On Monday, the United States took care of business again, beating Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Greece, 109-81. Lakers guard Austin Reaves was once again efficient during his 17 minutes off the bench, scoring 15 points and grabbing 5 rebounds to go with 6 assists.
Team USA’s starting lineup was able to play much better than they did in their first game, especially in the third when they extended the lead to more than 20 and put Greece away for good.
With two victories and four points in hand, USA is all but assured advancement to the second round, and they’ll likely do so as the top seed in their group.
Head coach Steve Kerr opted to use the same starting lineup from the previous game and the results were similar, with Team USA struggling in the opening minutes. It was a back-and-forth affair as Georgios Papagiannis shot lights out, scoring 11 of his 17 points to start the matchup. Kerr stuck with the lineup, making his first substitutions at the 1:40-minute mark when Austin Reaves saw his first playing time. His impact was immediately felt as he drew a foul on his first possession.
The haters will say he flopped, though.
Reaves holding his own against a bigger player in the post. Once the big shows the ball, Reaves punches the ball & sprints on the other end to get a breakaway dunk pic.twitter.com/6DJVGG83u9— Omar Siddiqi (@osid24) August 28, 2023
Reaves stayed on the floor to start the second and stripped the ball from Greek big Ioannis Papapetrou, creating a fastbreak opportunity that led to a two-handed dunk and thunderous applause from the pro-USA crowd.
Midway through the quarter Reaves had an impressive behind-the-back dribble and found an open Tyrese Halliburton in the corner for a three, extending USA’s lead to 15. Reaves was subbed out at the 4:32 mark, ending his first-half action with 6 points and 3 rebounds as the U.S. took a 13-point lead into the break.
The starting five played much better entering the second half as the lead ballooned to 22. With USA performing well, Kerr opted to keep the unit on the floor and Reaves was relegated to the bench for most of the third until he was subbed in with under four minutes left in the quarter. Once in the game, we got vintage Reaves plays; 3-point shots, drawn fouls, and doing the little things to help keep the U.S. in control.
With victory firmly in hand, Kerr kept the starters on the bench to start the fourth and Reaves stayed on the floor helping to extend the lead to 25. He was subbed out at with 3:44 left in the game, ending his night of play as Team USA essentially ran out the clock.
Despite some struggles with the starting unit, the U.S. has comfortably won these games. Reaves looked even better in his second game, and he’s adjusted well to the officiating and international rules. He has been one of the best players for the team so far, and has done everything possible to make a case to play a big role — or maybe even become a starter — moving forward.
Reaves and the rest of USA Basketball will play their final group stage game on Wednesday, Aug. 30 vs. Jordan. For those on the West Coast, tip-off is slated for 1:30 a.m. PT, so either stay up all night or take an afternoon nap.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.