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Opinion

Team USA put on masterclass but Boomers still in hunt for first-ever medal

Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Expert
5th August, 2021
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Too much talent. Too many scoring weapons. Just, too good.

Kevin Durant led Team USA to a comfortable 19-point win over Australia and a chance to claim gold at Tokyo.

The 32-year-old Nets forward was punishing in the 97-78 victory. He finished with 23 points and had strong support from Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker who shot 20 points (13 in the second half) going 7-from-10 from the field with three triples.

It was a game Team USA were expected to win. And they did it through sheer superior shooting, defence, and overall firepower.

The Boomers led by as much as 15-points (41-26) in the second quarter, but Team USA, through Jrue Holiday attacking the rim and Durant being a supreme talent, staged a remarkable fightback to trail by only three points by half time.

And then, things got ugly.

The Boomers came out of the main break sluggish, while the Americans played a more up-tempo pace which produced a stunning 32-10 third quarter, and, ultimately killed the contest.

From the 5:17 mark in the second quarter until the end of the game, Team USA scored an incredible 71-37.

It was a deadly shooting display.

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Holiday finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, eight assists. Kris Middleton shot 11 points, going 5-from-9 from the field. Zach LaVine and Jayson Tatum both finished with nine each — LaVine went 4-from-6 from the field and Tatum shot three triples from six shots.

Before the game there were concerns over whether or not the Boomers could be competitive on the boards. Team USA crushed them 44-29, with Durant (9) Adebayo (8) and Holiday (8) combining for 25 rebounds. Jock Landale had six rebounds, the most for the Boomers.

One of the analysts observed: “You have to be perfect against the US. The Boomers were perfect for two quarters. You have to be perfect for four,” he said.

The Boomers started well. Joe Ingles popped off back-t0-back triples early. Patty Mills was making tough shots from long range. And Chris Goulding was dropping threes. At one point the Boomers had made 7-from-13 triples which opened up a sizeable lead.

But when Team USA started to gel as a team – instead of relying heavily on Durant – they flicked the switch they never looked back, outscoring the Australians 55-33 in the second half. The Boomers simply couldn’t make stops or at least couldn’t disrupt their rhythm which is a concern heading into the do-or-die Bronze medal game.

Mills top scored for the Boomers with 15 points, eight assists, five rebounds in a best on court effort for the Australians. Dante Exum had arguably his best game of the tournament with 14 points, two triples, four rebounds. Joe Ingles was well held to nine points, after scoring the first two buckets – both triples.

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The U.S. now own a 9-0 record against Australia in the Olympics.

The Boomers will have to regroup quickly as they still have a chance to create history in the Bronze medal game on Saturday against the loser of France and Slovenia. Both matchups will pose another challenge: France have some key bigs and they like to score inside, while Slovenia has Luka Doncic, a one—man powerhouse.

After a hulking loss like the semifinal, things might look uncertain and murky right now for the Boomers, but the good news is: The first-ever Olympic medal dream is still alive and up for grabs if they want it.

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