Kevin Durant says, “We’ve got to figure out how we can be better.”
“There’s no letting up in this kind of a tournament,” Klay Thompson warned after Sunday’s narrow win over France. “We gave them too many good looks around the basket and got complacent on defense.
“These international guys really know how to move and really know how to cut,” explains Paul George. “It’s more about how they’re running their offense. It’s wearing us down.”
These aren’t the type of quotes that American fans expected to be reading as group play wrapped up in the Summer Olympics. After a series of blowouts in their exhibition schedule followed by convincing wins over China and Nigeria in their first two Olympic contests, the Americans seemed on their way to an easy gold medal.
But a tough and experienced Australian team gave them their first test last Wednesday. Team USA trailed by five points at halftime and was challenged throughout the game before pulling away late in a 98-88 victory. Serbia provided another crack in the Americans’ invincibility Friday night, falling 94-91 as Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s last-second 3-pointer bounced off the rim. The U.S. improved to 5-0 Sunday with an unimpressive three-point win over a French team that played without Tony Parker.
There are many theories about what has gone wrong in Rio, ranging from shot distribution to defensive breakdowns to faulty player rotations. But it’s also possible that the American team was overrated heading into this tournament and the rest of the world was underrated. Nearly all of these teams have been playing together for years and understand the finer points of international competition.
Regardless of how they got here, the Americans are unbeaten and head into the medal round as the top seed from Group A. Depending on the results of tonight’s contest between Lithuania and Croatia, the U.S. will face either Argentina or the Croatians in the quarterfinals. They will be a heavy favorite no matter who the opponent is and they are still the most likely team in Rio to come home with the gold medal.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Will the United States get the three wins it needs to capture gold or is there a team that will give the Americans their first Olympic loss since 2004? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.