USA 97-78 Australia: 5 Takeaways as Kevin Durant and Devin Booker lead Americans to the gold medal game of Olympics 2021

<a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Kevin Durant</a> #7 high-fives teammate Damian Lillard #6.
Kevin Durant #7 high-fives teammate Damian Lillard #6.

Team USA rallied from a 15-point deficit to take a 97-78 win over Australia in the semi-finals of the 2021 Olympics in Saitama, Japan. The victory on Thursday gave the Americans an opportunity to win another gold medal when they play in the finals of the basketball tournament in the Olympics.

Australia led by 15 points, 41-26 with 5:23 to go in the quarter on an alley-oop dunk by Jock Landale, forcing USA coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout. Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday led a comeback by Team USA, pulling them to within three points, 45-42, at halftime.

In the second half, Australia succumbed to Team USA’s relentless defensive pressure and crisp, offensive execution as Durant and co. came away with a huge win.

Here are 5 takeaways from Team USA’s lopsided victory over Team Australia:

#1 Kevin Durant put Team USA on his shoulders

In the first half, when no one from Team USA could score, it was Kevin Durant who kept them in the game. The former NBA MVP was unstoppable, draining one mid-range jumper after another while playing hard-nosed defense.

Durant scored 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go along with a team-high nine rebounds, two steals and a block. During a third-quarter stretch of nearly three minutes midway through the period, Durant scored or assisted on five possessions. His efforts gave the USA a 59-50 lead, which they would extend to 74-55 by the end of the quarter.

#2 Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday complemented Kevin Durant

As Durant was on a hot streak, Devin Booker caught the bug as well, scoring 20 points on a sizzling 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. The shooting guard found his groove in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and led Team USA to a 19-point lead over Australia heading into the fourth quarter.

From offense to defense, Jrue Holiday was a force for the USA, putting together a solid performance with 11 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block. He was the catalyst for his side from the second to third quarters, scoring timely baskets and distributing the ball with precision.

United States v Australia Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 13
United States v Australia Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 13

#3 Team USA better ball movement in the second half

Team USA appeared to be walking on mud in the first half as they just watched Kevin Durant go to work on offense.

But in the second half, the Americans passed the ball quickly to find the open man and it led to a lot of easy baskets, both from 3-point range and inside the paint. Australia couldn’t keep up defensively as they scrambled to try and contain whoever was left open.

Team USA only had 19 assists compared to Australia's 22, but much of the difference between the teams was made up for by the Americans in the third and fourth quarters.

#4 Team USA started scoring with their shots in the second half

Khris Middleton #8 goes up for a shot against Chris Goulding #4.
Khris Middleton #8 goes up for a shot against Chris Goulding #4.

Though the Americans were stagnant offensively in the first half, it wasn’t as if they couldn’t get a clear look at the basket. More accurately, Team USA had the opportunities, but their shooting was just flat and it put them in a huge hole against Australia. It’s a good thing that it wasn’t a deficit that they couldn’t overcome.

In the second half, Team USA rediscovered its stroke. As their shots started to fall, their defense also improved. The US scored 32 points in the third quarter compared to only 10 points for Australia. Overall, the Americans shot 51.4 percent from the field while the Australians made just 41.0 percent of their field goal attempts.

#5 Team USA smothered Australia on the boards

<a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Bam Adebayo</a> #13 drives to the basket against Nic Kay #15.
Bam Adebayo #13 drives to the basket against Nic Kay #15.

Using their quickness and height advantage over Australia, who were missing center Aron Baynes, Team USA grabbed 44 rebounds as opposed to just 29 for their opponents. It was a total team effort for the USA, who dominated the glass on the back of stellar efforts from Durant (nine rebounds), Holiday (eight) and Bam Adebayo (eight).

They also kept the Australians from getting positioned underneath the basket, limiting them to just nine offensive rebounds.

Moreover, Team USA put their 14 offensive rebounds to work, getting 17 second chance points aside from scoring 38 in the painted area.

Also Read: NBA Rumors Roundup: Kemba Walker will sign with New York Knicks after buyout, Spencer Dinwiddie headed to Washington Wizards and more - August 4th, 2021

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Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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