With the round of 16 starting tomorrow Team USA will face Mexico. Mexico finished 4th in Group D with a record of 2-3. The USA went 5-0 in Group C with a minor scare against Turkey.
These are three things that I will keep my eye on during the game.
1. How much will Kyrie Irving play?
The last time we seen Kyrie Irving he was limping off the court after falling on his hip in the last minute against Ukraine. Irving tweeted after the game that he was all good. Before leaving Irving had 11 points, 6 assists and 4 steals. He was playing well as the starting point guard for Team USA. He was shooting 50% from beyond the arc and playing some good defense averaging 2.2 steals per game. Although Irving claims to be fine, coach K could keep him out of the game against Mexico and let Derrick Rose start. The guards for Team USA have started to play better and a start for Rose can help his confidence going forward.
2. Team USA 3 point shooting
This team is loaded with great three point shooters but they have not shot the ball well in FIBA. In Group play they shot 31-90 from beyond the arc for 34.4%. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are the only players who have hit double digit threes, 10 and 11 respectively. James Harden has struggled from three point land shooting 3-13. Derrick Rose has only hit 1 three pointer on 10 attempts and as mentioned before Kyrie Irving is shooting 5-10 for 50%. The team has yet to knock down 10 threes in a game. There best performance was 8-22 against Turkey. This team really needs to shoot the ball better from outside. They need to move the ball around early to get better shots.
3. Anthony Davis's Assertiveness
Anthony Davis was very good in Group play but he needs to be more assertive. In the game against Turkey he was scoreless in the 1st half. He finished that game with 19 points as team USA took over the game. He’s shooting the ball well, defending the rim and rebounding but he needs to be more aggressive. After shooting 20 free throws in their first 3 games, he did not take a free throw against the Dominican Republic or Ukraine. They need AD to establish his dominance early in these games. With him and Faried scoring in the paint, teams will try to double them and that will open the floor for the three point shooters.