The U.S. Men’s basketball team is currently 2-0 in group play at the Olympics, but will face their toughest opponent so far when they play Australia on Wednesday.
After a dominating rout of China in their first game, many U.S fans believed the team would do the same thing to Venezuela, especially after struggling during an exhibition game against the Venezuelans before the Olympics started. However, Venezuela gave the United States a run for its money on Monday, before being overwhelmed by the athleticism and depth of the American team.
Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, who missed the London Olympics after a gruesome leg injury during the lead up to the Olympics, led the way for the U.S. with 20 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter.
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Four other American players finished with double digit scoring, including elder statesman Carmelo Anthony, who moved past Michael Jordan for third place on the all-time Olympic scoring list.
When asked about the slow start and the comeback the team made in the second quarter, Jimmy Butler said, “Basically the first thing we talked about was guard without fouling,” said Butler, who finished with 17 points and was 8-of- 8 from the free throw line. “We used our hands a little bit too much, bailing them out on a lot of their baskets. We just have to get off to a better, faster start, which we know. We can’t dig ourselves a hold. When we pick it up, we’re really hard to match up with. The way we play defense, if we guard like that for 40 straight minutes, we’ll be in a great position to win.”
The United States had a two point lead over the determined Venezuelan team with seven minutes left in the first half, but turned up their defense and finished the second quarter on a 24-4 run, which proved to be too much for Venezuela to overcome. Against Australia, they will try to avoid being in the same predicament because the Aussies have a much better team than Venezuela does.
Australia defeated France and Serbia in their first two games, and sit at the top of the Group A table with the United States. Unlike the U.S. team’s first two opponents, the Australians have a big man that can help them slow down the American front court of DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan in Andrew Bogut.
Matthew Dellavedova is another NBA player on the Australian team that can score points and defend the perimeter.
On paper, the United States are still the better team, but stranger things have happened. If the Americans struggle offensively like they did against Venezuela in the first half on Monday, the Australians can take advantage of the opportunity and hand the U.S. its first loss in three Olympics.
Australia is also one of the best defensive teams in the Olympics, which will make it harder for the United States to come from behind.
USA vs Australia Spread
Bovada.lv has the Americans as 28 point favourites in this game. Here’s our full review of Bovada for you to check out.
Despite the defensive prowess of the Australian team, it is still the United State’s tournament to lose so I’m picking the American team to win in dominant fashion once more.
Play: Team USA -28 @ Bovada.lv
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