Team U.S.A. struggles early, slips past Brazil late 80-69


Deron Williams and Team USA`
Team USA was able to sneak-by Brazil in the end. But it wasn’t easy by any means. (Photo credit to Sports Illustrated.cnn.com)

It wasn’t pretty. And it wasn’t a sight-for-sore-eyes. Brazil exploited Team U.S.A.’s weaknesses throughout much of the first half and periodically in the second half. Thanks to LeBron James, Team U.S.A. was able to get past a feisty, talented Brazil squad.

If Brazil’s size is enough to bother Team U.S.A., think of what the Gasol brothers and Spain could do to the U.S. Extremely poor outside shooting had the U.S. in a dog-fight with Brazil for much of the game. Because of their lack of size inside, Team U.S.A. has to rely on their shooting to get them through patches of games. It wasn’t clear last week against the Dominican Republic, but it was certainly clear last night. Brazil’s Anderson Varejao, Nene and Tiago Splitter pounded the glass, grabbing a total of 25 rebounds and scoring 26 points. No player on Team U.S.A., with the exception of James, had more than six rebounds (James had led the team with six).

That wasn’t the only thing that hurt Team U.S.A., Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant shot a combined 9-29 from the field and 3-15 from the three-point line. Even with the great pressure Team U.S.A. applied on Brazil, forcing 23 turnovers, they still missed breakaway layups and dunks. Brazil point guard Marcelo Huertas played the best game for the Brazilians, scoring 11 points and handing out 13 assists, and Varejao finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

James led the way for the U.S., scoring 30 points on 11-20 shooting, Durant finished with 11 and Chris Paul with 10. While some might say otherwise, this team sorely misses Dwight Howard‘s inside presence and it clearly lacks shooters with the ability to come off screens and hit open jump-shots. The majority of Team U.S.A. is comprised of the best basketball players in the world, but with one big negative. The majority are one-on-one players who are used to running the show. They are the best players on their respective teams and have been programmed to “do everything on their own” since the day they entered the NBA. If they continue to struggle with their outside shooting, Team U.S.A. might be in trouble. And it’s already clear that after one exhibition game, against a team with size, Team U.S.A is vulnerable.

But basketball is a game of runs and adjustments and there is 100% confidence that Coach K will make the necessary adjustments to improve this team before the Olympics begin.

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