Team USA dominated Venezuela 113-69 to collect its second win of the 2016 Olympic games. While the final score was not close the game was not always so one sided. Through the first quarter and a half, Team USA allowed Venezuela to keep the game close through a combination of poorly timed fouls and bad offensive execution. Klay Thompson in particular had a rough night, but at the end of the day the US was just too deep and talented for Venezuela to pose any real threat.
From a Cavaliers vantage point, this was another successful game. Kyrie Irving’s box score might not be the most impressive, as he tallied only seven points and three assists, but the Cavalier guard was a spark plug for Team USA when they needed it most. In particular the the second quarter really emphasized why Kyrie Irving is so important for this United States team.
Irving brings something to the table that no other American guard does, Irving is far and away the best American guard at creating plays. The United States roster boasts some of the best players in the world and the guard position is no exception. Thompson, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are all fantastic players with marvelous skill sets.
But they are not Irving. Kyrie can dismantle a defender off the dribble and create offense for himself. He can take it the hole or shoot off a pull up. He can spot up shoot or create in the pick and roll. And in a tournament with rosters that do not normally play together and that are hampered by limited practice time, having a player who can do what Kyrie can is a saving grace. But Kyrie’s utility to team USA isn't only found in his scoring ability but also in his ability to adapt to playing alongside other world class creators. Kyrie’s years of playing along side the worlds best player, LeBron James, has him well prepared to share the court with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Irving has shown he knows when to feed his juggernaut forward line and when to take over the game himself. It is evident when watching Irving on the court that he has a feel for these things now. He is battle tested and a closer. A close game against Venezuela is not going to phase the man who hit the shot to win the NBA Finals. Simply put when Team USA needs bucket, like it did today in the second quarter, they do not have to worry they just have to call upon their starting point guard.
Team USA looks to continue its Olympic domination Wednesday in a big test against undefeated ex-Cavalier Matthew Dellavedova Australia.