In the semifinals of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Team USA beat Lithuania by a score of 96-68. The game was a tale of two halves, with the first half being more physical and Lithuania keeping it close, but the second half saw a much more up and down game complementing the Americans and letting them pull away. Kyrie Irving led the way in points with 18 and James Harden scored 16 in the third quarter that saw the Americans put the game out of reach for Lithuania.
In the first half, Team USA got off to a very slow start, with Harden and Steph Curry getting into early foul trouble. Lithuania was not able to take advantage of the slow start, as they could not get into a rhythm offensively either. Even as the US got into more of a groove through the first half, they were never really able to pull away and grow the lead. For the second game in a row, Harden failed to score in the first half, highlighting his team’s offensive struggles. Klay Thompson’s defense and ability to score from anywhere on the floor is really what carried his team to a 43-35 halftime lead.
Team USA started the second half knowing they could put away Lithuania with a good run and that is exactly what they did. Almost immediately the eight-point halftime lead grew to about 20 with some great play in transition. For Lithuania to stay with the Americans, they knew it needed to be a slower more physical style game and that is how the first half played out. In the second half, that completely changed and the game became much more up and down, suiting Team USA and helping them grow their lead. James Harden scoring 16 in the quarter after being held scoreless in the first half highlighted the third quarter surge by the Americans.
Team USA had such a great third quarter that the fourth quarter was played with Lithuania trailing by 25 points for the most part. What has been such an advantage for the Americans this tournament has been their balance in the box score. Seven players have averaged at least 9.5 points through the tournament and this semifinal matchup was no different with six players scoring eight points or more.
Next up for Team USA, they will face the winner of the other semifinal match between France and Serbia in the gold medal matchup. Lithuania will get a chance to medal in the third place game against the losing team of the other semifinal. France got to the semifinals after beating heavy favorite and host nation of Spain. A lot was made coming into the tournament about how this version of Team USA was tailored for a possible matchup with Spain. But now after losing in the quarterfinals, that highly anticipated matchup will not happen and the hosts will not even get the chance to medal.
Team USA cruised past Lithuania by a score of 96-68 in the semifinals of the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Next up, they will look to win the gold medal against either France or Serbia on the September 14.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius