OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#281 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Jul 25, 2021 12:25 pm

1ST Q: TEAM USA 22

FRANCE 15

D to O transition, gang rebounding are keys so far. Settling for outside shots a bit too much and need to finish at the rim could be better, as well as attention to fundamentals - limiting turnovers, screens, weak side cuts - should be crisper.

2ND Q: TEAM USA 45

FRANCE 37

Again, D to O transition proves fruitful and central. Paying attention to switches and not getting caught with the smaller defender inside is something for Team USA to improve as well as paying attention to weak side and back door cuts. But overall the team D has been solid with good deflections, steals, strips, and pressure.

Team USA is being kept to the outside quite a bit and but for transition points there's not as much work for weak side cuts. There is good penetration and passing back out and ball movement so the open man is found quite well. Tatum is great in transition but his decision making with the ball - shot selection in particular - needs to be quicker, better.

Hopefully once McGee gets more acclimated he can get more minutes to put more pressure on their bigs inside who are getting seals and dunks too easily. Hopefully McGee can get Gobert into some foul trouble and force him to adjust how he plays.

Team USA can look to get mid range shots not just bombing from 3 - although the more of these that are made the better, of course. It's been a shot that has relieved some pressure when the lead was trimmed and helped Team USA stay ahead.

Attention to fundamentals got the lead up to 10 for Team USA late in the first half, but it also left a lot of points on the floor. Finishing at the rim and greater, clean pressure on both ends - earlier on the ball handler, getting to passing lanes and staying with off ball movers, as well as faster decisions with the ball will help get that double digit lead and keep it.

Making sure it starts with great energy and smart, clean play on both ends is central to a good start in the second half. Set the tone right.

3RD Q: TEAM USA 56

FRANCE 62

Team USA didn't set the tone right and it has resulted in a 14-point swing. Opponent's size and interior presence is increasingly bothering Team USA and it isn't adjusting well to it. Team USA has also gone away from what worked in the first half which was more ball movement and transition play. Team USA look the less experienced team and has lost its poise. Needs to re-establish its presence and reassert its game.

4TH Q: TEAM USA 76

FRANCE 83

Clutch play experience in international play as well as hustle plays were huge factors. Team USA fought well to get the lead back up to 7 in the final Q by passing quickly and driving before defenders could get their feet set. Holiday was central to doing this, and Team USA did very well to get fouled and get to the FT line. But after forcing a fifth team opponent foul, Team USA didn't get back to the FT line from around the seven-minute mark to about the two-minute mark. A missed opportunity for Team USA to keep putting FT pressure on its opponent.

Shot selection when Team USA was down 2 points and chose three 3 pointers all of which missed was a huge turning point. It was emblematic of how some players chose to play when Team USA was under pressure - going ISO after one or two passes. In the first half, Team USA played better team ball, and although it waned in the 3rd Q and then got its mojo back in the 4TH Q to badly outscore its opponent, decisions with the ball, settling for outside shots, turnovers, and poor foul risks (that were called for fouls) did them in. That 7-point lead swung right back against them. It wasn't just their inside presence but allowing their guards to go off. Stronger ball pressure earlier the full length of the court to prevent easier passes should be there as well as incorporating more bigs to ease pressure down low on the smaller players.

Part of it is guys not having played enough together to have go-to plays to get them back besides 3s, part of it was telegraphing the plays that were run so that they were stolen or deflected, part of it was finishing strong at the rim, part of it was getting outhustled, especially on some key D rebounds.

There's still a coming together sense with this team, and now there are a couple of days to regroup and gel better together. Hopefully this game reinforces the need for team play being the fundamental core of the team. Better decisions for the good of the team is central going forward for success.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#282 » by GREY 1769 » Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:11 pm

PRACTICE 3, 27-7-2021, Japan

Regrouping and coming together. Onwards and upwards:
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#283 » by GREY 1769 » Tue Jul 27, 2021 11:58 pm

GAME 2, 28-7-2021

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#284 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Jul 28, 2021 5:04 am

1ST Q: TEAM USA 28

IRAN 12

Well there's getting the shot a player wants, and there's generating good to great shots. I think Team USA is still settling for outside shots too much, but it is making them at a good rate. When they moved the ball it looked terrific and got defenders moving for open, easy Js, and yes, 3s.

There was some P&R action, but mostly screens and 3s. Once some subs came in there was better ball movement.

Durant is hard to read in terms of energy. Sort of within himself but you can't rely on him to make the right pass or not take the 3 when the pass is the better option. Not really hard hustle out there. Won't drive. If contested, he posts up and passes out.

Loving what Holiday and Middleton are bringing. You can tell they've been playing recently as they're ready.

Lillard settling for 3s a lot, too, but a case can be made that that's his MO on the team.

I'd rather Team USA stretch a bit and practice team play than settling into their more natural roles. The more comfort with versatility the better.

Good team D but there was some late coverage of cuts by opponents and not fighting as hard for rebounds that Team USA can clean up.

2ND Q:TEAM USA 60

IRAN 30

Well after a rather slow start, Team USA went on a 12-0 run and didn't look back.

At times the passing game peeks through, and at times the 'I'm going to get mine' takes over. Again, when the shots are going in, harder to argue against, but in terms of setting in deeper team-oriented habits, I'd rather they try to stretch outside of their regular roles. TEAM FIRST.

Dame and Bam have a great two-man screen and shot chemistry. It feels like Dame has missed more shots at the rim than from the arc. Not running out to rotate and contest a shot for a made 3 against is a cardinal sin. He got the 3 right back, but that's not the habit to instill.

Team USA is playing good D overall, getting deflections, not allowing easy drives, getting blocks, and pushing in transition. They are getting caught on P&R switches and weak side and back door cuts, so that's something to improve.

Booker's a good D rebounder.

McGee gave some good minutes. Bodied up their behemoth C as well as he could, ran the floor well, finished a transition point with a Euro step. Good for him.

Tatum continues to baffle with his on-ball decisions and getting caught late on cuts time and again (Booker got caught, too), drives awkwardly into traffic, doesn't finish well at the rim.

It's the nature of international competition to score as much as possible as points differential counts, but it's better to get those points with - AGAIN - practicing team-oriented O for instilling variety.

More cuts and passes inside for variety and practice, more cohesion among the team mates.

Hopefully we see Keldon in the second half and a greater focus on team-oriented O with better movement on and off ball and passing for good to great shots.

Most importantly, the third Q has been poor for Team USA, so maintaining a high level of competitiveness is crucial.

3RD Q: TEAM USA 82

IRAN 43

Team USA had a 44-point lead but gave up a 5-0 run to end the 3RD Q. Not good, not joking. Don't slack, don't get cute.

Tatum continues to mystify with his on ball choices. When the ball's in his hands, you can't trust it'll leave his hand.

Better D, great switches and coverage. I'd like it better if they all had their arms up and out consistently on the perimeter like Holiday has.

Some better transition play in this Q as well.

The momentum swing away from us and the energy was low to end the Q. Team USA needs to start strong, stay competitive, finish strong. Every point counts.

4TH Q: TEAM USA 120

IRAN 66

Ok, well after the lowest scoring 3RD Q, Team USA followed it with their highest of the game. It wasn't without a dip in play that Pop had to correct that carried over from the end of the 3RD Q when the opponent finished with a 5-0 run and then brought a 44-point lead down to 37. Whistle. Better energy, better team play.

True Team USA had a lot of time to take shots, and the pace was preferable to get their collective game going, but this is only the SECOND game that the actual full team has played together, with so many new players needing to use the time to gel and that's what they did.

Pop put out a new starting five in this game and it took some time for them get some semblance of team play going. It's a matter of trust, of learning tendencies, of playing off one another, and I though as more players were blended together and woven into any given five-man unit that the team play got better.

The main point is that versatility in plugging in whoever to play a role and execute. To that end, I thought the 4TH Q there was better passing and synergy and started on the D end. Terrific switching, solid rebounding, and they got more drives in the final Q as well. The D adjusted to get to better read the plays, to better get to positions and prevent the back door passes.

Keldon was attentive on D - man, D, ball, head on a swivel - and actually had to switch onto their behemoth of a C who post Keldon up but didn't drive on him, bless his heart. On O Keldon passed a head quickly, ran in transition, drove, dunked aaaaaah! and made his FTs. A good showing in the final five or so minutes of the game.

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Tatum played as he got more minutes. He's a rhythm player and needs to settle in, but definitely better off the bench because there isn't as much time in the international game to get going. He got better in giving up the ball and in passing it out he got it back, too.

Loving the Dame-Pop respect and communication. Loving the guys playing more for one another, and loving that it's coming from D out. When you see Holiday get after it on D on every play, it puts everyone else on notice to step up.

All the players on Team USA scored but I thought that the final two plays of ball pressure for a steal, pass ahead and dunk, followed by another steal to prevent the opponent's final two possessions and keep the lead over 50 was a good sign.

This game and the score were really needed. There's lots of work to do in terms of chemistry, but the three newest arrivals are doing a great job not only fitting in well but also having the effect of grounding the team in the best sense of the word, in terms of the team coming together around the gravity of cohesiveness that they exude with their steady, selfless, D-first, team-first play.

A much better effort. A couple of days to keep working on team cohesion, and keep the competitive spirit high.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#285 » by GREY 1769 » Sat Jul 31, 2021 3:45 am

GAME 3, 31-7-2021

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#286 » by GREY 1769 » Sat Jul 31, 2021 12:21 pm

1ST Q: TEAM USA 18

CZECH REPUBLIC 25

2ND Q: TEAM USA 47

CZECH REPUBLIC 43

Big 17-point swing until Czechs hit a late 3. Team USA plays better when the PASS THE BLOODY BALL. A lot of the ISO or one and done is from Durant. Not sure what his problem is, but he seems to be ignoring what Pop is actually instructing. He hits a couple of 3s and well, good shot, but then ISOitis trickles down to other players and a 6 or 7-point lead gets cut into rather than built on because Team USA settle for outside shot after outside shot.

MOVE THE BALL, GET DEFENDERS MOVING, OPEN SPACE GET IT INSIDE. KEEP PUSHING FOR GOOD TO GREAT MADE SHOTS!

Czechs are running back on D so transition points are hard to come by, but Team USA improved the intensity defensively, got stops and steals, forced shot clock violations, and this D-out changed the energy of the team.

There still needs to be a more forceful push in transition rather than trotting down the court after gaining possession, but hopefully with their legs under them after a better 2ND Q, Team USA can impose its game.

Team USA must pay attention to weak side rebounding on D to prevent putbacks, and not sag as much on Czech mid range shots. But much better man D, good switching and communication overall in the 2ND Q.

Team USA MUST set the tone to start this Q with continued and increasing imposition of its best team game on both ends.

3RD Q: TEAM USA 82

CZECH REPUBLIC 60

When Durant decides to play on both ends AND share the ball he's the best player in the world. He's been terrific and really set the tone. Great hard D, it opened up the court and some transition points as well. Better passing, more physicality, better pace, and increased intensity. Now keep it up till the end of the game.

4TH Q: TEAM USA 119

CZECH REPUBLIC 84

Much much better team effort, and the best is that it increased and improved as the game progressed. Slow start in the 1ST Q with better, more physical D, and despite some ISOitis the passing improved as well. My sense is that individual star players want and take some time to warm up, get their shots off, and then once their games are going more of the team game emerges as they pass more and look to get others involved more. That Durant rebound and full court pass to Tatum was beautiful.

Durant and Tatum were overall exceptional and kept Team USA in it with D by Tatum early, then Durant with good coverage and blocks and rebounds, and clutch shots to tame the lead. Whereas Durant started more ISO then passed better, Tatum I thought took too many shots late in the game. You've got team mates who haven't played all game. And McGee did very well on both ends with his limited minutes; the P&R game for the big was there for the exploiting. I had hoped that Keldon could get a shot or two. He was open, but Tatum was going all hero mode.

Can't blame him as he had the hot hand. He's a rhythm player and needs touches to get going and when he does, look out. I like him very much. He's so personable. And his game is beautiful to watch. The next step in its evolution is getting others more involved, and shot selection.

I loved the defensive intensity, and I loved that Pop insisted on finishing strong in the final few minutes of the game, to not let up, to keep up the pressure. And sure enough there was full court ball pressure, there was high contesting to prevent open 3s, there was fighting to front opponent bigs to prevent easy passes inside.

The huge advantage of course is when one player doesn't have his shot there are several other go-to weapons. But truly that Pop has Team USA buying in and locking in defensively is a big step forward toward team cohesion and flow of energy on O. They seem to be gelling better as the game progresses on O and the passing and different looks really opened up.

Moving forward, a more focused, energized and cohesive start should be a priority, as well as paying more attention to weak side and especially back door cuts. But the hard, physical team D and more integrated O are big positives. There was some beautiful off-ball movement and passing for finding the good to great shots, the effort on both ends made all the difference.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#287 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Aug 1, 2021 11:56 pm

QUARTERFINALS GAME, 3-8-2021

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Team USA give it the best D-out, team-oriented, consistently competitive smarts, heart, and hustle for the whole game.

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#288 » by GREY 1769 » Tue Aug 3, 2021 5:02 am

1ST Q: TEAM USA 19

SPAIN 21

Team USA had a seven-point lead but allowed a 9-0 run by the opponent to take the late lead. Team USA had its chances to build its lead, but once again with a lead it settled for 3s. To its credit, it generated those 3s with great ball movement, but there are openings inside that are yet to be exploited.

I like that Team USA used the short left corner as a set up for passing to cutters. There were some points left on the floor so missed bunnies need to be cured with sure dunks.

On the D end, just being careful about switches and cuts and tricky passes inside are what Team USA need to pay attention to.

Also, Team USA need to focus on crisp intentional passes to deflections or traps.

Good transition points, good passing, good D, just don't settle for outside shots too much. Good to great made shots!

2ND Q: TEAM USA 43

SPAIN 43

At one point down 9 bothered by the height of the opponent's bigs and putbacks, Team USA did really well to get some back door cuts, drives, wonderful passing and open dunks and layups inside. There is lots more to exploit here. It's great to see Team USA not settling for the 3, especially considering it's not dropping yet. And so on the strength of shadow, physical D and timely strips, Team USA is getting deflections and steals and points in transition.

Team USA is utilizing its speed not only in transition but in off ball movement and deliberate quick passing to exploit the slower rotations.

Not backing down form being bullied, Team USA stormed back to tie the game with great D, great ball movement, and smart, quick choices with the ball.

Now Team USA must focus all the more on the pockets of space where the ball is passed, on all the cuts around screens, on boxing out for D rebounds, and on smart, decisive, strong team play: great ball movement, great makes, great heart and hustle. Build the 14-4 run to finish the 2ND Q, use it as a catapult energy into the second half. Come out strong and stay resilient in the second half!

3RD Q: TEAM USA 69

SPAIN 63

Based on a 22-6 run, Team USA blazed out in the 3RD Q to take a commanding 15-point lead, but took the foot off the pedal a bit in the last couple of minutes to have a 6-point lead at the end of the 3RD Q.

Tremendous awareness and physicality on D, great team play, assertive passing, good ball protection was evident throughout the Q.

Need solid D, need smart poised play, need all heart and hustle, need good to great shots generated and made to maintain the lead till the end of the game Team USA.

4TH Q: TEAM USA 95

SPAIN 81

A terrific TEAM effort to keep the lead when the opponent made a push to chip away at another 15-point lead down to 6. But then, as in weaves throughout the entire game, Kevin Durant happened. He was just a different level of engaged in this game -- not settling for only outside shots for too long but running ahead, cutting driving, passing, and defending so well. The final basket of the game for Team USA was from a Durant block of a 3 and then running ahead to take the pass in transition for an emphatic dunk, one of several he had in this game.

He was absolutely disciplined and disruptive on D, made all the right plays at the right times. Just a stunning performance. I'm still in awe of just how good at basketball he is. A savant. And in this game, a totally engaged one - he was locked in looking at the diagrams Pop was drawing up in the timeout huddles, he was pumping his fists when Team USA made a great play, he was falling to the floor for the loose ball to save the possession, high-fiving team mates. Huge huge props to him. Just brought and sustained a whole higher level and took Team USA along with him.

Although the first half was a tough go shooting wise from the arc, Team USA didn't settle for it and moved the ball so much better in the second half. Spurred by stingy, physical, smart D, Team USA was resilient to withstand increased physicality and pace, withstood a scoring run, and counter-punched very with improving off-ball movement and crisp, purposeful passing, finished off with some clutch shots. But the outside shots started falling after Team USA broke down opponent D with some great cuts, no look passes, and better finishes at the rim.

Pop was very animated on the sidelines, especially in the second half, especially on D. You could hear him yelling out instructions and guys communicating loudly on D. Whereas in previous games some assistant coaches would draw up plays, Pop took the helm throughout in this game, and every player was attentive and locked in. Some timeouts, like when Team USA was down, had Pop kneeling on one knee and delivering a resounding play-better speech peppered with some colourful language. And it worked. Cue the comeback that resulted in a tie game at the half. Here the intensity and focus was raised all the more. The set plays out of timeouts were wonderfully drawn up and executed. The D intensified. The cohesion and team chemistry synthesized for selfless play balanced with the right attack.

International teams have the big advantages of being used to international rules, of playing together in a system, of international reffing. They're crafty with set plays and team play. And Team USA was tested with all of them and came through to earn the win. Going forward, Team USA has to be careful about giving away leads with settling for outside shots, with set out of bounds plays by opponents where cutters go behind screens down the middle of the key of leaking out to the corner for quick layups and shots, and remembering that the ball is live and up for play as soon as it touches the ball.

Finishing with reverse layups will help prevent blocks, and gang rebounding - which was far more evident in the second half, and paying attention to those crafty cuts to disrupt passes will help in future games.

It was very classy of Spain to hold the final possession without shooting and it was great to see the wonderful sportsmanship after the game between the two teams after the game.

Better poise, great heart, wonderful adjustments, terrific resilience, and a variety of players stepping up. Led by Durant, Tatum, Zach, Draymond, Booker, Holiday and everyone else in Pop's tight nine-man rotation who played made key stops and shots. Selfless basketball, lethal weapons, pushing through with great D. Very solid win. Very solid foundation to build on going forward.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#289 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Aug 4, 2021 10:15 pm

SEMIFINALS GAME, 5-8-2021

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#290 » by GREY 1769 » Thu Aug 5, 2021 4:43 am

1ST Q: TEAM USA 18

AUSTRALIA 24

Team USA was down by I think 7 or 8 but brought it to within 3 late in the Q until and end of Q 3 was hit to bring up the lead. Solid D by Team USA kept them in it until the shots started falling. Breaking down zone D is one thing to quickly figure out. But it's encouraging Team USA didn't settle for only outside shots - many of which were not falling, even the bunnies off the glass up close - and drove to the basket when they saw a sliver of light.

Team USA feels like it's taken a feeling out process in the 1ST Q and took a slower deliberate approach. Team USA needs up the tempo but play clean tough D, needs to move off ball more and move the ball with more crisp purpose to open lanes and good to great made shots.

2ND Q: TEAM USA 42

AUSTRALIA 45

Team USA took a punch and went down 15 points but settled into reading the opponent better, adjusted well, and stormed back in the latter half of the 2ND Q to cut it to within 3 points. Considering the poor early shooting and deficit, the 14-4 run to close the gap and get momentum back is important.

Team USA kept passed better, kept looking for opportunities to cut, pass, and drive inside, and got some important O rebounds to retain possession and score on second chances.

On D Team USA weathered the frenetic pace of the opponents and ended up increasing its own pace to push its transition game and cut into the lead.

Not settling for outside shots, better ball movement, and overcoming the deficit have been central in the comeback. Sometimes when you get down a lot quickly there's a tendency to be a bit shocked but Team USA didn't stay in that state for long.

The come back started on the D end. Team USA rotated far better, recognized and switched better, and prevented the passes inside and blocked drives.

Contesting the 3 is important in the second half, as is increasing the focused intensity, crisp and purposeful passing for good to great made shots, and defending with speed, smarts, and clean physicality to get its transition game going.

Coming out strong and imposing its game to take the lead and increase is with consistent and intense competitiveness - winning the hustle plays, maintaining poise, grabbing the rebounds, and going after every ball making every play count - is crucial in the second half for Team USA.

3RD Q: TEAM USA 74

AUSTRALIA 55

Huge turnaround from adjustments, from stingy physical and intelligently switching D, and from pushing the ball and creating and making good to great shots. The central focus in the final Q is consistent competitiveness, alert clean physical D, and keeping up the pace and best team play to maintain the lead till the end of the game by Team USA.

4TH Q: TEAM USA 97

AUSTRALIA 78

A 34-point turnaround when reading about it word by word seems like a snap of the finger and cue the next scene with the lead. But truly it had to do with a run to end the second half, it had to do with a defensive adjustment by Pop at halftime, it had to do with increased intensity in less time by the players on Team USA, it had to do with increased, focused, smart, clean, physical D intensity, and it had to do with great team play that really came together all the more as the game progressed.

Durant spoke about Pop's half time defensive adjustments that got the Team USA not only maintaining the momentum from the end of the first half to take over at the start of the second as well as maintaining it throughout the rest of the game.

Yes the outside shots fell now, but they were also created from ball movement which came from resolute defensive play which pushed the D to O transition and great ball movement that spurred the good to great made shots.

Team USA weathered a strong early push from Australia and it was not only the on-court adjustments that they executed well but also the mental ones. It's not easy to fight from a 15-point deficit when the game is shorter by two minutes each Q and against a team that has been preparing its game plan for a very long time.

Credit where its due with respect to the adjustments, the execution, and the mental fortitude and heart to not only get back from a big deficit but also take over the game by imposing its own.

In addition to whatever the film will show, the main adjustment for the next game is to have a more cohesive start so as to have the requisite energy, poise, focus, smarts, heart, and create good to great made shots from excellent, physical, clean team D. Summed up, a full team effort from Team USA going forward.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#291 » by GREY 1769 » Fri Aug 6, 2021 7:55 pm

FINALS GAME, 6-8-2021

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Focus, team play, consistent competitiveness, tough clean physical D, good to great made shots are central for Team USA.

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#292 » by GREY 1769 » Sat Aug 7, 2021 2:52 am

1ST Q: TEAM USA 22

FRANCE 18

Great defense with quick switches, clean physicality, gang rebounding by Team USA. The 3s are there for the taking, but in the meantime, Team USA has looked for the mid range and drives to good success.

2ND Q: TEAM USA 44

FRANCE 39

A strong 12-point lead by Team USA was built on rhythm, stingy and smart and physical D with some very solid team D rebounding, and good to great made shots. Towards the end of the 2ND Q the opponents resorted to the dump inside to the big strategy. Team USA has to get back to imposing its game with tough, physical but CLEAN D, pushing the ball in transition and getting to the foul line and making FTs and creating and making good to great shots. It's about raising the level of intensity and competitiveness with poise, trust, effort, heart, and execution on both ends by Team USA.

3RD Q: TEAM USA 71

FRANCE 63

A big 13-point lead was trimmed late by the opponent, but it was still a solid push forward by Team USA to get ahead more. Team USA has to dig deep for another level of locked in clean and physical D, dig deep of imposing its transition game, dig deep of another level of competitiveness, dig deep for BBIQ intelligence and poise for clean, physical D and good to great made shots. The central key is to stay ultra competitive, to play poised, to impose its transition game for great clean D and good to great made shots by Team USA.

4TH Q: TEAM USA 87

FRANCE 82

Allez!!!!

The GOLD comes home for the fourth consecutive time!

SO many impressions! The first thought is about how Team USA had a bigger lead after each of the first and second Qs in the preliminary game and how France came back. But since that game featured three KEY players - a third of the roster and TWO starters - who had just arrived after the NBA finals meant they were jet lagged and just inserted into the roster, Team USA gelled from then on going forward.

From that game onward, Team USA has been nothing if not on point. The 3RD Qs in particular were like a switch. I don't know what Pop said in them, but Team USA certainly was activated time and again to get a bigger lead.

It was a 14-point lead at one point that was brought down to I thin 7 or 6, then to withing 3 late in the game, but that double digit lead, once it was attained by Team USA was never relinquished.

It was a hug TEAM effort, and though the pattern of early 3s taken was also a pattern of early 3s missed, Team USA didn't settle for them like before. Now that players were more used to one another and the plays to be run, they moved off ball, they moved the ball more than previously, but the foundation was excellent man and help D throughout the game, a hallmark of a Pop team.

Kevin Durant is the best basketball player in the world. This would not have been possible without him. Then again, he gave praise to Pop for last game's half time defensive adjustments that enabled Team USA to have a chance at the Gold Medal in this game. And after winning the Gold Medal, Kevin Durant had this to say:



There's a LOT of SM posters with blue check marks that are awfully silent tonight. If you're going to say crap about Team USA and Pop, you should also give appropriate praise where it's due. And it's BLOODY WELL LONG OVERDUE:

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This journey was the longest for Pop than anyone else on the roster. Forty-nine years, in fact. FORTY-NINE YEARS:

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CONGRATULATIONS TO TEAM USA ON WINNING THE GOLD MEDAL IN BASKETBALL!!!!!!!

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#293 » by Fundamentals21 » Sat Aug 7, 2021 5:48 pm

49 Years. Wow. Pop's endured so much, in spite of being one of the GOAT coaches in the game. Unreal.

Congrats to Team USA! Everyone was unreal in the France game, though France did make it very close for us. The international stage is bright and shows some serious promise.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#294 » by GREY 1769 » Tue Aug 10, 2021 9:34 am

Would've posted earlier but had some computer issues. Anyway it gave me some time to take this Team USA journey in. It really was the most difficult one, the least sure coming in, and the most satisfying because of it.

There was some controversy with naming Pop to the helm of Team USA to begin with (I'll add the article detailing it in a bit). But by 2016 the air was cleared and the path opened to Pop being named as the coach of Team USA.

Before Pop took over, the tweets above and Tom Orsborn's article detail the challenges and disappointments that came along the way to complete the aforementioned 49-year journey.

From 2016 onward, there were personal, Spurs, and national contexts that overlapped to further strain Pop and Team USA. 2018 was an annus horribilis as the Spurs were forced into a pivot trade and Pop endured the most difficult of losses. Yet there he was three months later in Las Vegas with the newest Spur for Team USA practices.

That several players showed up to watch rather than participate was a harbinger of the challenges ahead in getting a consistent group of players to keep their commitments to the national team. And so at every step along the way the roster was different.

It didn't help that FIBA changed World Cup scheduling so that it was now in the summer just before the Olympics one year after another. And so a lot of star players dropped out of playing for Team USA in China in the summer of 2019. Worse still was that several had already committed to playing before backing out. Add to it that one of the key players who had actually kept his commitment, Kuzma, got injured and was replaced by Derrick from the select team. So it was an ongoing turnstile or moving pieces right up until the team left for China.

And early in the tournament, Tatum, arguably Team USA's best player (at the very least a crucial, reliable secondary scorer) got injured after playing only two games. Team USA's pursuit of a world championship was ended by the French team, but they still won enough to qualify for the Olympics.

A lot of ink was spilled criticizing the team that was assembled but less so about the options that were left to choose from and why, criticizing the result but less so about the challenges that led to it, and the qualification itself was relegated to almost a mere consolation prize, as if bypassing the extra step that several other good national teams had to endure was insignificant. It was seen as the least Team USA could possibly do, and a lot of criticism fell at the feet of Pop and the selection committee as if any collection of American players is supposed to magically gel and blow any international opponent away, a mentality and expectation carried over from an era when international teams didn't stand up nearly as well and this was no longer a reality.

After the World Cup, some international teams smelled blood, others flexed.

And so the pressure mounted all the more. Even though the best player in the world committed, and even though Durant was joined by a strong collection of NBA talent, a lot of them are the scoring leaders on their respective teams, and front court size was deemed a weakness. once again waves of challenges piled on and threatened to derail early budding chemistry and roster balance. A Covid-induced substitution and a late withdrawal from a player who actually asked to be on the bloody team (you'd think he'd know if he were ready, right? Like why try to use Team USA as exposure? Still, Love had Olympic experience and those new to it benefited from taking in whatever knowledge was imparted).

Add to these changes the fact that Team USA was still waiting on the arrival of three players (a quarter of the team!) from the NBA Finals as well as a couple of exhibition losses and the scrutiny on Pop, the selection committee, and the team grew from louder to doubtful of success to early conclusions about its predicted demise. It reached a crescendo when Team USA lost its first preliminary game, once again to France.

This was the first game with the three finalists while the team itself was still adjusting and growing with one another. It takes time given that Team USA had only four practices before its first exhibition game - a schedule compressed due to Covid - and only four exhibition games before the preliminaries in Japan. But this was met with that old mentality of 'win everything at the drop of a hat!' or else it's doomed to fail. And it's not that evaluation has to be positive when the results or they were achieved weren't. But unrealistic expectations and almost fervent desperation to unload a lot of pent up unrelated venom at Pop and Team USA skewed a clearer perspective about the team's growing pains.

That preliminary loss to France resulted on a players-only meeting which somehow turned into tweets and articles about the players being upset with Pop about having to use the Spurs O system. When did Pop ever insist on half the shots taken being 3s?! But regardless of whatever criticism was swirling outside the team, this game was a turning point.

With each subsequent game, Team USA looked better, starting with settling on its main nine-man rotations, to improving stingy physical switch-oriented D, to players accepting their roles. Two of the three NBA finalists were inserted into the starting line-up as Pop settled into a three guard unit along with Durant and Bam to maximize Team USA's strengths. Dame started games but often did not end them for defensive purposes. And as trust built and player tendencies became familiar, there was less ISO to start games, more team play, and consistent D throughout.

Ever since that first preliminary loss in which Team USA couldn't sustain a lead and gave it up late - in this case a seven-point lead with around three or so minutes to go - it flipped a switch in second half of every subsequent game.

Iran was a good reset game to re-establish the core principles and then they were instilled versus a motivated Czech Republic. Then the draws put Team USA into the tougher elimination round bracket, facing two teams that each had their own goals and spoke openly about the prospect of beating Team USA and what it would mean to reach them after having done so. Team USA had defeated Spain in one of the exhibition games, but Spain was the defending world champion having won the World Cup in China. It was a team filled with experienced NBA and non-NBA players on the international stage who have played together for a long time. Australia's Boomers was a team on a Mission. Having once again defeated Team USA in an exhibition game (the first time was during friendlies in preparation for the World Cup and it both started the intense criticism and pressure on Team USA and talk of Australia as one of the next up and coming teams that could make serious noise). Patty had been posting individual and team workout and practice videos for weeks. They were undefeated coming into this game and they had a momentum edge in head-to-head matches versus Team USA. But in both the quarter and semifinals, Team USA used the first half to adjust to the opponents and take their best punches and then come out in the third quarters firing on all cylinders for commanding leads that were kept till the end of the game.

This set up a finals match that couldn't have been scripted better or more dramatically. France, the team that eliminated Team USA from World Cup contention in 2019, the team that defeated Team USA in its first preliminary game, the team that was coming into the finals undefeated filled with eight NBA players, an established team concept, and brimming with confidence, so much so that one member declared before the game that it would be amazing when France won its first gold medal in basketball.

Now, I'm a superstitious fan. Whatever I was wearing and drinking when Team USA went on a winning streak is what I continued to wear and drink. Best to pay obeisance to fickle basketball gods. There's confidence, and then there's Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot declaring victory before a second of the game had been played.

Tsk tsk tsk...

With each game Team USA learned and improved. In the previous two elimination games, Team USA got into deficits in the first half before exploding in the third quarters to break open the game. They knew they couldn't tempt fate a third time. And although France got a lead in some points in the game, Team USA won each of the quarters this time around when it mattered most.

Think about the full circle moments here: Team USA had previously faced roster challenges, late changes to it, short amounts of practice times and defeats that garnered international attention, national criticism, and intense pressure. The World Cup result was considered a blemish despite Team USA qualifying for the Olympics. But had it not been for all of these experiences - all of which were mirrored in the run up to the Olympics - perhaps Team USA would not have been as prepared to take the hits and weather them in the most intense scrutiny of the Games.

Team USA faced a truncated schedule before the World Cup and because of Covid and an altered, tight NBA schedule, a truncated practice schedule before the Olympics. But had it not been for Covid, the Olympics would not have been pushed back a year, and the chances of the best of the best American NBA players being available and willing would have been greatly reduced. LBJ, AD, and Bam were just coming off NBA finals. If LBJ and AD didn't commit this year when they were eliminated earlier, how much less would the chances have been last year? Perhaps several of the other players that were the team for these Olympics would have been last year, but it certainly wouldn't have included Kevin Durant who was still recovering from a serious injury. So while the World Cup experience prepared Team USA brass in dealing with fluctuations and last minute changes, Covid both exacerbated and relieved some of these factors.

While France was waiting for Team USA, Team USA was also waiting for France. There was some pent up unfinished business. Before the first preliminary game, Pop said he had thought about facing France every day for two years. But that loss, despite not fulfilling the two year preoccupation, nevertheless marked a turning point. The players knew they needed to start crisp and strong; they knew they had to counterpunch and impose their strengths better and so France traded its interior 2s game for Team USA's 3s and D to O transition game; they knew they had to keep a lead late.

Wouldn't you know it, Team USA once again found itself up seven points with just around three minutes left in the game! Again, you couldn't script it better. But all the adversity, all the challenges that forced a team meeting, that turned into more trust and an increasingly team-oriented game centered around some incredible team defense - that is the Hallmark of a Pop-led team - enabled Team USA to keep its poise this time, when it mattered most, because it had been tested more than any other previous Team USA given all of the circumstances that led up to it. The challenge was bigger, the challengers stronger, and the delayed victory that much sweeter.

At the center of it was Pop who was essentially running two teams simultaneously since 2016. Every now and again he would be asked about his Olympics responsibilities in a post-game scrum and he repeatedly said he thought about it every day. Think about the immense and mounting pressure of navigating both teams through the weird and unprecedented circumstances of the 2017-18 NBA season; of staying committed through then some deeply personal grief; of regrouping after a tough World Cup result; of dealing with the the huge prospect of the Olympics potentially not happening at all after being delayed a year which would have been a monumental let down after 49 years of waiting; of leading both teams through vast changes in a short time while staying true to principles that got him here from the very beginning (see Tom Orsborn's article tweet a couple of posts above). Was there a better coach for the guidance and the moment to meet and be fulfilled at last? In a post-game interview Pop said this was the most responsibility he ever felt in his life, that he'd pour over every possibility versus a given opponent, that he felt just lighter now. He looked as relieved as he did satisfied.

But the sacrifice was also made by the players who once again had to play through Covid restrictions without fans; who gave up bigger roles they were used to for more focused ones on Team USA because it's what the team needed; who played through adversity, criticism, and a steep learning curve while having a target on their backs; who played through injuries; who left newborns at home for the opportunity of Olympic glory.

Some say oh well Team USA couldn't have done it without Durant. Really? What's the criticism here? Where would the team be without its best weapon? Where would Slovenia be without Luka or the Boomers without Patty or France without its defensive player of the year, Gobert, backed by an even taller C? Others say oh well Team USA 'only won by 5'. Well France the undefeated, experienced, confident team filled with NBA talent 'only won by 1' in the semis. I didn't hear any criticism about that but instead a lot of commentary about what a good, competitive game it was.

Clearly throughout the entire process Team USA has been held to a different standard, one that was both no longer reflective of the reality of the level of competition and one that was used to justify all kinds of peripheral or even unrelated hit pieces; idols and ideals are built to tear down. It turns out in persevering to win what was the most challenging Gold Medal, Team USA tore down some notions about it and international teams instead, putting lazy media takes on notice, and forever claiming its place with the right group and the right coach and the right leadership to get there. It's the most earned Gold Medal and means all the more for it.
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#295 » by GREY 1769 » Tue Aug 10, 2021 10:14 am

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#296 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Sep 8, 2021 5:15 am

I could've sworn I posted these before but was reminded by this tweet to add them:
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How it started:
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#297 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Sep 8, 2021 5:50 am

How things progressed. JaVale v-blogged his Olympic experience and provided some behind-the-scenes footage:







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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#298 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Sep 8, 2021 6:33 am

A lot of 'experts' talked a lot of **** and opponents ran ahead of themselves declaring their arrival after... exhibition games. While Pop kept reminding reporters that the world teams have been getting stronger, bridging the gap, and deserve respect, seems like some of the players on those teams forgot the same respect for Team USA. Receipts collected; credit where due given:

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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#299 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Sep 8, 2021 6:58 am

That fourth video by JaVale above contains a post-Gold winning-game speech by Pop.

"I can honestly say this was the best feeling I've ever had in basketball." Then ends with a classic firecracker punch back to all the naysayers:
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Defense! wins championships and Gold medals:
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More memories tomorrow...
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Re: OT: 2018-2020 USA Basketball Men's National Team - 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics Updated Schedule, Page 13 

Post#300 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:11 am

"Tomorrow..."

How it finished:





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