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Popovich Has Praise For Team USA’s Jayson Tatum

As the former Duke star is carving out a role off the bench

Olympics: Basketball-Men Group A - USA-CZE
Jul 31, 2021; Saitama, Japan; Team United States small forward Jayson Tatum (10) blocks a shot by Team Czech Republic power forward Patrik Auda (1) in the fourth quarter during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. 
Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA enters knockout play on Tuesday taking on Spain which has been a serious challenge for the US over the last several Olympics.

The US blew out the Czech Republic and one of the reasons why they did so was because of the outstanding play of former Blue Devil Jayson Tatum.

And while coach Gregg Popovich has gotten his fair share of criticism over the shaky start the US had but clearly the team has played better in the last two outings and in the Czech win, Tatum played very well indeed, scoring 27 points on 10-16 from the floor.

So what accounted for that outburst?

Well maybe Popovich just pushed the right button: he told Tatum to just play like he was playing the Spurs.

And if you’ll remember, the Spurs found Tatum very tough to defend indeed, as he scored 60 against San Antonio this year.

Whatever it was, if Tatum can maintain that level of play, it’ll be a massive boost for the US.

Popovich is impressed with his improvement but also hopes for better rebounding. We’ll see how that works out against Spain.