Team USA began the Second Round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup with a 69-53 win over Greece.
Myles Turner managed to record 8 points (50% FG, 100% FT), 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks in just 14 minutes. Most of his contributions occurred in the opening half as he did not have to play much to close out the game. His night ended at the 2:04 mark of the 3rd quarter with Team USA leading 50-35.
The significant challenge that Team USA faced in this game featured slowing down reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and forcing his teammates to beat them. That goal proved to be accomplished in the end and Myles played an integral part in the team’s efforts.
Giannis scored 15 points (63.6% FG, 50% 3P, 0% FT) and grab 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, his teammates combined for 40 points while shooting 14-of-55 (25.5%) from the field and 6-of-25 (24%) from beyond the arc. There was simply no overcoming supporting cast contributions for Giannis.
The strategy that was deployed to limit Giannis was to pack the paint and make him see extra bodies when they could reasonably do it. That would promote either difficult finishes, pass outs, or turnovers. That ended up limiting his impact within the half-court.
Myles found himself matched up directly with Antetokounmpo on a variety of possessions. Myles successfully slid his feet to stay in front of Antetokounmpo more often than not to force contested jump shots and pass outs. That’s not an easy task for any center to complete.
There was also greater usage of small ball units when Myles was on the bench with Marcus Smart featured at the center spot. This allowed for a fast unit that could swarm and pressure Giannis while being able to recover back onto their assignments.
Team USA has ramped up its defensive execution since barely scraping by Turkey. They have allowed a combined 98 points over their last two games. According to NBA.com, that is the fewest number of points that their program has allowed in consecutive games since 1988.
Team USA is back in action on Monday when they face Brazil at 8:30 PM EDT. That game can be streamed on the ESPN+ app.