August 17, 2016, 8:59 pm
The men’s games didn’t have nearly the same theater (not to disparage the late game between Serbia and Croatia) as the women’s bracket yesterday, and that’s okay. What we got instead was some tournament favorites rounding into form as well as a final farewell to one of the international basketball scene’s finest cores. On one hand, three of the games were basically two quarters long. On the other, it looks like the big boys are heating up at the right time.
The semifinals are shaping up to be quite fun.
Australia 90 vs. Lithuania 64
Spain 92 vs. France 67
USA 105 vs. Argentina 78
Serbia 86 vs. Croatia 83
Australia 90 vs. Lithuania 64
Australia continued to look dominant today, dispatching Lithuania with ease in the first game of the afternoon. Australia got a three pointer from Matthew Dellavedova on their first possession and never relinquished the lead. Australia executed its offense to perfection with superb screens and backed it up with tenacious defense.
Australia continued to put on an offensive clinic; they are expert at running Patty Mills all around the floor until he can get stuck in a mismatch or find an open lane. Joe Ingles, Andrew Bogut and Dellavedova can all dish nicely and they knew which players to target on the defensive end. It was another tremendous outing that only cements Australia’s reputation as at least the second best team in Rio. Their physical defense got Lithuania off their game early and allowed the Boomers to build up a big lead that turned most of the second half into garbage time. The lead was cut down to the mid-teens at times but it never felt as though Lithuania could come back.
Mills had 24 points and 5 threes on 8-15 shooting, Dellavedova battled through a leg problem for 15 points, Aron Baynes shot 7-9 and put up 16 points of his own. The ball movement was once again brilliant as the Aussies worked to get Mindaugas Kuzminskas (#19) matched up on Mills and then stuck him on screens that led to open shots or over-rotations from the defense. Whenever Baynes flashed into open position, he got the ball. They absolutely carved up their opponents and look like a basketball cyborg headed into the semifinals.
Lithuania’s tournament started so well but they have now had three bad games in a row. They totally unraveled today and looked frustrated by the game’s physicality from the jump. Jonas Valanciunas ranged from ‘bad’ to ‘pedestrian’ despite gathering in 8 rebounds, many of them in dogfights with Baynes and Bogut. He really needs to develop a jumper, as Bogut completely sagged off him outside the paint and paid no price; Valanciunas never even looked at the basket despite 10 feet of space between him and his defender.
Mantas Kalnietis (#5; 12-3-5 today) had emerged as Lithuania’s go-to guy but was shut down by some terrific off-ball defense. That led to some bad passes and poor decisions as other players were forced to handle the ball; Lithuania had 17 turnovers and just 14 assists on the day. I watched this game on replay and was credited with a contact steal. It was a game where the Lithuanians looked frustrated at best and clueless at worst.
Australia Lithuania Points Mills 24
Kalnietis / Kavaliauskas 12
Kuzminskas / Maciulis 6
Rebounds Bogut 7
Assists Bogut 6
Broekhoff / Martin 4
- Ingles with great defense on Maciulis to start
- Bogut just destroyed Kalnietis with a screen on the second play of the game; he was cheating to help in the paint and ran right into Bogut when Ingles’ skip pass got to the corner; beautiful execution by Australia
- Tried a little clear out action to open up a driving lane for Maciulis but Mills didn’t bite at all; drew the charge for Maciulis’ 2nd foul in 90 seconds
- Australia had 18 points off turnovers in the first quarter; Lithuania had no chance today
- Some weak calls against Lithuania while Australia got lots of leeway early on, but really no excuse for the performance
- Lithuanians are missing all kinds of rotations on defense; they were totally worn out by the physicality