25 July, 2021
07 August
7 Kevin Durant (USA)
Game Report
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USA erase 15-point deficit, storm through to the fourth-straight Final

TOKYO (Japan) - Australia gave the USA their best run after they owned a late first-half 41-26 lead, but then Team USA put on one of the most dominant performances in recent history to win 97-78 at the Saitama Super Arena.

The fact that the USA missed their first 10 three-point attempts made it easier for the Boomers to stay in front for the entire first half, but it all went downhill after the break. Gregg Popovich and his crew now await the winner of the all-European Semi-Final between Slovenia and France.

Turning point: Australia's hedge defense and pressure outside of the arc forced the USA offensive to attack the rim, but kept them quiet from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Boomers had all the answers when the Americans switched on the other end of the court as they opened up a 41-26 lead.

But similar to what they did against Spain, the Americans showed once again you can only keep a good team down for so long as they  bounced back late in the first half to make that gap vanish. Their switches became a bit more aggressive, they forced three straight turnovers by Australia in the last 90 seconds of the half. With Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday and Kevin Durant all making big shots, Team USA pulled within 45-42 at the break.

That was just a blueprint for the third quarter. Australia couldn't get anything going, and with each miss, the floor was becoming more open for the USA players to run. Run they did, 32-10 the margin of the third quarter to change the question mark about their ambitions here into a gigantic exclamation mark.

Game hero(es): There were somewhere around 500 people in the arena when you count in all the delegations, volunteers, media members and staff. All 500 of them reacted the same way, completely confused when Kevin Durant actually missed a shot.

The captain was sensational again, keeping the USA alive in the first half and finishing things up in the second. KD's efforts saw him net a stat line of 23 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block. Honorable mention: Devin Booker's hyper-efficient 20 points on 10 shots.

Stats don't lie: USA started the game 0-of-10 from deep, but went on to have a solid 9-of-18 day afterwards. They dominated the game inside, going +14 in paint points, +6 in blocks, +5 in offensive rebounds, +15 in total rebounds.

Bottom line: It looked like a shaky road, but the USA are back to the Final again to go for their fourth straight Olympic gold. Australia gave them their best shot, but it feels like they missed Aron Baynes a lot in their interior rotation. The big man suffered a neck injury earlier in the tournament.

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They said: "The journey has been fun so far. We are looking forward to this opportunity, we need to see who we are going to play against in the Final, but I'm looking forward to executing our game plan on defense." - Kevin Durant, when asked about making it his third straight Olympic Finals personally

"He is a great defender. He climbs in and used his body really well. His long arms make it difficult to bring the ball up the court. When he is on point, the rest of the guys use that energy as well. They were a lot better today on their switches. They are a great defensive team and contest really well. If you are not making shots they are going to get out and run down the other end." Nick Kay, saying USA are a different team with Jrue Holiday on board. He wasn't playing the exhibition game in Las Vegas that Australia won

"He told it to all his Olympians in all the Olympic Games he participated and coached. Basically, that means to play on with the next play, that you don't react to a teammate's turnover or referee's call or the fact that you missed the shot. Nobody cares about that. You don't have that right, you owe your team and you're responsible to your team to move on to the next play. He called it 'strong faces' and as simplistic as that sounds, it's really true. We tried to adopt it." - Coach Gregg Popovich talking about the term Strong Face, which he took from coach Mike Krzyzewski

"These guys have put 12 years into this. I have come in and out of this. The more you are willing to commit to something, the harder it is to retreat. When I walked out of that locker room, the message is loud and clear. Head back, head straight, walk out of here proud, proud of who you are, proud of what you do, proud of what you are displaying. We have got something right in front of us now that has never happened for this country and so let's get excited about that," Coach Brian Goorjian wants that first medal for Australia