Team USA had not lost a basketball game in the Olympics since the 2004 Athens games. That was until Sunday when France took down the U.S. in the first game of group play, 83-76. Two Celtics players represented their countries, with Jayson Tatum donning the American red, white and blue and pending free agent Evan Fournier rocking the French jersey.
If you had to guess which player shined and which one flopped, most people would say Tatum put on a show and Fournier faltered. It would be the logical guess since Tatum is a bona fide all-star who averaged more than double the amount of points and rebounds that Fournier had this past season. However, it was quite the opposite.
Fournier was easily the player in the game. He led all scorers with 28 points, while knocking down four threes along the way. The guard was responsible for a third of France’s scoring. Fournier also stepped up down the stretch, knocking down a big three with a minute left to put his country back on top (with some help from a former Celtic).
Evan Fournier go-ahead 3 after the Yabu hustle pic.twitter.com/G8SLeF0XBg— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) July 25, 2021
“They are better individually but they can be beaten as a team,” Fournier said after the win. The loss snapped Team USA’s 25-game Olympic win streak.
Tatum didn’t help his team much. The forward came off the bench, scoring only nine points and shooting just 33 percent. What was even more worrisome was his shooting from deep. Tatum went 1-of-5 from beyond the three-point line. To put that in perspective, out of the 64 games he played last season for the Celtics, Tatum shot worse than that from deep only eight times.
Despite the struggles, Tatum did have one nice play where he finished over his Celtics teammate.
Jayson Tatum over his Celtics teammate. pic.twitter.com/o14PuWzmvu— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) July 25, 2021
Tatum and Team USA are back in action on Wednesday when they take on Iran.