Team USA headed over to Rio with a crop of new faces and fresh talent for the Olympics. Despite the lack of other-worldly ability that was featured in 2008 and 2012, USAB’s roster is still loaded with the globe’s best basketball players, and the United States is primed for another gold medal run.
The first preliminary game was against China, who the red, white, and blue romped in two of their exhibition games. By the end of the night on Saturday, the United States had blown out China, 119-62, and gave any worried fans no reasons to worry.
No Pass-First Point Guards, No Problem
Unlike prior Olympics, Team USA doesn’t have a “true” point guard on their roster; no version of Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, or Deron Williams. Instead, they have Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry, who embody the modern playmaking point guard.
Even better for USAB is that their entire roster is made up of playmakers, so the open man is going to be found no matter what; Irving, the starting PG, dished out five assists but Kevin Durant was the one who led the team in that category with six.
Of the 38 field goals they made, 31 were assisted on. Clearly, there’s no point guard issue. There was some speculation that, because they have so many playmakers, the team would end up in too many 1-on-1 situations, but the Saturday’s game squashed that premise — even if the players were to end up playing individual offense, who’s going to stop Uncle Drew, Durant, or anyone else for that matter?
Defense, Rebounding Better Than Expected
In their exhibition games, the efforts on defense and on the glass were spectacular — in this game, it was better. Despite China having an incredibly tall roster, the United States pounded them on the glass, 52-29. DeAndre Jordan and Carmelo Anthony led the States with seven apiece, and Jimmy Butler wasn’t far away with six of his own. China may have had the height to up and grab the boards, but the strength and athleticism of America’s bigs were tough to match.
What allowed them to inhale all these boards was their splendid defense, and China got forced into a ton of bad, long-range shots. Of the 56 shot attempts by the Chinese team, just 18 of them came in the paint, and their shooting percentage overall was roughly 36 percent. However, the did get to the free throw line a decent amount of times, 17/24, but vanquished many chances by committing 24 turnovers, resulting in 33 points for Team USA.
This trend should continue for the U.S., as there are so much length and size on the perimeter and in the paint.
The Offense Will Come, And It’ll Come Fast
After the game against Venezuela when USAB mustered just 80 points, some worried if they could sustain their offense throughout the Olympics. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if they can’t maintain an offense like that because their defense is so stalwart. It was just one game, though, and the inside/outside attack worked marvelously against China.
Spurred by Durant’s 25 on 10/14 shooting, the United States had three other players score more than ten: DeMarcus Cousins (17), Paul George (15), and Kyrie Irving (12). Overall, USAB shot 51 percent from the field, 60 percent on two-point shots, and 37 from three, with a nice deviation from where they came.
As is Team USA’s dominance wasn’t justified enough, the game featured one lead change, and China led for just 34 seconds of the forty-minute contest.
Next Game: Monday, August 8 at 6 PM EST against Venezuela
Data courtesy of USAB
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