Australia gave the USA their best run after they owned a late first-half 41-26 lead, but then Team USA put on one of the most dominant performances in recent history to win 97-78 at the Saitama Super Arena.
The fact that the USA missed their first 10 three-point attempts made it easier for the Boomers to stay in front for the entire first half, but it all went downhill after the break. Gregg Popovich and his crew now await the winner of the all-European Semi-Final between Slovenia and France.
Australia’s hedge defense and pressure outside of the arc forced the USA offensive to attack the rim but kept them quiet from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Boomers had all the answers when the Americans switched on the other end of the court as they opened up a 41-26 lead.
But similar to what they did against Spain, the Americans bounced back late in the first half to make that gap vanish. Their switches became a bit more aggressive, and they forced three straight turnovers by Australia in the last 90 seconds of the half. With Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and Kevin Durant all making big shots, Team USA pulled within 45-42 at the break.
That was just a blueprint for the third quarter. Australia couldn’t get anything going, and with each miss, the floor was becoming more open for the USA players to run. Run they did, 32-10 the margin of the third quarter to change the question mark about their ambitions here into a gigantic exclamation mark.
Kevin Durant was sensational again, keeping the USA alive in the first half and finishing things up in the second. KD’s efforts saw him net a stat line of 23 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block. Honorable mention: Devin Booker’s hyper-efficient 20 points on 10 shots.
This semi-final game looked like a shaky road, but the USA are back to the Final again to go for their fourth straight Olympic gold. Australia gave them their best shot, but it feels like they missed Aron Baynes a lot in their interior rotation. The big man suffered a neck injury earlier in the tournament.