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Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 11:52 am  |  83 responses

Dang, that felt good

‘Team USA cannot lose.’

by Alan Paul

You all saw the Greece/USA game or at least read Lang’s great blow-by-blow blog, so I won’t bother with any recap. I’ll just tell you this: I have seen every team in this tournament play now, many of them in person, the rest on TV and it’s simple: Team USA can not lose unless they have some sort of mutiny or total breakdown.

After the game, I heard some people saying “Well, Greece just shot poorly from downtown.” Does anyone seriously think that the 4/18 was just bad luck? They were getting closed out on and not getting open looks. Even the best sharpshooter has a hell of a time with Dwyane Wade flying at him, or Chris Paul on him like jam on toast. The US was aggressive, rotating quickly, not getting beat by the pick and roll, not giving anything up. And if they keep doing that, they will not lose. No matter how they shoot from three themselves.

Their 35 percent from three as an improvement, but here’s the thing it doesn’t matter when they’re shooting better than 60 percent from two and getting to the rim at will.

Yeah, there’s are issues with the team’s makeup and we all know them. And it’s clear that Jason Kidd can not guard a ham sandwich right now. He got three fouls in 1:25, which to some extent set that no-holds-barred aggressive tone, but mostly was just sad. And Chris Bosh is clearly the best big they’ve got right now and should be starting. But DWade is probably their best player at the moment and they’re doing just fine with him coming off the bench.

And pause to think how far they’ve come’ four years ago they had Larry Brown coaching Steph and LBJ, Dwade and Melo growing moss on the bench. Speaking of Melo, wasn’t he supposed to be on this team?

One last thought: when looking for commentary from here, search for names you know and trust. There is a huge pool of reporters covering here who really don’t know what they’re doing. And basketball is easy compared to Beijing. If I read one more ill-informed story about this place I am going to find the offending writer, tie him up and force-feed him dumplings.

Imagine 10,000 reporters who have never watched an NBA game coming to the Finals and writing deep think pieces about the state of basketball and you’ll get the idea.

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  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Well nobody is playing well or anywhere near their potential so far.Team USA are by far the best performers of the tournament so far and they still have major problems,so I’m not giving this one to the US just yet.

  • http://washedupplayer.blogspot.com/ RiseKing

    I would have to agree with Alan. There is no one that seems to be able to control their pace of play, and the way they are attacking the rim, and are cohesively playing together, I really don’t see them getting challenged. Bron & Wade both seem to have made that competitive jump that (dare I say) Jordan made after getting his ass kicked by the Pistons all those years. They are playing with a serious chip on their shoulders, and it is a joy to watch.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Great stuff from Alan as always. Jason Kidd’s role on this team really confuses me; he could not play another second and they wouldn’t suffer one bit. Alan, what kind of beer were they serving in your buddy’s box? I hope not Budweiser.

  • http://washedupplayer.blogspot.com/ RiseKing

    Also, has a player gone from his prime to the garbage heap faster than Jason Kidd? Not only is he a complete liability on “D”, he really can’t run the break anymore either. He is not gonna be the answer in Dallas, sorry Cubes.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Is “rotting” a new defensive stance?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I trust in Slam writers or contributors anyway, but thanks for the heads up Alan.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    I think he meant “rotating.” I fixed it…

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    “Rotting” is Jason Kidd’s defensive stance. That dude is DONE when it comes to defense. He used to be so nice on defense too.

  • Slick Nick Da Ruler

    Jason Kidd rotted like GP. Please hand the reins to Deron and CP3. Kidd is embarassing Mark Cuban out there.

  • Jackie Moon

    Team USA Defense is a sight to behold. While they might get burned once in a while, that’s the price of playing aggressive defense. The opponent never gets to feel comfortable on offense and has to rush to make anything happen.

  • ciolkstar

    Sadly, I think Coach K will stay loyal to Ason. But I seriously have to disagree with the sentiment that Wade has been the best player. It has clearly been Lebron. Wade has been super hot shooting the ball, and has nice steal numbers (which are misleading b/c of how often he gambles on D, usually leading to a wide open look for the other team) Lebron has been scoring while not settling for Js, attacking the paint in order to set up others, he’s been the BEST passer on the team and has been sraight up DOMINANT defensively. Wade only has an edge in scoring and he has been a ball hog during basiaclly every Olympic game (even exhibitions)

  • ciolkstar

    …to sum up: LEBRON!

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    You guys are really bashing Kidd a little too much. Against China he played better than Chris Paul did, and yes, he SUCKED in this game, but even his time in the third quarter, he had some nice plays. Enough is enough…

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Wade has been a ballhog? Hit the pipe again, ciolkstar. He comes off the bench to SCORE, dum dum. And his passing, or you may have missed his perfectly placed drive and dishes throughtout their run so far, has been on par with Bron’s.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Another thing worth noting-a USA team with Jason Kidd has never lost a game.

  • ciolkstar

    He’s a black hole. I’m not saying he’s played poorly. But he’s definitely has not been the best player. i know he’s your boy but do you honestly think he’s been better than Le Brizzle?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Also:Has anyone else been slightly dissapointed in Chris Paul so far?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    i agree they won’t lose, BUT they should be blowing out teams by at least 30. Wade SHOULD NOT be the best player on a team that has Lebron and Kobe.

  • ciolkstar

    His passing has been absent, maybe a couple dish offs only because he couldn’t get all the foul calls that his game depends on.

  • ciolkstar

    Last comment was referring to Wade not Paul.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    RV:Why should they be blowing teams out?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Boy, you guys are pure stupid. Sorry, I love you, but seriously….don’t go off boxscores, watch the games then make asinine statements. Lebron has been fantastic, Wade has been fabulous and Bosh finally played the first big man game of their eight games together today. If Kobe can cut down on his forced attempts, the gold should be easier to pick up than Britney in a Waffle House at 3:00a in the morning.

  • Marcel Mutoni

    america. f*ck yeah!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Uhm…..when you win games by 20 points plus, that’s a blowout.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    That’s it,I’m buying a Spain jersey.

  • ciolkstar

    Wade IS NOT their best player. That type of idiocy is propagated by people who just look for whoever has the most points. Not to mention Wade has a lost a lot of his ebtertainment value, he was my Favorite college player coming out. He doominated the NCAA tourney and was a revelation in the playofffs on a young Miami team. Against dallas, he dominated but the foul-thing was a little annoying and now getting fouled is like the focal point of his game. Check the reggie-style leg kick to get 3 freethrows. When a greek player is laughing at how bad you flop you know something’s up. bron goes hard and is simply a better all around player than Wade will ever be. That’s whatsup hatin-ass Eboy.

  • ciolkstar

    @ E: Bosh was tremendous.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Who was I hating on, ciolkstar? Plus you’re a known lackluster intelligence basketball head, so it’s hard to take what you write (which is similary unintelligable)seriously. Regardless, scary Greece was a footnote, as Spain will be Saturday.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Getting this worked up over the olympic team is quite hilarious.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    And after Saturday, let’s have Ricky Rubio marinate until the draft next year, and give him some time. It’s going to be that bad for him.

  • http://its-mitch.blogspot.com/ Paps

    Bosh has stepped up big time. I can’t wait for Spain V.S. USA. Should be a close one.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I’m with my country, TAD, you are a red bellied Benedict Arnold.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Eboy is a simpie.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Italy?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Fu*k Tad and double fu*k Izzo in his getting an interview with a person of intelligence’s ass.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I will add this though: both Wade and Deron look to be in the best shape of their lives in these olympics. This should bode well for their teams this upcoming season.

  • riggs

    wade is the best player on this team, yet being unmentioned by many in the media.

  • ciolkstar

    Hating on me Eboy. which is really your only skill. If you were any good as an attourney you wouldn’t spend your whole day trying to act superior on this board.

  • ciolkstar

    Wade has been the 2nd best player for sure. Are you kidding me Riggs? I haven’t seen any media that didn’t call Wade team USA’s best player.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I wasn’t hating on you, ciolkstar, just pointing out fact. You’ve been the insulter, I just followed up. Oh, and when you’re good at what you do, you don’t have to sit around like a stump hoping things go right. They get done for you.

  • Nick Fleming

    Look the way we have been beasting teams has been on D and fast breaks. I refuse to believe that a team full of talent has one best player. They mesh well together, very cohesive, and undeniably athletic. Point is any one player could look like the best by pulling their NBA game out and dominating in the halfcourt, but thats not how we want to win. Every guy on this team is necessary.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Bosh is really impressing me these last few games. He’s really, really efficient when his teammates find him open under the basket. His presence inside is a big factor behind USA’s success.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    ^ True statement by Nick.

  • Boing Dynasty

    Is Deron Williams growing a beard to distract everyone from his ever increasing bald spot?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I have especially liked Bron’s volleyball spiking blocks.

  • Sean

    Dynasty i think you’re right.

  • James aka The Artist Formerly Known As Krayzie Bone

    Izzo, make sure you get Yao on the back of th spain jersey to honour the controversey.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Lebron blocking shots has been a revelation. If he keeps that up next year, it’s going to cause some problems. The guards for Greece were looking over their shoulders every time they went to the hoop after a while.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I agree with allen 100%. If he plays D like that even 60 percent of the Cavs games, they will be a top three team in the East in the regular season instead of the slippage they had this past one.

  • Z

    LeBron is the best basketball player in the world. Wade is back like it’s 06. Kidd is done, stick a fork in him. Bosh is a revelation but that can be misleading. Bigs tend to do well when they’re surrounded by gifted wings. Talk to me about it when it’s gonna be Moon and Parker feeding him. Dwight has been a big disappointment. To put it buntly, he has no game whatsoever. I mean physically dominant, yes… but that’s about it. Where’s the dropstep, where’s the up and under, where are the hooks, where’s the face up game, where’s the midrange j???

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @Z: Regarding Bosh and Dwight, the difference I think lies in the fact that a guy like Bosh is gonna be more successful in international play, at least offensively, than Dwight is. With his length, mobility and a jumper that goes out to the arc, Bosh has a lot of the strengths of “Euro” big men. Dwight, super though he may be, is nowhere near ’96 Shaq offensively (yet).

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Why is everyone so shocked? YES: in the NBA, Lebron > Wade and Paul > Deron… but in the Olympics, whether is be Fiba rules or the mintues they are getting or their mindset or their energy or the players they play with or the stars lining up perfectly, WADE AND DERON ARE OUTPLAYING THEIR USUALLY SUPERIOR COUNTERPARTS. This is not a knock on anyone’s skill, nor do I think on an average basis that Wade and Deron are better than Lebron and Paul. It’s just the way the Olympics are being played. Who knows, maybe Lebron is taking a backseat to Wade because that’s how he wants it to be, same with Deron/Paul. Don’t get so offended, people.

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Also, Bosh had a great game, I’m not going to get up and say he’s played better than Howard on all the nine or so games played so far.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Good point, Jukai. I think Lebron COULD get his 30,8 and 8 against foreign opposition easily. But would it matter if they lost? What’s more important is that we’re seeing these guys sink into their roles and thrive at them.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Eboy, i wrote blowing them out by at least 30, not just a blowout

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    RV: As my high school coach used to say, as long as a game is won by more than 5 points, it honestly isn’t even close. When your team is down by 20 or so, against the likes of these legends-in-the-making, what do you do? You can choose to fight on and hold onto a 20 point deficit. Or you can just say screw the score and let your bench players have some PT and valuable experience, resulting in some inflated 40 point loss. It really doesn’t matter.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    and H, because they can. They continue to gamble when its not necessary and therefore give opponents 10 pts a game on open layups. They also don’t pay attention on cuts because their busy trying to predict who the guy at the top of the key will pass to, which leads to more open layups/dunks. On offense, its great to get every involved, but you need a common starting point for them to get in a rythm. No defender is going to deny Kobe or Lebron what they want (missing the shot is a diff story), let them create. They both finish very well, can create open shots and open up lanes for cutters to get easy dunks or alleys. Right now its pretty much run, run, run (which is good) and in the halfcourt its do whatever you feel like doing (which isn’t good). Yeah they’ll do well enough to win, but if i was them i’d like to send a message to the whole world.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    AP thank you. Also i love when it reads “SLAM China Bureau Chief” when you’re onscreen. Dope

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    I get what you’re saying Joel, but i’m pretty sure people didn’t look at the dream team say, oh well they’re margin of victory was inflated, they aren’t THAT good. I know the players on that team are legends, but inflated or not, huge blowouts like that send a message. I guess its not so much about how much they blow them out by, but that i think if they corrected some simple mistakes they WOULD blow them out by 30 or more.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    also, the tops guys of USA basketball insist they lost because the int’l game is different and the team wasn’t well put or adapted enough to int’l style. That’s a great point, but guess what? This team still isn’t well put. If you can bring guys who actually fit the int’l style then you can play the int’l style effectively. this team is still mostly an all-star team who’s TRYING to play Euro ball on offense. Their biggest advantage isn’t shooting or size, its speed and athletic ability, they are showcasing this on fast breaks, but in the halfcourt they get away from it.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    The rockets had a play when cat and francis were both here, where Steve would take his man off the dribble from the top, while Cat waited deep in a corner, cat’s man came to help, which left cat open for an alley. Worked EVERY time since no one could stop Francis’ crossover and cat’s defender automatically reacted by coming over, therefore leaving him open. They need plays like that to use their talents to the fullest.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    This is Greece, however. Blowout or not, a resounding victory against one of the top 4 teams in the world – I’ll take that any day. I agree with you though, that there definitely are things to work out with this team… it really isn’t the finished product yet.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Looking beyond the Spain game, who is going to be the United States player to punk Dirk first in the Germany game Monday?

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Wade has a rich history of doing it, Eboy.

  • http://birdmonster.blogspot.com tenorca

    This was fannnntastic. We drubbed the Greeks like we were Romans. Good to see the US keep their composure after a horribly officiated first couple minutes and a fairly close first quarter and then just smother Greece with an ether rag for the rest of the game. Spain is toast. I look forward to everyone relaxing a bit on Rubio too after, well, we’ll see.

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Don’t mention Rubio when Eboy is around, Tenorca: he HATES white people.

  • http://birdmonster.blogspot.com tenorca

    I’ll keep that in mind. And so I’m clear, I don’t wish the Spaniard ill-will. I just think that when you’re 17, you aren’t hanging with the two best PGs in the world. Plus, you know: ‘MERICA!!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Good question, Eboy. Too bad David West isn’t on Team USA to re-play their postseason interaction.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Deron is the best point guard in the world period. NBA, FIBA, it doesn’t matter.

  • Stewie Griffin

    Bob Sapp played quite well.

  • Alan Paul

    Lebron has been great, too and fully dominant. His combination of skills and physical power just brings people to their knees. But Wade has been great, too. And he is always ont he court when they start their dominant runs. His quickness seems to really disrupt them and I have not seen him play outside himself or out of control yet. Same for Lebron actually.

    I’m okay with Kidd being on the team and loved it in theory, but…in the third quarter last night when they turned a little complacent and started showing off, he was the one on the floor, trying to throw bounce passes off the top of the backboard. If he’s going to do stuff like that not sure what the point is.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    i’m somewhat disappointed Kobe hasn’t played a bigger role. He wants to play D, but i hope he goes nuts one game on offense.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    I’m sure we’d all like to see Kobe in “killer mode” here at some level, but if I hope it never comes down to that.

  • niQ

    OMBOSH!!!. bosh was amazing the last game. it’s all about opportunity i guess.. but it doesn’t REALLY matter who starts or not, as the minutes played is pretty spread out.

  • clapzilla

    Speaking of Melo, He Leads The Team In Rebounding.

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    Eboy, the way Dirk’s been stinking up the joint (NINE SHOTS against Spain? wtf) he deserves to be “stroked” in the face by Bosh or Booze. At least THAT might bring his mean streak back. One of the most unguardable shots in B-Ball but oh so fragile psyche. Come on Dirk, wake the hell up. Flag carrying time has TRULY begun, show some pride for pete’s sake!! Damnit!

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    @Z. regarding “superman”, your questions are all very valid. My theory? His game is back on Krypton. The one dimensional big baby.

  • RedRum

    I will admit this team looks impressive, especially in the backcourt. Against greece they were playing against some of the best point guards in the world (Diamantidis and Papaloukas) and abused them. I guess them never having played in the NBA played a role, not being accustomed with this type of athletism. If the US beats Spain with the same ease they beat Greece, I think they will win gold. But my prediction is that this is transitional period. I expect Europe to catch up in the next games, especially if major NBA talent starts coming to europe.

  • B. Long

    Kobe Bryant was the best passer of the game. By far.

  • B. Long

    Yes, you read that right.

  • B. Long

    And to add to what was said earlier, Lebron has the ability to be a Josh Smith type shot-blocker and if Mike Brown doesn’t jump his ass next year if he doesn’t play D like this I will be extremely disappointed. But considering everyone in Cleveland is gonna be kissing his @ss for the next couple of years in a pathetic attempt to keep him around I doubt he’ll say anything.

  • B. Long

    I don’t know if anyone has noticed yet but Dwayne Wade looks like he’s getting back into game shape too.

  • B. Long

    ^(understatement of the day)

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