5 things to learn from the US beating Greece in the World Cup

things to learn from the US beating Greece in the World Cup

Team USA beat Greece 109-81 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila to improve to 2-0 in the Group Phase of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The win guarantees that the US will move on to the next round of the Group Phase. On Wednesday at 4:40 a.m. ET, ESPN2, they will play their last game of the first round against Jordan.

Here are five things about Monday’s game that stood out.

1. Reaves and the bench unit deliver once more

Team USA got a big boost from the bench for the second game in a row. In the first four minutes of Saturday’s game against New Zealand, the reserves were already behind by 10 points. They were able to get things back on track. When the starters played Greece, they were almost as good as their opponents. When the bench came in, the USA had a 10-point lead that they never gave up. The USA bench scored 60 points, while the starters only scored 49.

Austin Reaves (Los Angeles Lakers) led the team with 15 points, five rebounds, and six assists in just 17 minutes. He showed off every part of his game. He made a nice Eurostep move for a layup that got a big cheer from the crowd, found open teammates while pushing the ball in transition, and found ways to get fouled with hesitation dribbles and quick moves on the perimeter.

Reaves was also a magnet for physical contact. On his first three possessions of the game, he was fouled. He made all six of his free throws during the game.

2. The USA wins most of their free throws

USA beat Greece - wins most of their free throws

In addition to Reaves and Banchero’s six free throws each, the US kept going to the foul line all night.

They were 30 for 34 for the night, with Banchero and Walker Kessler being the only ones to miss. Before Banchero split a pair with 2:55 left in the third quarter, Team USA made their first 22 free throws. After making 21 of 27 free throws against New Zealand, the US is now 51 of 61 (83.6% of the time) in its first two Group Phase games. Team USA’s ability to draw contact and get to the line not only lets them get easy points when their offense isn’t working, but also puts their opponents in foul trouble. In FIBA games, a player is out of the game after five fouls instead of six in the NBA.

Even though a fan screamed at them every chance he got, the Americans were able to make 88% of their free throws on Monday. In the process, they even had some fun, like when Anthony Edwards imitated the scream after hitting a pair.

3. Working together

Haliburton was the only player to play more than 21 minutes, and only Edwards and Hart played more than 20 minutes. Kerr gave the same number of minutes to all 12 players on the team.

Jalen Brunson and Edwards each had 13 points to lead the starting five. Brunson was aggressive from the first tip, looking for his shot early and scoring six of his 13 points in the first quarter. Edwards had a slow start, scoring only four points on one of six shots in the first two periods. In the second half, though, he got going and scored the first five points for Team USA.

The other three starters, Jaren Jackson Jr. (9 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks), Mikal Bridges (9 points, 3 assists), and Brandon Ingram (5 points, 3 rebounds), scored a total of 23 points, which is about the same as the 21 points they scored against New Zealand.

Reaves and Haliburton are still two of the most exciting players on Team USA’s bench. They work well together and bring a lot of energy to the court. Hart did all the hard things that made him such a good player in the NBA and for Team USA. Cam Johnson’s shot wasn’t going well, and he only made two of seven shots from the field. However, he was the only American to make more than one 3-pointer against Greece.

Bobby Portis scored 10 points in 13 minutes, and Walker Kessler added 4 points in 6 minutes, but neither of them played in the second half.

4. The second trip was cleaner and more efficient

Even though the Americans beat New Zealand by 27 points in the first game, there was still room for improvement going into Monday’s game.

From the field, the US made 35 field goals in both games, so the shooting numbers are very similar. But the key difference comes from the number of assists to turnovers. The Americans had a hand in 26 of the 35 baskets they made against Greece, but only 23 of the 35 baskets they made against New Zealand. After giving the ball away 19 times against New Zealand, the Americans only did it 11 times against Greece.

USA does well when they share the ball well and pass up good looks for wide-open ones. The same is true if you want to win the battle for turnovers. When the team can get the other team to turn the ball over, it’s easy for them to score. In the win over Greece, the Americans had more fast break points (32-6) and more points off turnovers (21-10).

5. Haliburton makes the World Cup a show

Tyrese Haliburton (Indian Pacers) has shown off his passing skills in the first two games of the tournament by making a number of no-look dimes that have gotten cheers from the crowd and his teammates.

But Haliburton, Reaves, and Portis might have been the best play of the day when they were in transition. Reaves steals the ball and dribbles behind his back to start the break. He throws it ahead to Haliburton, who is running down the right wing. Haliburton catches it and throws it back to Reaves behind his back. Reaves grabs the ball in the lane and sends a pass behind his head to Portis, who has a wide-open layup.

Everything happened in less than 10 seconds. At the end, Haliburton skipped back to the bench and gave Reaves a high-five while Greece called a timeout.

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