Olympic Basketball 2012: Team USA vs. Argentina Preview

The United States will wrap up their pool play this afternoon when they take on Argentina (3-1) at 5:15 p.m. EST.

The U.S. is undefeated at 4-0 in pool play after most recently beating Lithuania 99-94 in what was a very closely contested game.

Argentina was the favorite to come out of Pool A as the two seed but unexpectedly lost to France a few days back and is now more than likely going to come out as the three seed, unless they are able to upset the United States today.

Argentina will serve as the toughest test yet for Team USA. They are very experienced and feature some of the best international talent in these Olympics with Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino.

Ginobili has been playing at a very high level for Argentina in pool play averaging 21.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Ginobili is a tough cover for anyone including the U.S. and he will have to have a big all-around game for Argentina to pull off the upset.

Scola is leading the team in scoring at 22.5 points per game and will have a nice matchup vs. Team USA. Scola essentially starts at center for Argentina and the slower Tyson Chandler will have a lot of trouble covering him off the dribble.

Scola will see a lot of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony too, all of which have struggled somewhat with their interior defense in the Olympics.

Team USA’s close win vs. Lithuania will serve as a wakeup call for the team, mostly on the defensive end of the floor. Lithuania got a lot of easy looks at the rim vs. the United States and shot 58.5 percent from the field for the game.

Lithuania executed their offense very nicely and was not intimidated at all playing Team USA. Argentina will present a similar challenge to Team USA except with more talent.

Playing small lineups finally caught up with the United States vs. Lithuania as LeBron, Durant and Anthony, who are less experienced playing defense down low, were exposed.

Team USA, who was coming off a record-setting game vs. Nigeria in which they made 29 3-pointers, was trigger-happy from downtown again vs. Lithuania but did not have the same success. They made just 10-of-33 threes and struggled from the free throw line as well making just 19-of-31 shots.

LeBron was the one who stepped up at the end of the game and saved the day for the U.S. vs. Lithuania. He scored nine of their last 12 points and finished with 20 in the game. The United States will need more than just a late push by LeBron to keep winning in these Olympics.

Durant has turned into more of just a spot-up shooter of late for Team USA and will be needed to do a lot more for them to get past tough tests such as Argentina. He scored 16 vs. Lithuania but may be needed to get up over 20 in a close game today.

If Argentina wins, there will be a tie atop Pool A with Argentina, Team USA and France. Team USA could end up finishing second in the pool via the tiebreaker if they lose.

We can expect a better effort from Team USA on defense today and that really should be enough for them to get by Argentina. It will be another close game though and we have seen why the United States are a team that is beatable.

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Tags: 2012 Olympics Argentina Carlos Delfino Carmelo Anthony France Kevin Durant LeBron James Lithuania Luis Scola Manu Ginobili USA Basketball

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