Raptors in Rio: USA WINS Gold 96 – 66 over Serbia

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The Gold Medal game was the right time for the US to play its best. They demolished an overmatched Serbian squad, with Raptors Lowry & DeRozan pitching in.

In the closing game of the Rio Olympics, the US finally reached their true potential. Team USA was led by Kevin Durant’s dominating performance, in which he tallied 30 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Nemanja Nedovic led all Serbian scorers with 14 points on 60% shooting.

In the opening quarter, the Americans did not look set for a gold medal performance. The Serbian offense fed off the US’ sloppy play, forcing six turnovers and burning the Americans in transition. The rest of their offense was built around pick and roll, featuring star guard Milos Teodosic and Miroslav Raduljica. Unable to surmount the Serbians, Coach K opted to pull the starters, save Kevin Durant, off the floor. Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, and Paul George were inserted in their place.

It was from this point onwards that the Americans began to dominate. Their success was built upon lockdown defense. Coordinated by Paul George and Kyle Lowry, the Serbian offense sputtered and died, they shot 32% from field in the second quarter. Their offensive maestro, Milos Teodosic, was held to his worst performance of the games, racking up just 9 points and 3 assists.

Frustrated by the Americans’ pick and roll coverage, Serbia switched up their offensive plan, favouring post play over the pick and roll. Teodosic, standing at 6’5”, tried to use his larger frame to back down Kyrie Irving. Though it worked to some avail, Coach K quickly subbed in Kyle Lowry, against whom Teodosic found no success. The Serbian big men, like Raduljica, were no match for the strength and shot blocking of DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins. Jordan’s defensive presence was highlighted again, as he blocked three shots.

DeMarcus Cousins, in his role off the bench, proved invaluable. He notched 15 rebounds, 6 of which were offensive. Cousins’ size and strength inside frustrated the Serbians and it showed, as he drew five fouls. From these free throws, Cousins found his offensive; he scored 7 of his 13 points at the free throw line.

Though defense was the bedrock of this performance, Kevin Durant’s performance is what ultimately led Team USA to victory. On a night when Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Kyrie Irving were all shooting poorly, Durant’s hot hand steadied the offense.

DeMar DeRozan made a brief appearance in the first and second quarters. After his bench lineup began to open up a gap, Coach K fiddled with the final wing spot. First, he put Jimmy Butler in, but after Jimmy’s poor offensive play didn’t improve he subbed in DeMar. Finally, looking for just an extra bit of shooting and defense, Coach K put in Klay Thompson. DeMar would not appear again until the fourth quarter, where he, Kyle Lowry, and Paul George would hookup for highlight play of the Olympics.

Lowry’s contribution was much more evident. As he had in previous games, Kyle was a defensive leader for the Americans. Both he and Paul George locked down the Serbian guards, drying up their main source of offense. Offensively, he again found his niche as a creator out of the pick and roll and drive and kick, where he racked up 5 assists.
Congratulations to all of Team USA, and especially to DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Looking ahead, we can only hope to see more Raptors players appear at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Maybe they will compete against Canada!