Team USA basketball head into their final group game against Argentina not quite looking the all-powerful Dream Team they were hyped up to be (Monday, August 6, 5.15pm New York time & 10.15pm in London).
Let’s make no mistake, the USA are the No.1 basketball team in the world. Unfortunately, they are struggling to show it on a consistent basis.
The type of game against Nigeria was expected, and it was a much-needed show of dominance and power. The USA’s 83-point difference from a 156-73 win was humiliating for Nigeria, and it even led to unwarranted criticism of the USA “jacking up the score.” Very sorry, but isn’t that the point of sports? The USA should not have to apologize for being greatly superior to a team who evidently have no place at these Olympics.
The game against Lithuania on the weekend, however, was something a little closer to home. The NBA stars of the United States went head-to-head with a team who gave them an NBA-like challenge. Lithuania were far from intimidated.
What it came down to was a lack of high-quality defense from a team who should be coasting this tournament.
It’s difficult to say whether the USA struggled to get out of the starting gates early again, as they did against Tunisia, but Lithuania ran them very close. A tight game that was swung in the US’s favour by the awesome LeBron James, who really stepped into the clutch role late in the game.
Carmelo Anthony has been America’s most consistent player throughout the Olympics, carrying on with Lithuania to the same tune of his outstanding performance against Nigeria. His 37pts in 14 minutes against Nigeria is an eye watering statistic. ’Melo announced himself on the weekend with a three – yes, another three – and remained a constant throughout the game.
While the players may be struggling to come to terms with the fact that there cannot be five superstars or big egos on the court, Carmelo Anthony has been Coach K’s most reliable source of offence.
We may see another tight game between the US and Argentina in the final Group game. Argentina have NBA talent, but nowhere near the depth of their opponents.
Kevin Love was particularly disappointing from the line against Lithuania. And in Tyson Chandler, we’re seeing a player who is maybe not feeling wholly comfortable in this unfamiliar Olympic environment.
Anthony Davis, the upcoming star in the side, was unfortunate not to see any minutes against Lithuania. The game never really allowed Coach K to ease off the gas a little and throw a rookie into the mix. Sure, Davis has been impressive in his cameos – and there is a lot of interest in this year’s number one draft pick – but experience won their last game, not the clinics we’ve seen in previous games.
Hopefully we’ll see a little more of Davis going into the last group game, as his height will be a great advantage under the hoop.
While players like Manu Ginobili will be key, expect Argentina to find a lot of their success through persistent fouls.
The Americans will need to play smart basketball – and they are more than capable of it. Turning up early to play to their strengths will be a start. We need to see more from LeBron over the whole of the game, rather than in patches.
Rebounds will also be important, as the bigger players on the USA team will need to be playing aggressive offensive and defensive games.
Where to place your bets on Team USA v Argentina match
Do I expect Argentina to pull off a shock? No. But they will hassle and frustrate the Americans. What will swing it the way of the States is that these are NBA superstars. Not only do they have the talent to beat any side in the world but they can play to a much higher tempo than anyone in the competition. That is an unmistakable advantage. Expect Team USA to win, but not by the dominant margin of 24 points that the online sportsbooks think they will reach on the points spread.
- Back Argentina + 23.5pts with Bet365 (if you are not American).
- Wager on Argentina + 24.5pts with BetOnline (if you are from the USA).