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Preview: Team USA heads to Quarterfinals to face Argentina

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Coach K's underachieving squad faces Argentina on Wednesday afternoon. Can this team of superstars ditch the "underachieving" label and start playing to their potential?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
USA Basketball
vs
Argentina
How To Watch
August 17, 2016
Carioca Arena 1 — Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
2:45 p.m. PST
NBCSN

★★★

Team USA Preview

Can this USA squad get out of their own way? After a miserable defensive performance against France in the last game of pool play, the national media has had a field day calling out the lazy all-stars wearing the stars and stripes. The players and coaches all say that elimination games should solve the intensity and focus issues, however all it takes is one game and one hot team to knock you out.

The USA-France game did feature the return to form of Klay Thompson, who so far had looked like he had spent one too many nights at the local spas in Rio. Blame the hostile environment, blame the different ball; regardless this team touted for it's endless offense (yet lack of defense) has looked inconsistent shooting and scoring the ball. They are averaging over 100 ppg in the Olympic tournament, but note that two of those games have come from China and Venezuela.

What will it take for the team to turn it around?

  • A balanced attack: Listen Carmelo and Kyrie, I get it that your best skills come from one-on-one play, however take a long look in the mirror and remind yourself that you don't have D-Leaguers around you right now. Drive and kick, pass the ball and get everyone involved, and good things will happen
  • Listen to Thibs: Hey KD. That's right, I'm talking to you new Golden State Warrior. You are going to have to try a bit harder than that on defense. The endless back cuts, the bad effort on the boards. It's all adding up and it hurts the team's offensive rhythm. Team Defense is the key against the pick and roll, and you can't always count on the second unit to come in and stop the bleeding.
  • Win Despite Coach K's bad lineups: I get it. Dray should be playing more 5. The rotations have been horrible. But you know what is screwing up the rotations? Easy and early foul trouble. Boogie needs to stay on the floor by realizing this isn't the NBA. Keep the feet moving instead of trying to bully your opponents, and this team's length should cause other teams problems. The scoring will come - every game has been a different "hero" scoring the ball, and no doubt it will be someone different on Wednesday. These different units and different combinations can take advantage of the day off and extra practice to continue to learn from each other. This team is yet to play it's best game. Will tonight be the start?

Team Argentina Preview

Remember this?

Half the fun is seeing the old NBA guys playing for Team USA in '94. The other fun is seeing how well this Argentina team played at the time, especially the-now crafty vet Ginobili. You might see these highlights multiple times during the broadcast, but do note that while Team USA has gone through a complete overhaul, its basically the same squad out there for Argentina.

The team features a who's who of NBA talent who were good 5+ years ago: Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino (also Dallas Maverick draft pick Nicolas Bruissino). Argentina got through Group play by going 3-2, including a huge 2OT win against the host Brazilians. Their top scorers have been different each game, with Nocioni putting in 37 against Brazil being their high mark. They have averaged close to 90 ppg (so they can definitely score) and they will have the advantage of the "home" crowd, playing so close to their country base. Where Argentina lacks is their depth - once the starters leave the court, they simply don't have the collection of options that other countries, especially the US, have to offer. For Argentina to stay in this game, they will need career-defining performances from their old stars, but it might be a bit too late to realistically expect that.

Predictions

Team USA should be able to handle this one with little issue. It won't be a blowout - and I'm not sure any of the US remaining games will be. But I will predict a balanced attack to go along with increased urgency and a crisper performance. Kevin Durant will lead the way (who is going to guard him?) and we should see some offensive fireworks from the boys. I'm guessing this one ends 95-85.