Olympic Basketball 2012: Team USA vs. Lithuania Preview

Team USA is coming off its largest margin of victory in Olympic history beating Nigeria 156-73 Thursday to improve to 3-0 so far in pool play.

The last two games have been cakewalks for the U.S. playing Tunisia and Nigeria but the degree of difficulty will start to increase Saturday morning when Team USA takes on Lithuania at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Lithuania is just 1-2 so far in pool play losing to Argentina and most recently France. Lithuania is still a team with a lot of potential, maybe not to upset the U.S. but definitely give them a tough game.

Linas Kleiza is currently leading the team in scoring so far averaging 16.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for the Lithuanians. Kleiza has the potential to really heat up from beyond the 3-point line in any given game which will have to happen for Lithuania to hang with Team USA.

Lithuania also features another interesting NBA player in Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas hasn’t played much so far in the tournament averaging just 10.8 minutes per game but was a lottery selection by the Toronto Raptors a year ago and will be coming to the NBA next season.

Valanciunas will be the biggest player the U.S. has seen so far at the Olympics and should see an increase in workload in the game. He is still a very raw player and has been in a lot of foul trouble but his work on the interior is something that could give the U.S. trouble.

The United States have made us all forget about their one weakness having easily won all of their first three games. That will come more to the forefront starting with Lithuania and we will see if it ever becomes a big problem for them.

Carmelo Anthony has led the U.S. so far averaging 20.7 points per game heavily influenced by his U.S. Olympic record of 37 points vs. Nigeria. Anthony missed just three field goals total in the last two games for the U.S. and he made 10 threes against Nigeria.

Kevin Durant is second on the team averaging 16.3 points per game and he is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.7 per game.

One thing that could prevent Lithuania from pulling off the improbable upset is that they have not been very good shooting the three so far in the Olympics. A hot night from downtown is definitely necessary to compete with the U.S.

The U.S. on the other hand have been unreal with their 3-point shooting so far most recently making 29-of-46 threes vs. Nigeria. Team USA has not been shy about hoisting threes so far in this tournament and they should see a lot of zone from Lithuania which will lead to more of the same from three.

Ultimately the U.S. should cruise to another victory in this one. Lithuania is too weak in their backcourt and doesn’t have the shooting or athletes to pose a real threat to Team USA. This will not be a repeat of the Nigeria game though but a win is a win even if it’s by 25 instead of 83.

Tags: 2012 Olympics Carmelo Anthony Jonas Valanciunas Kevin Durant Linas Kleiza Lithuania Nigeria USA Basketball

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