Team USA and Donovan Mitchell didn’t expect to be tested this early in the tournament. The Americans would end up winning this game by 21 points (Team USA 88- Czech Republic 67), but before second half heroics of Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell, the Czechs were not going to be pushed around.
You gotta give it to the Czech Republic. They were heavy underdogs going into this morning’s matchup with Team USA. Despite those odds, they put up a fight with Team USA’s star-laden squad. Led by Tomas Satoransky who had 17 points and 5 assists, the Czech Republic tested Team USA in the 1st quarter. They took a quick lead then only trailed by 3 points to end the 1st quarter.
Team USA got a big boost in the 1st quarter when Derrick White checked in. The starting lineup for Team USA seemed to have their nerves controlling the game. Derrick White’s energy was the spark Team USA needed. He had a couple quick buckets including one monster slam on a cut to the rim.
Keeping the Americans afloat in that 1st quarter were Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Harrison Barnes. In the second quarter, Team USA locked down on defense. Donovan Mitchell checked back in and was a man on a mission on the defensive side of the ball. He locked down his defender and Team USA started creating turnovers. Harrison Barnes had a strong quarter with Kemba Walker.
After the 1st half Donovan Mitchell had 5 points ... then the 2nd half happened. Whatever Pop told him at halftime, it clicked with him. Donovan Mitchell would not miss a shot and put on a show with layups, threes, crossovers, and a signature dunk to send the Chinese crowd home happy.
Donovan Mitchell would finish as Team USA’s leading scorer with 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting while shooting 50% from three. Mitchell added 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal to his line. He was unselfish when he needed to be, he played lockdown defense, and he buried the Czech Republic in the 2nd half to put this game out of doubt. He looked like the star of the game.
The United States picks up action again Tuesday, September 3rd at 6:30AM as they face off against Turkey led by Cedi Osman, Furkan Korkmaz, and Ersan Ilyasova. Turkey is coming off a win against Japan.
Harrison Barnes continues to impress me with Team USA. I never would have thought of myself as a Harrison Barnes fan—honestly, I’d admit to thinking he was overrated as a volume scorer on a bad team in Dallas—but with Team USA he plays good defense and makes the right play. The Sacramento Kings knew what they were doing when they traded for him. His play is going to translate great for the Kings once the season starts. Barnes finished the game with 14 points on 5/8 shooting.
Jayson Tatum seems to always have 2-3 plays a game where he wows you on the drive then struggles to finish at the rim. The potential he has is insane, but he’s still young. He’s an elite catch and shoot player, and can light it up quick when he gets those opportunities. I hope Boston fans are patient with his development. He may not be ready to be THE guy in Boston for two more years, but he’s definitely ahead of schedule for his age. He struggled a bit on the court, but defensively he was sound. He finished with 10 points on 4/11 shooting with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and one highlight block.
Kemba is so much fun. Kemba was a close second to who I wanted to see in Utah behind Conley, but man Kemba is so fun to watch on the offensive end of the ball. He had some amazing stepbacks and crossovers. He’s got great finesse. He may make the Celtics likable again.