At the Mall of Asia Arena, the USA defeated Greece by a score of 109-81, moving their record in the Group Phase of the 2023 FIBA World Cup to 2-0.
The United States of America will play their final game of the first round versus Jordan on Wednesday at 4:40 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (ESPN2) in order to determine whether or not they will move to the second round of the Group Phase.
The following are five things that jumped out to me during the game on Monday.
Reaves, deliver once more on the bench unit
For the second game in a row, Team USA’s bench supplied them with the much-needed energy they needed. After falling behind by 10 points just four minutes into their match against New Zealand on Saturday, the reserves were able to get things back on track and bring the game back within striking distance. The starting lineup of the United States of America’s game against Greece played their opponents nearly even until the bench stepped in and gave the team a double-digit lead that they did not give up. The bench scorers for the United States of America contributed 60 points, compared to the starters’ 49 points.
While just playing for 17 minutes, Reaves displayed every part of his game by leading the team in scoring with 15 points, grabbing five rebounds, and dishing out six assists. He found open teammates while pushing the ball in transition, and he found ways to draw fouls with hesitation dribbles and his shifty movements on the perimeter. He made a great Eurostep move for a layup that garnered a large crowd reaction. He found open teammates while pushing the ball in transition.
As soon as Reaves set foot on the court, he was a magnet for physical contact, and he was fouled on each of the first three possessions he had in the game. At the end of the game, he was perfect from the free throw line, making all six of his attempts.
Then there is Paolo Banchero, who once again excelled as a small-ball five, ending the game with eight points and three rebounds in just 14 minutes of action.
Josh Hart was picking up rebounds the entire game while Banchero and Reaves were building up fouls on the Greek defenders. Banchero and Reaves were fouled by the Greek defenders. He finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, including five offensive, as the Americans finished the game with a 40-25 advantage in the rebounding battle over the Greeks.
usa excels at the free-throw line
In addition to Reaves and Banchero each making six free shots, the United States team spent the whole game making a procession to the foul line.
They concluded the evening 30-for-34, with Banchero and Walker Kessler being the only players to make only some of their shots. Before Banchero scored a pair of free throws with 2 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Team USA had made their first 22 attempts at the foul line.
The United States has shot 83.6 percent from the free throw line through the first two games of the Group Phase. This includes a 21-for-27 performance from the charity stripe against New Zealand. The ability of Team USA to draw contact and get to the free throw line enables them to earn easy points if their offense is in a rut and puts their competitors in a position where they are more likely to commit fouls. In FIBA competition, players are eliminated after five fouls, whereas in the NBA, the threshold is set at six.
On Monday, despite the best efforts of a fan yelling at every attempt to distract them, the Americans could shoot 88% from the free throw line. They even had a little fun with the procedure, as evidenced by Anthony Edwards’ impression of the scream made after hitting a pair.
combined efforts of everyone involved
Only Haliburton logged more than 21 minutes, while only Edwards and Hart reached the 20-minute threshold. This is because Coach Kerr spread the minutes evenly among all 12 players on the roster.
Jalen Brunson and Edwards led the opening five in scoring with 13 points each to take the lead. Brunson played with a lot of aggression right from the opening tip, looking for his shot early on and scoring six of his 13 points in the first quarter alone. Before getting going in the second half, where he scored the first five points for Team USA, Edwards got off to a rocky start, scoring only four points on one-for-six shooting through the first two halves of play.
The remaining three starters, Jaren Jackson Jr. (nine points, two steals, and two blocks), Mikal Bridges (nine points, three assists), and Brandon Ingram (five points, three rebounds), combined for 23 points, which is comparable to the total of 21 points that the same three players scored against New Zealand.
Reaves and Haliburton remain a dynamic force off the bench for Team USA. The two players are an excellent compliment to one another and bring a heightened level of enthusiasm to the game. Hart put in the effort and produced the plays that have helped him become such a significant player in the NBA and with Team USA. Cam Johnson was the only American player to make multiple 3-pointers against Greece, despite the fact that he shot poorly and made just two of his seven field goal attempts.
Bobby Portis scored 10 points in the first half in 13 minutes, and Walker Kessler added four points in six minutes, but neither player participated in the second half of the game.
second attempt was both cleaner and more successful
Despite the fact that the United States of America won their first game of the tournament by 27 points against New Zealand, there was still opportunity for development heading into Monday’s match.
The United States of America scored 35 field goals in each of the two games, so the shooting numbers from the field are relatively comparable between the two contests. The ratio of assists to turnovers is where the most significant contrast can be found. In their game against Greece, the United States assisted on 26 of their team’s 35 made baskets; however, in their game against New Zealand, they only aided on 23 of their team’s made baskets. After committing 19 turnovers in their previous match against New Zealand, the United States only turned the ball over 11 times against Greece.
- The team scored 35 of 61 field goals (57.4%) against Greece and 35 of 59 (59.3%) against New Zealand.
- Three-pointers attempted and made: 9 of 22 (40.9%) versus Greece and 8 of 18 (44.4%) versus New Zealand.
- The free throw percentage was 30 out of 34 (88.2%) versus Greece and 21 out of 27 (77.8%) versus New Zealand.
- Against Greece, we had 26 assists and 11 turnovers; against New Zealand, we had 23 assists and 19 turnovers.
The United States of America is successful when they play a high level of team ball, giving up solid looks in favor of wide-open looks. The same holds for prevailing in the fight to increase turnover. When the team can force their opponents into mistakes with a live ball, they give themselves opportunities for easy points. In their victory over Greece, the Americans held a point edge of 20-11 in points off turnovers and beat the Greeks 32-6 in points scored on fast break opportunities.
Haliburton makes showtime on world cup
Tyrese Haliburton has impressed the crowd and his teammates through the tournament’s first two games by displaying his passing talents with a series of no-look dimes. These dimes have generated comments from both the crowd and his teammates.
However, the play that involved Haliburton, Reaves, and Portis in transition may have been the best of the day. To get the break going, Reaves makes a steal and then dribbles behind his back. This puts them in a position to score. He then sends the ball to Haliburton, who is racing down the right wing and snags it. Upon making the catch, Haliburton instantly sends a pass behind Reaves’ back. Reaves makes the catch in the middle of the lane and then passes the ball behind his head to Portis, who has a layup opportunity.
Everything occurred in a time span of fewer than ten seconds. After it, Haliburton did a skip run back toward the bench and high-fived Reaves as Greece called a timeout.
Through the first two matches of the competition, Team USA has shown that they can play effectively while still displaying flare and having fun. The United States team’s performance in the first round of the Group Phase has been quite entertaining, and while there may not be as many possibilities for showtime plays in the latter phases of the tournament due to the increased level of competition, this team’s performance has been noteworthy thus far.