Back Where They Belong

A few weeks ago, Team USA lost to Australia for a second straight exhibition defeat. Some doubted they’d even make it out of group play in Tokyo.

The road hasn’t been easy, but now they’re one win away from Olympic gold in men’s basketball after defeating that same Australian team 97-87 on Wednesday night.

  • Team USA is looking for a fourth consecutive gold and 16th all-time.
  • They missed their first 10 three-pointers and trailed by 15 in the first half.
  • The U.S. is now 9-0 in the Olympics against Australia, which has never won a medal.

After another typically slow start, the United States roared back behind Kevin Durant’s 23 points, Devin Booker’s 20, and Jrue Holiday’s near-triple-double.

The Americans’ recovery in both the seminal and the tournament as a whole — they dropped their first group game to France — was all but predestined, given the high expectations that accompany their big-money star power.

The aforementioned trio, along with Bam Adebayo and Damian Lillard, make for a starting unit that earned a combined $160.6 million in the 2020-21 NBA season.

Compare that to an Australia squad with only four NBA players in the starting five who combined for $32.8 million in 2021 salary.

The only remaining obstacle: France, which snapped the Americans’ 25-game Olympic winning streak on July 25 and edged out Luka Doncic’s Slovenia 90-89 in the other semifinal.