Team USA’s Kevin Durant knows all too well what he saw from Klay Thompson in Sunday afternoon’s victory over France. Thompson’s new Olympic and Golden State Warriors’ teammate has seen the guard enter unconscious butter mode as a suffering opponent before, in which Thompson thoughtlessly tosses up three-pointers, seemingly at one with the universe as the net whooshes with each succeeding make.
Thompson’s 30-point performance was the nudge his American squad needed on Sunday. USA looked listless against Serbia after their first close game against Australia, and although their victory over the French was another narrow one at 100-97, perhaps the heretofore slumping Thompson’s spark can bring their moxie out of hibernation. The victory concludes group play, so now the Americans will be in a fight-for-your-life situation every time they take the court in Brazil.
America, despite their sluggish performance thus far, are still the odds-on favorites to win the gold medal, and of course the rest of the field isn’t close. And yet there is a feverish thrill to watching them come so close to losing, when the expectations are so high. Now, with the preliminary rounds over, that feeling heightens. Be sure to tune in when the quarterfinals begin on Wednesday, and the USA begins its do-or-die defense of the gold.