I teased the idea of a USA - Turkey finale at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in my NBA Notes column yesterday, and sure enough, that's what we're going to end up seeing. Team USA knocked off Lithuania, 89-74, behind 38 points from Kevin Durant. Meanwhile, Turkey eliminated Serbia, (barely) 83-82, with our own Semih Erden making his presence felt in a big way in the final minute. He not only converted a dunk with 16.8 seconds left, giving Turkey an 81-80 advantage, but he swatted Serbia's potential game-winning shot away as time expired. He finished with nine points (3-4 shooting), two rebounds, and that crucial block in 21 minutes.
This all sets up tomorrow's USA - Turkey finale (2:30pm on ESPN), and it'll be interesting to watch Erden go up against quality NBA talent. Also, aside from being crowned World Champions, tomorrow's game holds considerable weight for Team USA, as Marc Stein of ESPN tweets:
Enormity of Sunday's game can't be understated for Team USA. Home-court advantage helps give dangerous Turks real chance of winning AND ...
Loss to Turkey forces Team USA to qualify for 2012 Olympics. And if lockout hits, Team USA might be trying to qualify w/out key NBA players
Also...here's an interesting (and Celtics-related) stat:
Kevin Durant has so far tallied 177 total points through the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which is just one behind the 178 total points Paul Pierce scored in the 2002 World Championship. Pierce is tied for third-all time in U.S. history for most points scored in a single World Championship, behind Luther Burden, who wracked up 182 points in 1974, and Carmelo Anthony, who put in 179 points back in 2006. He'll most likely be tied for fourth after tomorrow's game. If I were a betting man, I'd say Kevin Durant's bound to score at least two points tomorrow.