July 12, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; United States guard Kevin Durant (5), forward LeBron James (6), forward Carmelo Anthony (15) and guard Kobe Bryant (10) during a stoppage in play against the Dominican Republic in the second half at the Thomas and Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

2012 Olympics: Team USA Basketball vs. Brazil Exhibition Preview


Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The USA Men’s Olympic Basketball team will play its second exhibition game tonight vs. Brazil. The game will be played in Washington, D.C. at the Verizon Center at 8 p.m. EST and will be on ESPN2.

Team USA won its first exhibition game last Thursday when they beat the Dominican Republic 113-59.

Kevin Durant led the U.S. with 24 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in that game and made his first five 3-pointers. Andre Iguodala was also hot from deep making four treys of his own and scoring 18 points.

Russell Westbrook had six points and five rebounds and James Harden scored eight points.

The Dominican Republic was very close to qualifying for the Olympics but lost to Nigeria in the final Olympic Qualifying game in Venezuela last week. NBA players Al Horford and Francisco Garcia played for the Dominican Republic but were no match at all for the U.S.

Brazil will be a tougher matchup for Team USA and is ranked 13th in the world by FIBA. Brazil has a few NBA players on its roster including Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa.

The United States is without question more talented than Brazil but Brazil could pose a few tough matchups especially with their big men.

Team USA does not have a big roster and will be relying on its versatile wings and backcourt pressure to beat teams. Team USA played a lot of lineups with LeBron James and Durant playing the four and five which will put them at a disadvantage against a team like Brazil where Nene and Splitter can score efficiently out of the low post.

The United States’ ability to pressure ball handlers may also be lessened going up against an NBA-experienced point in Barbosa.

The game changes under FIBA rules and the United States looks less like a collection of NBA players in the process. In their first exhibition match, they fired 33 3-pointers and made 13 of them, thanks to Durant and Iguodala. Team USA doesn’t have a lot of great 3-point shooters however especially considering some of the lineups head coach Mike Krzyzewski plays involving average outside shooters like LeBron and Chris Paul.

The name of the game for Team USA will always be their defense in the backcourt, scoring on the break and moving the ball well on offense. They looked expectedly rusty against the Dominican Republic often over-passing in a game they knew they’d easily win. They also didn’t do the best job of team rebounding, something Coach K has emphasized with this team and something that will be very important against bigger teams like Brazil.

Team USA needs to find a more defined role for all of their players if they are going to hit their potential and win a Gold Medal in London.

Brazil is a perfect test before the Olympics to get the United States into shape. The game should be much closer than the game against the Dominican Republic which should force Team USA to play their appropriate best lineups.

Brazil has always played the United States tough in international basketball and is coming off an impressive 91-75 win over Argentina who is ranked 3rd in the world right now.

Team USA should still win tonight but we can expect ugly basketball in the process.

Tags: 2012 London Olympics Anderson Varejao Brazil Dominican Republic Kevin Durant Leandro Barbosa LeBron James Mike Krzyzewski Nene Team USA Basketball Tiago Splitter