FB&G: USA vs. Argentina, and the Semis

Forum Blue & Gold: I think my premise here is pretty simple:

Argentina may well give the USA their toughest test to date, but I don’t think Argentina can beat the USA unless the Americans help out.

A few thoughts to flesh that out. Argentina will try to slow the game down (the USA is at 81 possessions per game, fastest in the Olympics, while Argentina is at 69, the slowest) and because they have ball handlers like Manu that will not be coughing the ball up a lot they should be able to limit turnovers. That said they will give up some – sometimes against teams that bring high pressure and tempo it takes a while to adjust. The USA does that, with starters and off the bench. I think at some point in the first half the pressure is going to get to Argentina, maybe some subs, and the USA will go on a fast 10-0 run or so. Argentina will have to play catch-up from there, but I don’t think they can do it.

Argentina can score (their offensive rating through six games is 121 [points per 100 possessions], not bad but well behind the USA’s 129.1). They have good offensive talent, starting with Manu (Kobe on Manu is going to be fun to watch), but Delfino looked very good last game and they are a deep team. One thing the South Americans will have to do to win is hit threes – teams are shooting just 28.6% from three against the USA, to beat them you are going to have to shoot 40% or so.

But to win Argentina will need help – meaning the USA would have to be cold, particularly from the outside. The South Americans will have a hard time playing catch up on the USA, Argentina’s defense is not good enough to get a series of stops to make a counter run (they give up 107 points per 100 possessions, worst of the four teams left, compared to the USA’s 95).

That is to say, Argentina’s defense isn’t good enough unless the USA helps out. At times in the half court the USA just goes too much isolation and not enough ball movement (Kobe is one of the worst offenders). They get away with it because, well, Kobe and Wade and LeBron are very tough to stop in isolation. But Argentina has good defenders in Manu and Delfino, with Scolia and Fabricio Oberto inside to help. If the USA’s offense stalls, if they shoot jumpers (especially early in the clock) and miss, it plays into Argentina’s hands. What will be key for the USA is less iso and more ball movement to get the ball into good position.

The thing to really watch is the tempo – if the USA gets turnovers and runs well, it could be another blowout. More likely, Argentina will keep it close for a while, but once the USA puts together one run Argentina will just not be able to catch up. I don’t think this version of team USA is going to help out opponents like past versions – they have been so focused on defense they will slow the Argentineans, and Argentina cannot slow them.

I’ll post some links to other previews here, starting with Basketball Prospectus.

And one more link worth checking out – comparing Usain Bolt to Magic Johnson in a meaningful way.

Be sure to download Kobe Bryant’s Team USA iPhone wallpaper on TLN Downloads.

  • tradekwame11

    1st comment

  • dub824

    manu is about to get shut down

  • Russ Ahi

    no one is stopping the “REDEEM TEAM”….

    it’ll be over at halftime….

    USA will win tomorrow and then win gold on sunday versus Spain…

    DONE DEAL!!!

  • Michael_23

    I wake up 5 am for these games. And I’m NOT an early person. I usually go back to sleep at 6 am because the game is over already. And I watch the footage I missed on nbcolympics.com.

  • BEC

    The only way USA loses this game or any, even if they shoot like trash, is if they forget to play defense, and with Kobe and Kidd at the guard spot thats impossible, not even mentioning Howard in the middle. The focus and determination on this team is really high, everyone seems committed to playing strong D.

    I dont think less iso is a good thing. This team makes a lot if not most of its plays starting with isolation plays, Kobe, Bron, Melo, Dwill, Paul, or Wade just taking guys off the dribble or pullups or dishes from that, they all start with isos. Whats really key for USA if they want to win by 30-40+ is just good shot selection. But the way they have ben playing D, even with horrendous offense theyll still win.

  • Dave

    Game Time = 7:00 AM PST Friday morning

    It will be broadcast LIVE on USA Network, which is high-def if you get it on your cable provider.

    The best place for game times is at the usabasketball site.

    http://www.usabasketball.com/men_team.php?page=msnt_schedule

  • Russ Ahi

    you sure its 7:00 am on USA?

    if you go to http://www.nbcolympics.com, it says the game is at 10:00 am on NBC (channel 4 if you’re in LA)

    maybe im wrong, but i heard tomorrow’s game is at 10:00 am

    can anyone confirm???

  • allan

    If i’m not mistaken, the semifinal on friday against argentina will start at 7:15 am PST, BUT it won’t be televised until 10 am on NBC’s tape delay.

    spain vs. lithuania will be live at 5am on USA, but instead of showing the USA game live right after it, they’re showing table tennis quarterfinals.

    ***** nbc

  • Dave

    Game time explained
    10:15 p.m. — Game 72: Argentina vs. USA
    NOTES: Beijing, China is +12 hours from EDT or +9 hours from PDT
    10:15 PM China = 7:15 AM PST (same day)

    The NBC schedule stinks. They typically tape delay and only give you a 12-hour block. This REALLY stinks because they know full well its on USA live.

  • ak24

    [Comment ID #49248 Will Be Quoted Here]

    u guyz are confusing me :D

  • Dave

    10:15 PM in China is 7:15 AM PST, or 15 hours difference
    Sorry for the confusion.

  • Russ Ahi

    i think you got that reversed…

    7:15 pm is 10:15 AM

    i know they don’t play games that late (10 pm)…???

    whatever…its at 10:00AM On NBC…on WEST COAST AND EAST COAST….just check your tv guide if you’re confused

  • Dave

    The game is scheduled in China for 22:15, or 10:15 PM
    If you can watch it live, that is 7:15 AM PST
    NBC is delaying the game, so that’s why the time is a few hours later

  • PauKobeBynumOdomDynasty

    his name is scola not scolia

    im expecting a close game for the first quarter and half the second…just like against the aussies. Then tensions will grow and Kobe will start ballin’

    I have high respect for Manu…but i just can’t see him scoring as well as he has against the USA

    Predictions:

    Kobe: 30 points
    LeBron: 20 Points
    Wade: 12 points
    Rest of Team: 58 points

    Lakers win (I mean USA wins) 120-96

    Just one question: Do you think the current laker team with bynum can beat the argentinians? how about spain with the lakers not having gasol?

  • David

    [Comment ID #49253 Will Be Quoted Here]

    First let’s make sure the U.S. team can beat them. They’re struggling big time in the first half so far.

  • PauKobeBynumOdomDynasty

    [Comment ID #49254 Will Be Quoted Here]

    doesnt look like they’re struggling a lot anymore

  • PauKobeBynumOdomDynasty

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY KOBE BRYANT!!! It just turned 12 in Beijing

  • klingsor

    Awesome game!! Too bad Manu got hurt. It should have been a very close one. The referees were awful on both sides of the floor.

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