The United States men’s basketball team will compete for a gold medal. Despite a rocky start on Saturday, the American offense came to life in the game’s final three quarters en route to a blowout win over the Czech Republic. Now, thanks to the 110-76 victory, the team earned a spot in the knockout round, and find themselves three wins away from their fourth consecutive Olympic gold.
The Czech Republic came to play early on. While the U.S. looked sluggish in the game’s early moments, the Czechs raced out to a 9-2 lead and ultimately went up by as many as 10 points in the game’s first frame.
The main issue for the Americans came from the inability to hit shots, a common issue for the team during the tournament. The team went 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) from the field and 4-for-11 (36.4 percent) from three in the first frame, with the Czechs hitting anything they wanted, shooting 10-for-16 (62.5 percent) and 3-for-5 (60 percent), respectively. As a result, Team USA found itself down 25-18 after one frame, although they did have one rather impressive moment when Zach LaVine tossed up a prayer that got answered.
A seemingly different U.S. team came out of the break, as the team looked much more crisp on both ends of the floor to start the second quarter. Eventually, Kevin Durant knocked down a transition three that served two purposes: It gave the Americans their first lead of the night at 34-33, and it made Durant the leading scorer at the Olympics in the men’s program’s history.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 31, 2021
Team USA ended up taking a 47-43 lead into the half, largely behind a narrow advantage from the three-point line. They made one more field goal and attempted three more shots from the field than the Czechs, but went 7-for-21 from three compared to 4-for-8 by their opponents. While efficiency wasn’t quite there, the sheer number of attempts made for a major difference. Durant’s 13 points led the way for the United States, while Illinois native Blake Schilb’s had 14 to lead all scorers.
Out of the break, Team USA started to pour it on. The shotmaking — particularly from behind the three-point line — that the team started to show in the second quarter became permanent, while the side showed a defensive intensity that made life miserable for the Czechs. Durant and Jayson Tatum did much of the heavy lifting on the offensive end of the floor, with Tatum scoring 17 in the second half and Durant scoring 10.
— Peacock (@peacockTV) July 31, 2021
nice sequence here by Tatum pic.twitter.com/t89Ae6S7EX
— Green With Envy (@The_617pod) (@greenenvypod) July 31, 2021
Tatum’s 27 points lead all scorers, while Durant had 23 with a game-high nine rebounds and six assists. The team eventually struggled to miss, going 45-for-72 (62.5 percent) from the field and a scorching hot 20-for-41 (48.8 percent) from three. Despite Schilb’s big night (17 points, five rebounds) and Tomas Satoransky stuffing the stat sheet (12 points, eight assists, six rebounds), the Czechs just could not keep up with that level of team-wide production.
Now, the Americans will sit back and wait to see who’s up next. We won’t learn until Sunday who the Americans play, but the potential looms large for a quarterfinal showdown with either longtime international rivals Spain, or a Slovenia team that boasts Luka Doncic.