Team USA Basketball will play its fourth exhibition game today at 3:30 p.m. EST vs. Argentina in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
The United States are 3-0 so far in exhibition games beating the Dominican Republic, Brazil and most recently Great Britain.
Argentina will certainly be the bigger test of the bunch so far as they are ranked 3rd in the world by FIBA behind only the United States and Spain. Argentina won Gold in the 2004 Olympics and then Bronze in the 2008 Olympics.
Argentina is led by a familiar cast of NBA players like Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino. While that doesn’t compare to the NBA players on the U.S.’s roster, it will still be tougher than anything Team USA has seen so far.
The United States looked great in their first exhibition game killing the Dominican Republic then they struggled against Brazil winning just 80-69. Brazil had a big time size advantage in the paint and they gave the U.S. trouble.
Argentina is coming off a 105-85 loss to Spain a few days ago in an exhibition of their own. Ginobili scored 19 points in that game and Scola added 18. Spain was led by Pau Gasol who had 17 and Juan Carlos Navarro who had 16.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant will lead Team USA but they have to do it on this team in a somewhat different way than you’d expect. They are both essentially playing out of position at power forward and even center on this roster.
LeBron and Durant are two of the best players in the world and are thus very versatile but we will see them at a disadvantage at times, especially on defense with Team USA. LeBron and Durant have been fine on offense though averaging 17.7 and 16.0 points per game, respectively, to lead the team.
Tyson Chandler is the only big man that has been getting significant run for the U.S. and that has made things difficult for them. Kevin Love and Anthony Davis have only played big minutes in the two blowouts.
The strength of Team USA is at the guard and wing positions. They have had a lot of success pressing their opponents forcing an average of 26.0 turnovers per game so far in their exhibition play. This was easy to do against D.R. and G.B. but Argentina will not be as weak protecting the ball.
When the United States played Brazil, we saw Brazil not show their entire hand as they played no zone throughout the entire game. Argentina may do the same as so many international coaches choose to do. Playing zone against the U.S. is the best way to beat them as they are weakest shooting from the perimeter and passing the ball around a zone.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski shuffled up the starting lineup in Team USA’s last game against Great Britain starting Durant and Deron Williams instead of Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Krzyzewski says he has seven starters on this team and it doesn’t matter who he starts.
Durant is averaging the second-most minutes per game on the team so far despite coming off the bench in two of the games. It still feels like a waste not to start him as the team should try and play he and LeBron together as much as possible.
We have seen the United States continually gel and look better playing together with each exhibition game. Today is another chance to get better and they will need to if they plan to take home the Gold.