As Team USA basketball head into their next game against Nigeria on Thursday, the only thing they should be fearing is their own complacency.
Yet even if the star-studded US team turns up with little motivation for an opponent who are obviously hugely inferior to them, they’ll still run out comfortable winners following four quarters of play.
But it was the late start to their game against Tunisia on Tuesday night which would have been of greatest concern to coach Mike Krzyzewski. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and Kobe Bryant, who took to the court first for the USA, really didn’t seem too concerned with the occasion. Sure, it’s not an NBA arena, but the prize at the end of the tournament is equally as real as an NBA title.
UK & other nations: Bet365 have betting on this match with Team USA at 10/11 betting odds with a -41.5 handicap
Tunisia started out well against the US side and surprisingly took a lead early on. But in an even more unlikely move, Coach K opted to completely change his line up and bring on his “reserves” to get the USA out of their slump.
Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony were among those to replace the starters and immediately things started to pick up. The USA were direct and in no mood for an opposition who were more fans than equals, and the reserves began the process of raising that huge lead that many expected.
On the day, Carmelo Anthony was outstanding, barely putting a foot wrong and establishing himself early as the leading point scorer for Team USA on the night. Coach K in particular will be hoping for a similar performance against Nigeria on Thursday from the New York Knicks forward.
Lebron James was another to really set the tone for the night, as he executed an outstanding one-handed dunk. A feat that brought much excitement to the 12,000 in attendance.
And against Nigeria, we can expect Russell Westbrook to continue on from his excellent performance on Tuesday night. The Oklahoma City Thunder guard began a process which turned the game into an exhibition and a clinic for the fans, rather than a competition against an Olympic opponent.
Notably, Anthony Davis was also in the mood to show what he could do alongside his exceptionally talented team-mates. This year’s number one pick in the draft had seen little minutes in the USA’s opening game, but a considerable lead over Tunisia meant there was a low-pressure environment for the 19-year old to excel in.
The former University of Kentucky star hovered under the hoop for much of his time on the court and was set up by his teammates for a succession of outstanding dunks.
This is the youngster’s first experience playing on a court with established NBA stars. And ahead of his debut with the New Orleans Hornets next season, you’d hope to see a lot more of the 6ft10 talent at these Olympics.
Nigeria, on the other hand, should represent a tougher test than what Tunisia brought forward, at least on paper. The team have a number of NBA-tested players, and they’re also equipped with the height and power to exert some force on the US.
But it’s a long shot. In fact it’s well beyond the realms of anything remotely logical. This USA team will face real challenges at the Olympics, but it won’t be against Nigeria.
Team USA v Nigeria Betting Tips Conclusion
The USA’s final score against Tunisia of 110-63 was a reminder of their dominance in the competition, but also of their ability to really humiliate their opponents.
Let’s hope to see a little more from LeBron, Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul from the get go. If the USA are in the mood on Thursday night, it is sure to be a long and embarrassing game for Nigeria.
Expect Team USA to defy the 42-point handicap that the bookies have adopted as the point that levels the playing field.
Betting Tip: Bet on USA -42 points to beat Nigeria.