It hasn’t been the easiest start for Team USA in their first week playing together in preparation for the Olympics Games, but after their third exhibition game, things look to finally be coming together.
Just a day after losing in a close contest with Australia, the U.S. bounced back with a dominant 108-80 victory over Argentina on Tuesday.
Led by Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard with 17 points apiece, Team USA dominated from the tip, with improved passing and more intense on-ball defense, as they suffocated Argentina’s ball movement. After scoring 12 points against Australia, BB built off that performance with an even better one, shooting 5-of-8 from the field to go along with six rebounds and three assists.
Brad even opened up the scoring with a beautiful alley-oop to Bam Adebayo on the opening possession.
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 13, 2021
Team USA came out strong in the first half, showing improved ball movement and team defense compared to their previous two games as they went up 58-42 at the half. After the game, No. 3 discussed the team’s emphasis on improving their defensive intensity.
“The biggest thing we have to realize is that it’s not the NBA, and coach Pop keeps reemphasizing that to us every single day,” Brad said. “It’s more physical. These guys have been playing together for five, 10-plus years, so they have this experience and chemistry. We’re trying to develop that in a short period of time.”
The improved playmaking carried over into the second half as well, leading to plenty of open looks as the team shot 51 percent from the field to cruise to a win. While Brad had plenty of big plays during the game, perhaps the biggest highlight of the night for him was to have his two sons Deuce and Braylon in attendance to watch him play.
Team USA has two more exhibition games left as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, with their next one a rematch with Australia on Friday, July 16. A big game against the Aussies could go a long way toward demonstrating Team USA’s development together. Although Brad knows the focus is more on the team continuing to build up chemistry for the Olympics.
“A sense of urgency is what we are preaching, but at the same time, every single day we have to get better,” BB said. “There’s still a lot more we can improve on, but we’re moving in the right direction.”