“Problems” are kind of a relative term for Team USA, at least in group play. Talent’s going to carry them pretty far in the opening rounds of Olympic play. But we’re always able to get better. So here are three problems that showed up in Team USA’s win over France.
1. Shooting is going to be OK overall, but it’s worth a note. Team USA shot just 44 percent from 2-point range in the first half, and it took a hot second half to get their three-point shooting to 32 percent. The idea is that even without pure shooters like Eric Gordon on the team that someone will get hot each game, but there has to be some concern. If Kevin Durant’s not on the floor, Team USA struggled on the catch-and-shoot, and that’s going to have to be a big part of Team USA’s gameplan because better teams will stack the paint against them. Russell Westbrook and James Harden are both inconsistent. Team USA could really use Eric Gordon, who was cut for harden, though Harden played well overall.
2. Post defense. France has some better post players than a lot of the competition, but it still should be noted that with Tyson Chandler out, France went right to work down low. That contributed to the big deluge of fouls that befell Team USA, and it’s going to have to be an area of emphasis for Team USA’s forwards. Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Kevin Love have to be prepared to play low and defend without fouling, not an easy ask with FIBA officials.
3. The initial adjustment to the blitzkrieg. Team USA hammered France early, getting out in transition and running them out of the gym. But the French adjusted, and started getting back in transition to cut off angles. Team USA has to keep pushing the issue. It wears the opponent out and eventually, that’s when the real break-apart happens. Constant attack has to be the motto because this team just isn’t built for brilliant halfcourt play.
Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract
ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.
Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.
Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.
Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.
In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.
Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.
Boozer on ESPN:
I’m officially retired.
The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.
Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.
The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.
When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”
I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?
Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.
Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.
Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)