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Jayson Tatum getting to the basket for Team USA in their overtime win against Turkey. Photo via Yifan Ding 
In an extremely ugly game this morning Team USA somehow came out on top against Turkey after overtime in both lucky and unlucky ways.
A close game through the first half, Team USA managed to hold on to a 47-42 lead, but it was the third quarter where signs of concern started to pop up.

Turkey came charging back and if not for a big buzzer-beater at the end of the third by Kemba Walker, Team USA would have only been up by one point and things might not have ended up going their way.

Fortunately, Walker did hit the tough deep three to close out the third and gave America a 65-61 point lead.
Now, this is where the madness began. The game was a massive back and forth for both teams for the rest of regulation only to come down Turkey finally taking a lead with about 12 seconds left.

Thankfully, Jayson Tatum was able to draw a foul at the three-point line with literally 0.1 seconds on the clock and had he hit all three, Team USA most likely would have come out with the win in regulation.

However, he hit the first, missed the second, and then hit the third to tie the game. Team USA and Turkey were going to overtime and that missed free throw from Tatum could have ended up having not just a big effect on this particular game, but possibly his career as a whole.
In overtime, Kemba Walker took over for most of the offensive efforts for Team USA and even had some big defensive moments as well. With America mostly behind on the scoreboard in overtime, they certainly needed Kemba at his best, and that's what he gave them. He managed to knock down a big three as well as some other impressive mid-range plays that made him once again look utterly unguardable.
He even ended up taking a big defensive charge at the basket late in the game that must have given Marcus Smart a massive grin on the sidelines.
Flashing forward to about ten seconds left in the game, this is where Team USA got extremely lucky. Down by one (92-91), Team USA's Joe Harris fouled Turkey's Dogus Balbay with what is known in FIBA play as an unsportsmanlike foul. In other words, he went for the intentional foul that would have been legal in the NBA, but because he didn't go directly for the ball it is illegal in FIBA play. Balbay was sent to the line for two free throws AND Turkey got the ball back with a one-point lead. He missed both free throws.

The luck continued for Team USA. Since Turkey had possession, Marcus Smart was forced to commit another personal foul, this time sending Cleveland Cavaliers player Cedi Osman to the line. He too missed both free throws.

Jayson Tatum managed to get the rebound and move the ball up the court to Khris Middleton who was fouled and sent to the line. He hit both and gave Team USA a one-point lead with two seconds left. Off of a timeout, Milwaukee Bucks player Ersan Ilyasova missed a three-point opportunity for Turkey and Team USA managed to escape barely with the win, but it was not without some bumps and bruises.

Unfortunately, on that assist to Middleton moving down the court, the Celtics' rising star Jayson Tatum appeared to have an ankle injury under the basket. Looking at the replay, it looks like his left ankle rolled off of a couple collisions from either side. While he did need help getting off the court after the play, he walked to the locker room independently from the bench.

While this might seem like the worst nightmare for Celtics' fans, I wouldn't overreact just yet. Judging by the play itself as well as Tatum's reactions afterward, I personally don't think it is too serious if serious at all. As of right now, the injury has been ruled as an ankle sprain according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
That could end up being the extent of it. A simple sprained ankle injury that happens all the time for basketball players. That being said, I'm no doctor so my advice would be to wait and hear what officially comes out about Tatum when he is re-evaluated tomorrow before going online and reacting as if Team USA ruined his career and the Celtics' season is over. I wouldn't be surprised if he was out for a few weeks at most but was completely fine for the start of the NBA in October.

That being said, the Celtics' representatives on the team did have a decent day in terms of America's overall play. Kemba Walker had the second-highest points total for Team USA with 14 points only behind Khris Middleton who had 15. He also finished with an impressive 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in 32 minutes of play. Not to mention his performance in overtime alone when his team certainly needed it most.

Despite that injury in the game's literal final seconds, Jayson Tatum did have a solid night in the box score. In 31 minutes of play, he finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds to go along with 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. The lows of his night come in his field goal shooting percentage (3/11 for 27% shooting) and his only missed free throw that ended up sending the game to overtime where the ankle injury eventually occurred.

Marcus Smart played 11 minutes and scored just 5 points. However, he did have a very big defensive play on Ilyasova on that last three-point attempt at the end of overtime.
Jaylen Brown didn't play much in the game as a whole, as he was only on the court for a total of 6 minutes where he scored just one point off of a free throw.

So in the end, the win was really ugly in pretty much every way possible. However, looking on the bright side there was a lot of exciting play from Walker that makes me even more pumped for next season and even though it wasn't pretty they did end up getting the win.

While they may not be as comfortable with leads or injury-proof as past Team USA squads have been in games, at the very least we can look at this FIBA tournament as a more competitive one that makes it more interesting to watch. Seeing a close competitive game like today's is pretty exciting and something positive I take away from having a relatively worse Team USA roster this year.

Now we just have to wait and see what happens with Tatum and look forward to the next game when Team USA plays Japan on Thursday, September 5th.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.

Thomas Desmond 9/03/2019 12:25:00 PM Edit
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