Saturday, August 16, 2008

Spain vs the US

Disclaimer: I’m happy the US won and I’ll be proud when they win the gold medal.

But that was disappointing. As a fan of competitive basketball, I was hoping Spain would put up more of a fight. There are a few different ways to look at this.

1) The US played their best game of the tournament. They saved their best game for the elite competition. The US made 7 of 11 threes in the first half and shot 58% for the game.

2) Spain wasn’t really trying. Regardless of the outcome, Spain won’t meet the US again until the gold medal game, so they had no reason to reveal too many of their offensive sets, ect.

3) Spain may be the second best team in the Olympics, but they are significantly worse than the US.

I’m hoping the answer is 1 or 2 so we still get a competitive game for the US as this tournament continues. But it sure looked a lot like #3 today.

Goat of the Game: Jose Calderon. Calderon has become a leader for the Toronto Raptors but he was no match for the relentless US defense today. Calderon had several turnovers and shot just 1-9 from the floor. Of course Juan Carlos Navarro’s 2-10 also hurt.

On the positive side, there were a few highlight reel plays today:

Play of the Game 1: Tayshaun Prince’s ridiculous alley-oop pass to Lebron James that was way above and to the right of the cylinder. Only Lebron James could have caught that ball and made that play.

Play of the Game 2: Ricky Rubio alley-oop pass to Rudy Fernandez in between a swarm of US players.

Play of the Game 3: After a loose ball ricocheted off of several players Ricky Rubio tried to back it out, only to have Dwayne Wade steal it and take it coast-to-coast. Dwayne Wade has just become a steal-machine in the Olympics.

Future Schedule

At the moment, only one game on Day 5 matters. China vs Greece will decide 3rd place in Group B. (OK, Croatia could also lose to Iran and Australia could beat Lithuania, but I’m going to assume BOTH of those events don’t happen.)

Doug Collins speculated today that Greece might try to throw the game against China to avoid Argentina in the quarterfinals and the US in the semis, and I think that makes a lot of sense. The only question is whether China will do the same thing. I think Day 5 could be a very bad day of basketball. Instead, let’s preview the Quarterfinals for Wednesday morning.

US vs Australia: Australia has more talent than just Andrew Bogut, but they’re still going to get crushed.

Argentina vs Greece / China “winner”: Argentina has not looked as sharp in this tournament as they did when they won the Gold Medal in 2004, but they may have been saving themselves. This could be the best game on Wednesday.

Spain vs Croatia: I still haven’t watched a full Croatia game, so I don’t have a real feel for this team. But don’t count them out.

Lithuania vs Greece / China “loser”: Another terrific match-up, but I think Lithuania is better than people are giving them credit for. People still seem to like Argentina more than Lithuania despite the fact that Lithuania won Group A.