Jul 22, 2012, 6:17 PM EDT
Team USA was back in Barcelona, wearing 1992 Dream Team throwback jerseys, which led to another round of the Dream Team vs. 2012 team talk.
But the 2012 version of Team USA having to work for an 86-80 win Sunday over Argentina in an Olympics tune-up shows why comparing the two eras is hard (and why the 2012 team’s style can lead to some close games).
The first minutes of Sunday’s game looked like one of those old Dream Team routs. Team USA had Kevin Durant raining threes (he finished with 7 and a game-high 27 points, he will be the MVP of this team) and started out 7-of-7 from the floor and were quickly up 19-3. The USA had 13 fast break points in the first half. They overwhelmed Argentina.
But the Dream Team faced a bunch of international teams in awe of them who rolled over when the first run came. Those teams never dreamed of a comeback.
That is not Argentina. They roll out five NBA players (past or present) including scrappy veterans such as Manu Ginobili (23 points on the game), Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino. They have grown up together as Argentina’s golden generation, they won the gold medal in 2004 in Athens. And they will not quit.
Argentina ground the game down and executed with their passing (and a lot of step-back threes). They got back on defense to take away the easy fast break points that fuels Team USA. Argentina packed the paint on defense, went under picks and dared the USA to shoot jumpers. Team USA obliged and put up 34 threes in the game (hitting 13, 38.2 percent).
And while the USA would make runs, like they did again at the start of the second half to get the lead back up to 20, Argentina would just grind it back down. All the way down to a 78-74 USA lead with 2:45 left in the game. It took a Durant three, a Chris Paul three and some getting the ball inside for the USA to old on and win. Kobe Bryant added 18 for Team USA.
The USA’s aggressive attacking style that gives them the runs can make them more vulnerable against veteran sides that can handle the ball pressure better and know how to slow a game down.
Argentina is not better than the USA. Neither is Brazil (which led Team USA after a quarter) nor France. But those are good squads that can suck the USA into playing a different style. The USA goes on runs but lets up a little, and these team will not quit.
Then there is Spain, who beat Argentina by 20 a few days ago.
The USA plays Spain in a “friendly” on Tuesday in what should be a preview of the gold medal game in London.
It’s going to be the biggest test of the USA’s small lineup, as Spain starts Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol, then brings Serge Ibaka off the bench. Against Argentina Tyson Chandler was a huge impact in the game — he was +26 after three quarters — and he needs to stay on the court against Spain.
The USA is now 4-0 in tune-up games and what we’re judging them on is style points — are they looking as dominant as we expect and want them to be. Like we remember the Dream Team being. And so far this 2012 team has not always been that, not consistently. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is still playing with lineups (he changed it up again for this one, starting Chris Paul over Deron Williams) and trying out combinations. It’s a preseason game and you’re not playing to win so much as to experiment and see what works.
So you can’t take too much away from a closer-than-expected win over Argentina (USA was 28 point favorites). But what you can take away is that the road to gold in London is not a cakewalk. These teams will not just lie down for the Americans.
Jun 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
The next time the Bulls play a game Derrick Rose will be suited up and playing. Hopefully by a couple games into next season we can all move past the “why didn’t he play last season?” crap. But for now the issue keeps coming up in Chicago. It came up again recently when Bulls legend Scottie…
Jun 17, 2013, 8:54 PM EDT
Metta World Peace was in rare form today. He was on Sportsradio 610 in Houston — and let me say as a guy who has done a fair amount of radio spots with some quality hosts there, the buzz is all about Dwight Howard coming to the Rockets. If they are talking hoops, they are…
Jun 17, 2013, 7:02 PM EDT
The Celtics and Clippers are still discussing the trade that would send Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to Los Angeles, but the whole deal is predicated on Rivers wanting to coach the Clippers. So, even if the Celtics and Clippers agree how to handle Eric Bledsoe, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, Rivers still must give…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:51 PM EDT
Victor Oladipo has worked out for the Phoenix Suns. In Phoenix, he said he already worked out for the Orlando Magic and planned to work out for the Cleveland Cavaliers, though it’s not clear where those sessions occurred. Oladipo is preparing for the NBA Draft in Bowie, Md., which is about 20 minutes outside Washington,…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
Phil Jackson is unquestionably one of the greatest coaches of all time, but he didn’t get there by placating people or considering the feelings of others — especially those with seniority or who were holding down a higher-level position within the organization. Speaking at an event last week where Jackson was plugging his latest book,…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:12 PM EDT
Allen Iverson’s post-NBA life has been – sad to say, predictably – rough. He’s reportedly losing a lot of money and suffering from alcoholism, and those closest to him are especially worried. Unfortunately, it can get worse, and it might have already. TMZ: Tawanna Iverson just filed legal docs, claiming Allen recently asked for permission…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT
The Mavericks enter the off-season as one of the major players in free agency. Not only do they have money to spend, but they also have a history of championship level contention, a still very good Dirk Nowitzki, and Mark Cuban to close the deal when it’s time to make the pitch on why the…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:34 PM EDT
This is the time of year when teams and agents create smokescreens so thick, firefighters can’t get through them. So, approach any report like this with a healthy dose of skepticism. But also consider that a beat writer for a major newspaper was confident enough to report it. There’s a fine line, and from the…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:20 PM EDT
The Utah Jazz are updating their scoreboard that will sit high above center court at EnergySolutions Arena, and as you might imagine, the team is pretty excited about it. From the official release: “Miller Sports Properties today announced plans for a new center court high definition video display system that is seven times larger than its predecessor,…
Jun 17, 2013, 3:22 PM EDT
The subject of players selling contact to officials, or even downright faking it in hopes of duping a referee into blowing a favorable whistle has become a hotter topic than ever this season, thanks to a new anti-flopping policy enacted which was designed to clean this mess up. It hasn’t had the desired effect, however,…
Jun 17, 2013, 1:58 PM EDT
When I went to San Antonio to write this piece on Gregg Popovich (and, later, this piece on Tim Duncan) I was told, time and again, that the most popular San Antonio Spur in town, by far, is Manu Ginobili. At first, I found it a bit curious. I mean, Ginobili has been a terrific…
Jun 17, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
There is once again momentum to the idea that Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett (then later likely Paul Pierce) are headed to the Clippers. It may or may not happen, but a smart GM like Danny Ainge has to start planning for any eventuality. So, if Doc Rivers is gone from the bench in Boston,…
Jun 17, 2013, 1:22 PM EDT
This was expected to happen, but now it’s become official. Monta Ellis is going to opt out of the $11 million he is owed next season to become an unrestricted free agent, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN and other sources. Ellis is seeking 19.2 points and 6 assists for the Bucks last year. He is…
Heat must accomplish something they haven’t been able to in a month if they want to repeat as champions
Jun 17, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT
SAN ANTONIO — After falling to the Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, the Miami Heat find themselves in a most uncomfortable position. In order to win the championship that they were heavily favored to at the outset of the postseason, they’ll need to accomplish something that they haven’t been able…
Jun 17, 2013, 12:08 PM EDT
UPDATE 5:45 pm : This is getting close. The Celtics have agreed no Eric Bledsoe but they want the Clippers to take on one of their bad contracts, either Jason Terry or Courtney Lee. How that shakes out is really all that’s left, according to multiple reports. 12:08 pm: If you’re a Clippers fan who…
Jun 17, 2013, 12:07 PM EDT
SAN ANTONIO — Danny Green has been on a record-breaking tear with his three-point shooting through the first five games of the Finals, and he’s been a key reason the Spurs are taking a three games to two series lead back to Miami with two chances to close the Heat out. It isn’t just the…
Jun 17, 2013, 11:42 AM EDT
Tim Connelly has been a rising star in the front office world. He was with the Wizards and was hired away by the then Hornets (now Pelicans) to be an assistant general manager there behind Del Demps. Now he’s made the leap to the big chair. Connelly is going to be the new GM of…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:56 AM EDT
SAN ANTONIO — The MVPs for the Spurs Game 5 win you know — Manu Ginobili came back like the prodigal son to have a huge game, Danny Green knocked down any shot given inside the San Antonio city limits, and Tony Parker continues to be the guy who should get the Finals MVP award…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:21 AM EDT
While the talks to bring Doc Rivers in as coach of the Clippers — along with players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in a massive trade — are not dead, they are stalled out and on life support. So the Clippers are moving forward — they are going to bring in Brian Shaw for a…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT
The book is obviously still out on what kind of owner Vivek Ranadive will be for the Kings, but we do know this: The man is willing to write some nice sized checks. He got Pete D’Alessandro away from Denver as a general manager because he was willing to write a bigger check than the…
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