The United States men’s national team hung on to beat a tough Serbia team 94-91 on Friday night. The story of the game was Serbian center Nikola Jokic, who tallied 25 points and six rebounds. This was the second straight game that Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA struggled against a team with far less talent.
The Serbian team utilized great ball movement and fantastic court vision to get easy looks inside all game while Team USA’s offense was largely stagnant. Given the expectations that many had for the U.S. heading into the Olympics, this game was very concerning. Instead of being motivated by a closer than necessary game against Australia Team, the Americans laid another egg.
At times, it looked the U.S. did come to play. Team USA lead the game by as many as 18 points, but Serbia would not go away quietly. The Americans relied heavily on pick and roll and isolations on offense ,but the Serbian team stayed disciplined. They forced Carmelo Anthony and company to turn the ball over twelve times. DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green struggled to contain Jokic, and the whole team got caught watching the ball way too frequently on the defensive end.
If there was a bright spot in this game it was that Kyrie Irving lead the team in points, scoring 15 points while also tallying five assists.
But despite the nice stat line,he was not perfect. Irving struggled in the final minutes of the game and cost the team on a bad turnover.
Team USA’s next game is on Sunday against France. They will need a much better effort on offense and defense to remain unbeaten in this tournament.