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USA vs. Spain for the gold: We know how this is going to end

Aug 11, 2012, 2:21 PM EDT

US forward Carmelo Anthony (R) celebrate Getty Images

USA vs. Spain for the gold: We know how this is going to end. USA gold.

Spain has some real talent — Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol team up to make what would be the best front line in the NBA (well, maybe not anymore) and they surround the brothers with smart, playmaking guards who can shoot — Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos-Navarro, Rudy Fernandez. Spain can put up points.

And Spain has a plan for the USA — they learned some things in that exhibition loss to Team USA in Barcelona before the Olympics. Spain ran a zone on 15 of the 78 possessions in that game and the USA was 3-for-12 shooting with three turnovers against it. Expect to see a lot more of it now. Also, the USA struggled with the combo of Pau and Serge Ibaka, so Spain went away from it in that game, they will not go away from what works now.

And none of that is going to matter in the Gold Medal game Sunday.

When Team USA is playing well — when they are focused, pressuring on defense, sharing the ball and hitting threes — nobody can beat them. Nobody can stay close to them. Not Spain, not anybody.

And the USA, with as deep a team as they have had (at least since ’92) someone has always gotten hot. Usually it has been designated shooters Kevin Durant (18 points per game and shooting 55.8 percent from three for the Olympics) or Carmelo Anthony (17.4 points per game and 52.5 percent from three), but we have seen spurts of unstoppable play from LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook and everyone but Anthony Davis.

When the USA has struggled with teams — Lithuania, stretches against Argentina and even Australia — it is because two things happen. First, they take their foot off the defensive gas pedal, the pressure and intensity go away. Part of the USA’s strength is the depth of great athletes that wear teams down, but if the USA lets Spain have space and time to think they have the talent to make plays. They have to be pressured (and they have the talent to still make some good plays, just not enough).

Second, the threes don’t fall. That is the one thing that could undo the United States in the Gold Medal game. They are going to take more than 30 threes and if they hit 20 percent or less Spain has the offensive firepower to hang. Spain will live in their zone and let the USA launch threes all day.

But eventually they will fall. There is too much talent on the USA, too many good shooters, the shots will start to fall. They may not for a quarter or maybe a half, but they will.

And then the USA will run away with the game and gold. Spain is a good team, but nobody in the world is good enough.

  1. minnesotablizzard - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    I wish Rubio could have played in this game

  2. sellahh - Aug 11, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    If anything can hurt USA in this game it’s an attitude like ‘we’ve already won that game’. No, they didn’t actually and they’ll just need to come out and do work, if their attitude is anything like yours they have great chance of losing this one.

  3. vcupats - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    When did 3-point shooting become an Olympic sport?

  4. btwicey - Aug 11, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Gosh I will laugh if they lose

  5. londonaiooo - Aug 11, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    I hope it’s much closer than people think, especially as I’m going to be there and the atmosphere will be electric if Spain make a game of it. Viva Espana!

    • hannsta - Aug 11, 2012 at 9:41 PM

      Really? Go to Vegas and put your money where your mouth is if you think that :P Or you can just give it straight to me, then your money would at least be going to a good cause.

    • manchestermiracle - Aug 12, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      It IS much closer than people thought it would be, but only because the refs (like in the NBA) think all those people in the stands came to see them and not the players. There’s been no continuity to the game, which plays into Spain’s hands, because the refs keep calling fouls that don’t exist. Both teams already have players in foul trouble and the first half just ended. Thanks, refs, for wrecking what might have been a good game if you weren’t calling a supposed foul every time two players get near each other.

  6. theboysofdallas - Aug 11, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    USA=another gold

  7. gaykegayden - Aug 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    That’s cool Kurt, but I would have thought with your earlier mishaps that you’d have decided by now to stop being so smug and flippant in your predictions. We all know how well some of those turn out (Knicks will match any offer for Lin, almost 0 chance of USA and Spain meeting in Gold Medal game etc.)

  8. jimeejohnson - Aug 12, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    Spain showed incredible fortitude against Russia, coming back from a big deficit to win. USA has been all business this tournament, and will not let Spain push them around. Notice Ibaka keeping his big mouth shut concerning one King: Lebron James. Ibaka learned in this past NBA Final not to play mind games with The King, lest the King kicks your ass. U S A!

  9. jh4prez - Aug 12, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    I think the refs are calling a fair game.its a great game with a one point dif at the half.what did you want to see another blowout?now come on USA lets get that gold!!

  10. madmediaman - Aug 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    This game puts to rest any comparison between the 1992 Dream Team and the 2012 team… The 92 Dream Team would have crushed Spain as Spain’s advantage in the paint would have been nullified by Ewing, Robinson, Barley and Malone.

    And is anyone else sick of Gasol’s flopping and histrionics? At least Barkley would have made him pay for flopping with and atomic elbow to his skull.

    • madmediaman - Aug 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      BTW, thank God for Durant’s outside shooting.

      • soflasfinest - Aug 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        GOLD!

    • therealroman - Aug 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      which gasol are you talking about? pau played an incredible game man! and marc is dominant but his early foul trouble helped the USA. naturally, spain does flop but today was just a hard-fought, honest game man

      • madmediaman - Aug 12, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        I am talking about Pau. He played a brilliant game, but I could do without the nonsensical flopping and acting like he’s been physically assaulted when someone looks at him funny.

      • Kurt Helin - Aug 12, 2012 at 8:51 PM

        As opposed to Chris Paul, who would never flop….

    • connaniii - Aug 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      Who´s Barley?…flopping? Lebron just about poked his eye out!

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