Team USA is great, the players are great, the coaches are great, the training staff is great, the teamwork is great, the players are great.
That was stated twice for emphasis and now three times for reassurance: Team USA could very well be the second greatest basketball team ever assembled.
Last Thursday offered the latest proof when the Americans romped Great Britain 118-78 in London in a game where they only trailed once, which was 2-0 in the opening seconds of the exhibition match.
Earlier this month, Team USA was involved in a heavy debate, right after the starting line-ups were announced and Kobe Bryant said to the press that he felt, “This year’s USA team could beat the ‘92 Dream Team.”
But after their tough match against Brazil, only winning by an 11-point margin, that debate was put to rest.
Whether or not that fuelled LeBron, Kobe and Kevin Durant to destroy their next opponent is up for questioning, what remains a fact is this: Team USA destroyed Great Britain.
Everybody on the 12-man roster contributed to the deconstruction of the British international squad, even down to Blake Griffin’s replacement Anthony Davis, who finished with 11 points and four blocks in only 13 minutes of action.
Leading the charge for the United States were all-stars Deron Williams (19 points and five assists) and Carmelo Anthony (19pts and four assists). The United States used the third quarter as a launching pad, well to be more precise, Williams used the third quarter as a launching pad.
Williams conducted the orchestra that was the USA offense, going 4/5 from the three-point line, pulling up on a dime even with open cutters going to the rim. By knocking down shot after shot, his perimeter shooting opened the passing lanes for LeBron and Durant to get easy dunks in transition while Williams exploited the lanes and went to the hole as well.
Needless to say, Deron got hot. Very hot. Once that happened, the US pulled away from Great Britain by extending their lead from the 55-37 halftime score, to 89-55 by the end of the third quarter.
What was even more interesting about Williams’ exceptional third quarter, was that head coach Mike Krzyzewski changed up the starting line-ups for the game.
He replaced Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul with Deron Williams and Kevin Durant. Williams had an amazing game, while ‘Melo was just as affective coming off the bench as he was starting.
In any case, whether the change permanent or not, it’s not such a bad alternative when you can bring Anthony or Durant off your bench. That generally shows that your team is in pretty good shape, no matter who you put on the floor.
The fourth saw Team USA show off their athletic ability, throwing down dunk after dunk, connecting on alley-oops, using ball-pressure to ignite fast breaks and put on a dazzling display of speed and strength for the 16,000 strong Manchester crowd.
The British team looked more than out of sorts, only two players seemed to be able to take the punches and keep fighting: Chicago Bulls all-star Luol Deng and former NBA player Pops Mensa-Bansu managed to stay on the attack and keep scoring. But it was far too little, and way too late, to worry the Americans.
Over the last two minutes, the Americans finished with a flourish: Andre Iguodala, Davis and Durant all threw down multiple power slams to put on a show for the English crowd.
Obviously, Team USA is a dominant basketball force. They’ve gone 3-0 in their three exhibition games and now battle Pau Gasol and Spain, arguably their biggest threat, on Tuesday, 24 July, in their final Olympic tune-up. Their first game in London is against France on 29 July.
The Americans show no signs of slowing down; in fact they show signs of picking up the pace. They’ve improved with each and every contest and things don’t look promising for any nation that was hoping for a shot at Olympic gold.