|How To Watch
|July 29, 2016|
|United Center — Chicago, IL
|6:00 p.m. PST|
Team USA Preview
The traveling All-Stars make their way to Chicago on Friday to face off against another Olympic tuneup in the form of the Venezuela National Team. Coach K has been critical of the team in recent days and their tendency to want to run up the score on a team like an All-Star game instead of playing consistent offense. K has it right - the games will start to get harder much quicker, and without the organization needed to beat better teams, USA might not be able to run away on skill alone like they have.
Team USA won it's last two "matchups" against China by eerily similar scores - both 50 point wallopings. Boogie Cousins dominated the small Chinese front line on his way to 21 points in just 19 minutes, adding in 11 boards and a block. Carmelo Anthony followed up with some hot shooting, going 7 for 12 to extend his lore as one of the best USA scorers in National Basketball history. China tried to keep it close in the first half, but this was mostly because Team USA didn't completely wake up until the second half. The rebounding edge was laughable - 48-21 in favor of the US, saving some bad shot choices before USA pulled away.
From a Warriors standpoint, KD hit his first shot in front of the Oracle crowd to a proper response. It was a signature moment that will be remembered by Warriors fans until we finally see him in a Dubs jersey for the first time. He would go 4-8 from three on his way to 13 points. He will get a heavy workload once the real games start, so a nice 20 min stint for him was a good way to go. Draymond contributed his best on the small-ball center side, dropping in 4 points and adding 7 boards. Klay Thompson had a rough night shooting, but was not shy about pulling the trigger. Team USA will need him to stretch the floor with the starting five, and he should improve on his 5-14 performance. Finally - we saw a good perfomance from Harrison Barnes, which hopefully will be his last great performance at Oracle for awhile since he will be coming back in a Mavs jersey. We saw some glimpses of Playoff Harrison, being aggressive and hitting his jumpers on his way to 7 points. His defense was key on the wings with the second unit.
Team Venezuela Preview
Team Venezuela is a nice collection of international talent and Euro League stars, that lacks any real NBA talent. Their starting 5 features 3 guards - not a good sign to face up against the size of the US. Gregory Vargas was their lead scorer from the South American Chamionships, in which Venezuela beat Brazil to take home the title. Vargas dropped 21 points and four assists. This was not the prettiest of games, but was a nice sign to see Venezuela take the title in their home country and capital.
This game should mean much more for Venezuela than it does for the US - can the national team face up against a world powerhouse like the US? Can they get their shots off against the height and length of the US defense, and can they keep up with the outside attack especially after their poor shooting performances of the past? They will want to have their confidence grow going into the group games in Rio, where they will matchup again with the US and other tougher national teams like Australia.
I don' think this one will be close... Coach K will continue to play out his bench to see who can steal minutes with the second unit. So far, Paul George has feasted on the depths of USA opponents, and I picture him to continue to do so as the primary scorer and handler with the second unit. The public comments by the coaching staff to the USA team should wake them up to take this game a bit more seriously, and I picture a large lead at halftime. Venezuela is a good story, but they simply dont have the depth to keep up in this matchup. I'm guessing another large win, 85-55. As for the Warriors players - let KD get his shots, then rest him up for the big games. Klay needs some more reps to get use to the new ball on his jump shot, but I am not worried about his performance. Golden State should figure in prominently as the tournament moves into it's real games in the coming weeks.