Team USA Upends Team Aussies
If you are the coach in the above picture, I’m not sure what you’d make of your team’s 87-76 victory over an undermanned, yet gallant Australian National Team. It what was certainly their “toughest” game in their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, Redeem Team USA beat the Aussies by 11 points. Before the Australia game, the USA’s average margin of victory was 37 points.
The Redeemers were led by Dwyane Wade’s 22 points as he continues to show the rest of the basketball-watching world he is, in fact, back from the myriad of injuries that plagued him the last two NBA seasons. Wade was followed by James’ 16 and Bryant’s 13.
While I’m sure a lot will be inferred from such a narrow margin of victory against a team that was playing without one of their best players — Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks — I’m not convinced if we weren’t seeing some possum-playing from Team USA. This very topic was offered by ESPN’s Chris Sheridan in relation to Lithuania:
Then again, Lithuania may not want to show its cards in a game that’s more or less meaningless, and it’d happily walk away with a 32-point loss of its own if it felt it might give the Americans an inflated sense of self-confidence heading into Beijing.
With that in mind, it’s entirely in the realm of possibility Team USA might have been using the same strategy. To the Australians’ credit, they did move the ball well in their half-court offense and out shot the US from behind the 3-point line, going 8-23 with the Redeemers managing only 3-18. They also defended the US pretty well in the half-court, packing it in behind the arc and making the US work the ball with various levels of success.
However, the US never really got after the Aussies defensively like they have in previous exhibitions. Further, I never really got the impression the US was ever in danger of losing their lead. When they wanted/needed to score, they did. Perhaps Coach K was saving his squad for the real tournament?
Next up for Team USA, the start of the Olympics and Team China on Sunday. Then we can start finding out if the Aussies used a blueprint that can beat the U.S. or not.