Ever since the record-breaking game against Nigeria, this team has distance itself from its identity.
Against one-win Lithuania, USA narrowly escaped by five points thanks to LeBron James taking over in the last five minutes of the game. Lithuania scored 94 points and shot a blistering 58.5 percent from the field.
In the next game against Argentina, USA won 126-97. However, the 97 points allowed was too much of a hassle. This team’s goal was defense first.
While USA shot 51.1 percent, Argentina was a notch under at 50.8 percent. Pretty evenly matched offensively.
Against Australia, USA started off with defensive intensity. They had held Australia to 38.9 shooting – typical team USA defense. But the game was still close going into halftime. USA has the propensity to put opponents away in the third quarter. USA has a +87 advantage on opponents in the third quarter, easily more than in any other quarter. However, Australia kept it a 14-point game going into the fourth. USA dodged another piercing bullet thanks to the all-around play of LeBron, and the second half shooting of Kobe Bryant.
For the second time in a matter of a days, USA will take on Argentina. Argentina isn’t afraid of USA, as it showed Monday when one of the Argentinean players delivered a cheap shot to Carmelo Anthony. No love has been lost between these two ever since Argentina defeated USA in 2004. It’s a safe bet to say vengeance will be in mind, especially for LeBron and Melo, who were on that team.
Something needs to be said for Argentina, who didn’t play Manu Ginobili or Luis Scola as much as expected. Speculation would lead me to believe that they conserved their energy.
If USA sticks to its blueprint – playing suffocating defense – then all will be well. I’d like to see them operate in the paint more. It would make their offensive much easier, as they showed from time to time against Australia.
From here on out, USA should attempt to play flawless basketball, and even if they don’t, it probably wouldn’t matter. They seem to have the mindset that it’s okay to turn it on whenever. By now, I hope they know that this is a dangerous ploy to pull.
Follow on Twitter @Midwaylc