Team USA didn’t leave anything to chance in the much hyped Second Round matchup against Greece, stepping up defensively for a comfortable 69-53 win. Greece jumped on top of things early with a couple of electrifying plays from Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Gregg Popovich’s decision to go small paid dividends in the second quarter when Team USA held Greece to just eight points.
From there, the United States managed to hold Greece at bay despite some sloppy intervals throughout the second half. Any time Greece pushed the game within reach, Team USA managed to hold strong, reversing course and pushing the game back to a comfortable margin.
The decision to go small ultimately limited the floor time for Myles Turner, who logged just shy of 14:30 of action. Despite the limited minutes, Turner was very efficient while on the floor. He finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Even Turner’s defense against Antetokounmpo was largely effective, holding him outside of the paint on numerous occasions, forcing long jumpers when he wasn’t forcing the pass.
Good defense here from Myles Turner. Greece runs a P&R for Giannis late in the clock. Turner takes the switch, good individual defense, looks like he had that pull up timed. Interested to see if he can continue to grow in that area on defense. pic.twitter.com/0ZMgXO16B4— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) September 7, 2019
Turner’s ability to make Antetokounmpo a jump shooter helped limit him to just 15 points in a game where he was expected to play big in order to carry Greece against the United States. Instead, he clearly showed some level of frustration with Greece’s inability to crack the United States’ defense, by picking up a bad frustration foul against Kemba Walker in the third quarter and then jawing with Jaylen Brown afterwards following a hard foul from Thanasis Antetokounmpo against Harrison Barnes at the end of the game.
As a team, Greece shot just 32%, which itself was only slightly worse than Team USA’s paltry 36% shooting. The difference on the scoreboard was largely made up by a free throw disparity, where Team USA shot an effective 14-16, while Greece languished at just 4-10, including an 0-2 night at the line from Antentokounmpo.
The win moves Team USA into the Quarterfinal round with a game left to play. With Lithuania’s heartbreaking elimination from Quarterfinal contention, Turner will be the lone Indiana Pacers player to move on in the World Cup. The United States will wrap up Second Round play on Monday when they face Brazil and former Pacer Leandro Barbosa.