Zach LaVine ends exhibition game on a high note as US team now look to Tokyo Olympics
It was a checkered show list for Zach LaVine and Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. They lost their first two games to Nigeria and Australia, then settled several roster issues, with Bradley Beal and Kevin Love ultimately being replaced by Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee. The rematch against Australia has been called off due to COVID-19 issues.
However, the vibes are a bit better now as Team USA heads to Tokyo. After struggling in the first half, LaVine and his fellow Americans crushed another gold medal contender in Spain in the second half to claim an 83-76 victory on Sunday. LaVine was calm in the first half due to a fault issue, only to start in the second half with some clutch 3s and two more monster dunks.
LaVine – who started again with Beal now off the roster – finished with 13 points, two rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. He shot 5 of 8 from the field and 3 of 5 at 3 points. What about those aforementioned dunks? Enjoy:
LaVine was third for Team United States in scoring in shows with a total of 43 points in all four games, behind only Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant. Even with Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are set to show up after the NBA FinalsLaVine should be online for some more play now that Beal is gone. While Zach had his issues defensively, it was nice to see him fight there, especially when he was trying to face bigger players in the post. He was beaten a few times, but he competed and brought energy.
LaVine and Team USA will start the Olympic match against France on Sunday. They are joined in Group A by Iran and the Czech Republic. Tomas Satoransky is the only other bull that will compete in the Olympics as a star for the Czechs. Sato beat Canada in the semifinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament, then the Czech Republic crushed Greece to advance to Tokyo.
Following the Olympic opener against France, the United States will face Iran on July 28 and the Czech Republic on July 31. The Olympic quarter-finals will begin on August 2. The Americans will seek their fourth consecutive gold medal. Despite a rocky start for their show slate, the US team is still set to take gold, but it won’t be fun. Hopefully LaVine helps them get there.
Plus, in case you missed it, LaVine did a great interview with Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago and spoke about his experience with Team USA, his contractual situation, Patrick Williams and a lot of other Bulls stuff. Definitely worth reading (or listening to on the podcast).