Admittedly, there's a bit of a difference when you're slated to play Greece and an Antetokounmpo, only it's not Giannis. There does seem to be a slight difference between him and his brother Thanasis
so the fact that Team USA once again kicked the shit out of another opponent isn't all that surprising. In fact, this was the expectation as far as I'm concerned. After blowing out New Zealand by 27 in the opener, the expectation was to do the same against a Greece team missing their obvious best player. I'm not a huge math guy but I'd say winning your next game by 28 fits the bill. Unlike their opener where Team USA was in a collective coma for the first half of the first quarter, today's win was much more dominant from the opening tip.
This now makes Team USA a perfect 6-0 since this whole thing started. A perfect 4-0 in their tune up games and 2-0 in the group stage. I'd say they were really only tested in the tune up games against Spain and Germany, with every other win ending up in a blowout. Of course if you've been watching or reading these blogs so far, you know that what's made Team USA so devastating to begin this tournament is how tough their second unit is. That group is what controlled things in the opener, and today was no different
All you have to do is look at the +/- impact of the 2nd unit guys. It's been this way since the team arrived in Vegas for camp
Paolo Banchero: 8/3/1 and a +14
Josh Hart: 6/11/5 and a +13
Tyrese Haliburton: 9/2/3 and a +19
Austin Reaves: 15/5/6 and a +19
Jalen Brunson got the team started to begin the first quarter and he finished a perfect 5/5 from the floor for 13 points, but the difference for Team USA has been the fact that their second unit looks like a collection of talent that could probably win this whole tournament by themselves. Everyone seems to be thriving in their role, and every time Team USA starts to pull away from an opponent it's mostly because of the play of their second unit. That feels a little unfair, but whatever. Not our problem!
While Anthony Edwards was rightfully getting a lot of the hype heading into the real games, it's pretty obvious that up to this point, the two guys who have made the biggest impact are Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reaves. Things look so much more fluid when both are on the floor together. You have to assume it's only a matter of time before Steve Kerr realizes this and moves someone like Brandon Ingram out of the starting lineup, something he's probably not going to be thrilled about
But after another relatively quiet performance, maybe FIBA basketball isn't exactly suited for a player like Ingram. It does feel like the Reaves/Haliburton combo is much more of a fit for how you have to play in FIBA competition and the results sort of speak for themselves.
I also think we should be at the point where as excited as you may be about a pending Anthony Edwards leap this NBA season, the same should be true about Paolo Banchero. I continue to be very intrigued with him playing the 5, and everything we've seen from him so far in this tournament screams breakout season. The Magic were already feisty last year, so I see no reason why this can't be a year where they are competing for a Play In spot at worst.
Barring something completely insane, I imagine we'll see more of this dominance from Team USA when they wrap their grou play on Wednesday against Jordan. From there, it's time for the 2nd round where maybe we'll see this team be challenged. Team USA certainly isn't the only team that looks great so far, remember Luka Magic is still out there and he's kicking everyone's ass
Team Canada looks every bit as dominant in their start behind guys like SGA who is playing out of his mind as well. Things will obviously get tougher as we get through the group stages, but it's nice to see Team USA isn't playing with their food to start. That's something the 2019 FIBA team seemed to love doing, which is why they had the worst showing in Team USA history.
At the end of the day, Team USA is simply doing what they should be doing which is kicking the rest of the world's ass. Top to bottom they've looked like one of the strongest teams in the field, and we really haven't even gotten that Anthony Edwards offensive explosion yet. Instead they're dominating through their balance, which is better in my opinion. Some countries need to rely on their one or two NBA stars to do all the heavy lifting. The beauty of Team USA is there are like 5 or 6 guys who can do it.