads, are improving but the results just haven’t come with it yet. Wouldn’t be surprised if it all came together in the near future.
- Kemba Walker continued to be all-around presence posting 15 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and was a team-leading +17.
- Despite playing small, USA crushed Greece on the boards, 50-40. Giannis was the only member of Greece who had more than 5 boards while 4 members from USA were able to do it.
- With a win today, USA officially punched its ticket to the quarterfinals. Greece will need to beat Czech Republic by 12 or more and will need USA to beat Brazil in order to advance.