• Team USA made things a little too close for comfort once again. The French, playing without Tony Parker, sliced and diced some bad defense and kept the game close for far longer than they should’ve against the tournament favorites. There were some rotation tweaks today that kickstarted Klay Thompson but the defensive cracks exposed by other teams are more evident than ever. The rest of Group A sorted itself out, so hop to it.

    Today’s Results

    Men’s

    USA 100 vs. France 97
    Australia 81 vs. Venezuela 56
    Serbia 94 vs. China 60

    Women’s

    USA 102 vs. China 65
    Serbia 95 vs. Senegal 88
    Spain 73 vs. Canada 60

    USA 100 vs. France 97

    The US squeaked out another win but looked much better against France than they did against Australia and Serbia. There were still plenty of concerning things to investigate so the work here is hardly done. On one hand the ball moved and there was a more definitive flow to the offense. On the other, the US won by just three against an opponent that’s looked listless in group play that rested its starting point guard. Regardless, the US are a perfect 5-0 in the group stage and will be the top seed in the medal round.

    Klay Thompson finally got cooking today and even hit some of his specialty quickfire triples. He finished with 30 points and shot 7-13 from behind the arc in a game that was a sight for sore eyes. Reinserting him into the starting lineup appears to have done the trick, though increased ball movement was probably the most important factor today. Klay was dipping and weaving around the court without the ball and earned a good amount of touches in the first quarter even if he didn’t heat up until later.

    On the topic of ball movement, the US was credited for 19 assists on 19 first half field goals (though some were fairly generous) and ended with 32 on 35; Kyrie Irving led the way with 12 dimes. His most memorable came on a beautiful alley-oop to Kevin Durant when Irving slipped and fell but still managed to fling the ball over a French defender from behind the arc. DeMar DeRozan had a nice first half, earning 7 free throw attempts before going through a spell of stupid turnovers in the second half and playing his way off the court. Kevin Durant was a perfect 6-6 from the floor for 17 points but hardly looked good today; his issues on the other end of the floor popped up in a big way.

    There were still lots of defensive struggles to diagnose and the starting lineup just isn’t working on that end of the floor. DeMarcus Cousins is getting hurt by a tough whistle but teams are attacking him and Kyrie Irving with relative ease; no matter what coverage the US throws out to support them it’s a constant weak spot. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony were both victimized by a handful of backdoor cuts where they just stopped paying attention and allowed an easy look at the rim. The lack of defensive awareness in the current starting five is remarkable; Klay Thompson looks like the lone player who can anticipate what’s coming next and is assuredly the only one who won’t just dip under a perimeter screen.

    The bench unit, however, comes in with much more tenacity and smarts on the defensive end. DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry, DeRozan, Jimmy Butler and Paul George looked like a much more cohesive unit and really pulled away against France’s bench. One game Plus/Minus is a silly tool to use for evaluation, but this isn’t exactly a coincidence: Jordan +12, Butler +7, Lowry +6. Amongst the starters? Durant +2, Klay +1, Kyrie -3, Melo -3, Cousins -5.

    If they’re serious about shoring up the defense, Jimmy Butler needs to play more than 6:26. Kyle Lowry needs to play more than 12:38. Draymond Green needs to play more than 6:12. This is a starting group that couldn’t contain Nando De Colo and Thomas Heurtel. If France could shoot the three it’d be a very different story. If the US doesn’t change anything and runs into a hot shooting team? Well, it doesn’t seem like a good proposition.

    France rested Tony Parker for the medal round today but almost pulled it off without him. They got excellent games from their guards; De Colo (#12) scored 18 points on 8-13 shooting in just 19 minutes while Heurtel (#4) scored 18 of his own on 8-14, hitting a number of big jumpers and crafty floaters to lead a late French surge. The Teenage Mutant Ninja was great today, picking up 8 boards and 9 assists in his extra run. France put some sneaky depth on display after their usual bench units struggled in the first few games. Nic Batum (14 points) took on more of the scoring burden tonight while Antoine ‘Ronnie James’ Diot (#6) scored 8 points, though three came on a meaningless buzzer beater to end the game.

    France couldn’t follow the blueprint laid by others before them who dragged Cousins and Jordan into high pick and roll situations. Rudy Gobert simply isn’t effective at drawing opposing bigs out of the paint and the offense didn’t get too much rhythm going until Joffrey Lauvergne (12 points on 6-10) stepped in a started to hit some midrange shots. France will be in the medal round alongside the US, though neither knows who they’ll be playing just yet.

    Top Performers

    USA France
    Points Thompson 30
    Durant 17
    Irving / Anthony 10
    De Colo / Heurtel 18
    Batum 14
    Lauvergne 12
    Rebounds Durant 6
    Cousins 5
    Irving / Anthony 4
    Heurtel 8
    Gobert / Lauvergne 5
    De Colo 4
    Assists Irving 12
    Anthony 5
    Durant 4
    Heurtel 9
    Diaw 7
    De Colo 5

    Stray Thoughts:

    • Draymond needs to play; he’s a cure for so many issues- screening, passing, defense
    • Lauvergne could be a tough cover for DAJ; can hit from mid-range and Jordan won’t leave the paint
    • Lowry/DDR/PG/Butler/DAJ unit does such an improved job of passing the ball
    • US got bailed out on a few stupid fouls on threes
    • Diaw loves dishing to Gobert; 4/5 PnR would be lethal if Gobert had a better offensive game
    • Lowry visibly frustrated when officials won’t give him the ball to inbound quickly; love his sense of urgency
    • Boogie finished strong; just too big and strong for France to handle down low
    • KD looked bad again, ball seemed to stop in his hands, a stupid turnover with 2 minutes left that led to a Heurtel 3
    • Melo with 2 big triples in the 4th on an otherwise quiet scoring day

Fantasy News

  • Blake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) is active for Monday's Game 4 against the Bucks, as expected.

    Griffin was listed as probable but there was pretty much zero doubt about whether or not he'd play with Detroit facing elimination. We'll see if they can extend this series tonight, even with their best player clearly working at less than 100 percent health.

    Source: Keith Langlois on Twitter

  • Malcolm Brogdon - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Mike Budenholzer expects to have a firm target date for Malcolm Brogdon (partial right plantar fascia tear) in the next 3-to-5 days.

    Brogdon has been out since mid-March and remains on track to meet the original 6-to-8 week timetable, though he hasn't done any scrimmaging yet. It's still anticipated that Brogdon will be back in the mix some time in the second round. Once he's up to speed we'll see less George Hill, Sterling Brown and Pat Connaughton.

    Source: Matt Velazquez on Twitter

  • Chris Boucher - F - Toronto Raptors

    Chris Boucher (back spasms) has been ruled out ahead of Tuesday's Game 5 with the Magic.

    Boucher was briefly taken off the injury report ahead of Game 4 but ended up being ruled out anyway. He's highly unlikely to see the floor at all in the postseason, healthy or not.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Joel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) is probable ahead of Tuesday's Game 5 against the Nets.

    Embiid played it coy with his status earlier today but we'd expect to see him out there in a closeout opportunity. Ending this quickly would give him some additional rest with the second round starting on the weekend at the earliest, so a focused effort would give Philly benefits on multiple fronts. Embiid's played through the injury after missing Game 3 and hasn't looked too hampered in dominating Brooklyn up front.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Joel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) wouldn't commit to playing in Game 5 vs. the Nets on Tuesday.

    Embiid said that "We've got to keep them guessing" and it's highly likely he doesn't even know whether or not he's going to play yet. He's been a true game-time decision for the entire series and that's not going to change so stay tuned for updates closer to tip off.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter

  • Ed Davis - C - Brooklyn Nets

    Ed Davis (ankle) is considered to be questionable going into Tuesday's Game 5 vs. the 76ers.

    Davis was a big part in the Nets' Game 1 win and his rebounding could serve to help Brooklyn out a ton. They just look outmatched by Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic and Davis could provide another big man presence down low. This could be the last game of the series so Davis' status should be a big story coming into the game.

    Source: Brian Lewis on Twitter

  • Jeff Green - F - Washington Wizards

    Jeff Green expressed that he would like to return and play for the Wizards during the 2019-2020 season.

    "I would love to come back," Green said. "Great set of guys on this team. I loved playing with Brad [Beal], John [Wall]." Green was very consistent and was on a friendly contract, but the direction in which the organization wants to go remains unclear. Green may need to find a new home given the plethora of depth the Wizards have at the forward position.

    Source: Chase Hughes of NBC Washington

  • Russell Westbrook - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Russell Westbrook went 5-for-21 from the field to finish with 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two treys in Sunday's 98-111 Game 4 loss to the Blazers.

    Time and again in this series, it's been evident that Damian Lillard has been playing at a higher level than Westbrook and tonight was a fine example. Lillard was able to shake off his early shooting struggles and come up big in the second half, but Westbrook was still forcing shots and appeared to be on the back foot for most of the game. He's best when he's the one taking it to his opponents. A reactive Westbrook is simply not the star the Thunder need right now, if they want to salvage any hopes of coming back in this first-round series.

  • Dennis Schroder - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder mirrored his 17-point performance from Friday with another 17-point game in Sunday's loss to the Blazers.

    Schroder shot 6-of-12 from the field and added three rebounds, three assists, two 3s and one steal to the box score tonight. Aside from him though, the Thunder's bench was deafeningly quiet. He cannot carry the load of the second unit's scoring output by his lonesome, especially when they're faced up against a team with multiple weapons like the Blazers. For now, the Thunder can only hope he keeps this up and that the other reserves will follow suit.

  • Jerami Grant - F - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Jerami Grant made just 4-of-10 shots from the field on Sunday to finish with 11 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three triples and two steals in 34 minutes.

    Grant's impact on the defensive end has been invaluable to the Thunder in this series and it was nice to see him active on the glass tonight, especially with Steven Adams being relatively quiet on that front with seven boards while adding six points, one assist, one steal and one block. Unfortunately for the Thunder, Portland's forwards, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu outplayed and out-hustled them on both ends of the floor.