Apparently falling to Nigeria and Australia in exhibition contests did not function a sufficiently big wake-up name for the U.S. males’s basketball workforce.
France handed Workforce USA its first Olympic loss since 2004 on Sunday, defeating the Individuals 83-76 within the first sport of group play. The loss does not imply Workforce USA has been eradicated from the match — wins in opposition to Iran and the Czech Republic would put it in place to advance to the subsequent spherical — however it’s clear that Gregg Popovich’s squad must be a lot, significantly better if it desires to take residence the gold medal.
Listed below are three key takeaways from Workforce USA’s disappointing efficiency:
MORE: Highlights from France’s win over Workforce USA
Evan Fournier was the very best participant on the ground
Sure, you learn that appropriately. Fournier torched Workforce USA for 28 factors on 11-of-22 taking pictures, together with a clutch 3-pointer late within the fourth quarter that gave his workforce the lead. He went to work in opposition to nearly each defender that stood in entrance of him.
In the meantime, Workforce USA stars Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard struggled mightily. Durant landed in foul bother early and completed with solely 10 factors in 21 minutes. Lillard wanted 10 area objective makes an attempt to succeed in 11 factors and dedicated 4 turnovers.
Give Fournier credit score for shining brilliant on the Olympic stage, however Durant and Lillard being outplayed by one of many Celtics’ secondary scoring choices is inexcusable.
Workforce USA’s clutch downside resurfaced
Of their exhibition loss to Australia, the Individuals have been outscored 11-1 over the ultimate four-and-a-half minutes. It was unusual to see a roster with so many offensive weapons fail to provide when it mattered most, however that was a fluke, proper?
Nicely, it occurred once more. France outscored Workforce USA 16-2 to finish Sunday’s contest, and the taking pictures numbers in that stretch have been atrocious.
Workforce USA led 74-67 with 3:41 left within the sport, however have been outscored 16-2 by France within the ultimate 3:40 whereas taking pictures 0-of-9 from the sector. pic.twitter.com/mUjyhyktAp
— ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 25, 2021
Within the fourth quarter total, Workforce USA shot 4 of 18 from the sector (22.2 p.c) and took solely three makes an attempt within the paint. Yuck.
Whether or not it is Popovich adjusting the offense to place his gamers in higher positions to attain or these gamers merely hitting extra photographs (in all probability each), there should be enhancements on this space. Workforce USA doubtless might be challenged down the highway and discover itself in an identical scenario once more.
Jrue Vacation practically saved the day
If Vacation was exhausted from chasing round Chris Paul and Devin Booker within the NBA Finals and flying over to Tokyo after the conclusion of the collection, he actually did not present it.
The Bucks guard scored 12 of his 18 factors within the fourth quarter, serving to Workforce USA construct a seven-point lead with lower than 4 minutes to go. Whereas he could not carry the Individuals over the end line, Vacation deserves reward for bringing some much-needed vitality and depth to the ground.
Vacation competed as if a gold medal was on the road in opposition to France. Whereas Workforce USA remains to be able to making it by group play, it will be good if Vacation’s teaching workers and teammates matched his sense of urgency.