Pressure's on. The United States Men's basketball team had a chance to win their opening game, but fell apart late and lost to the French national team 83-76 on Sunday. Not that there was much margin for error to begin with, but now they have none left.
The Iranian team will be looking to pull off the upset of a lifetime. Iran lost their opening
Where to follow the game
Peacock on TV (or just use the NBC Sports App with your cable provider if you have one). Funny time start for us in the States as tip will be after 12:40 a.m. ET. To repeat, after midnight.
All clear on both sides.
How often do you see Kevin Durant not cash in good looks? KD went 4-10 from the field and wound up fouling out. He only played 20:40 and when your best player isn't out there that long, you're in trouble. Durant is one of the game’s greatest players and it’s unlikely he remains cold from the field back to back nights so for the Americans’ sake, they need KD to play like he plays for the Brooklyn Nets.
The other big scorer went cold as well. Damian Lillard went 3-10 from the field and had four turnovers for his trouble as well. You’re not gonna win if Lillard is cold and if no one else on offense can pick up for him. All of his makes came from three point range and he only attempted one shot at the rim (which he missed). For Portland, he usually takes about 24 percent of his shot attempts inside of three feet and makes almost 64 percent of those shots. Gregg Popovich and the coaching staff need to create more opportunities for Dame to drive and put pressure on opposing defenses. Once he does that, everything else will open up for his teammates.
More paint points never hurts. Team USA only had 28 points in the paint on Sunday and lost that battle to France by four points. In any basketball environment, you need to get to the basket more if your jumpers aren’t falling, and that’s something the United States will need to work on tonight. They went 10-32 from deep vs. France, and most glaringly missed a series of wide open threes late with the game in the balance. The international game is admittedly more physical, but when you get clean looks, you get clean looks and have to cash in.
Iran has one player on their roster that used to play in the NBA. Hamed Haddidi played four and a half seasons with the Grit n Grind era Memphis Grizzlies before finishing his NBA run with the Phoenix Suns. He did well against the Czechs, as he scored an efficient 15 points and all of his made field goals came in the restricted area.
But Grant is a team player who doesn’t care about stats, so seems like the perfect guy to take on the tough defensive assignments for Team USA. With Evan Fournier lighting the U.S. up, it seemed like a good time to insert a defensive stopper who isn’t worried about getting shots.
Team USA also got killed on the boards, something Jerami Grant might have been able to help, as Pop’s 3-guard lineups were ineffective on the interior.
Need everyone to help bring home the gold.
Player to watch: Jrue Holiday
One thing we can say about the players playing in Tokyo, they sure do love the game of basketball and are proud to represent their countries. Holiday (along with Bucks teammate Khris Middleton and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns) just finished up an intense NBA Finals series, hopped on a plane straight to Tokyo, and were in Sunday’s game. Holiday was the best player on the American side as he did everything he could to give the team a spark and try to bring them across the finish line.
From the Vault
The last time the USA lost an Olympic basketball game was in 2004. Hopefully this Olympics doesn't end like 04's did.
More reading: SB Nation
- U.S. Olympic Men Versus Iran Preview - USA Basketball
- Team USA men’s basketball players frustrated with head coach Gregg Popovich - Davis Lazar - New York Post
- 2020 Tokyo Olympics: USA men’s basketball team looks to bounce back vs. Iran after dropping opener - Jasmyn Wimbish - CBS Sports