July 27, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Basketball player Kevin Durant (USA) marches with the United States athletes during the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

"The First Step" 2012 London Olympics: USA vs France

Feb 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (left) talks with France team director Patrick Beesley (right) and French national basketball team coach Vincent Collet after the game against the Chicago Bulls at the AT

“Forget the first five games! The way Team USA played in those five games are irrelevant to how they will play in the real Olympic games against tough teams like Spain or France!” Is what most people would say, especially Team USA fans around the world. No. For critics like myself and many others around Fansided.com will tell you that every stats in game played a certain team in recent days even exhibition games will be used to make a prediction/analysis on the game results. Unfortunately, we (writers and critics) are never always right. Some teams play poorly in one situation and play well in an opposite situation. However, there’s still nothing we can base our “intuitions” on without stats. Anyways, that’s what every sports writer I bet does.

That previous paragraph may have seemed pointless or not understandable to most of you, and for those who weren’t able encode that message, it’s basically the same way I see when I study Biology. And one of the most famous contributors to the world of Biology, specifically Medical Microbiology, is French-scientist, Louis Pasteur. Some of the things Pasteur stated are somewhat as not understandable to me as the first paragraph to some of you currently reading this article.

Later today, Team USA will tip off it’s gold medal quest against the home country of Louis Pasteur, France. The 2012 French National Basketball has 6 players with NBA experience under their belt, 2 former NBA talents, and 1 incoming NBA rookie. Among all French players, the most notable player has to be the 3-time NBA champion and 2007 NBA Finals MVP, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. This past season under rumored future Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich, Parker solidified his place as the Spurs new franchise player by averaging 20.1 points, 6.8 assists, and 3.6 rebounds and is going to bring that same intensity to the 2012 London Olympics.

Parker will be taking on three NBA players from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team that came back 0-2 to win the Western Conference Finals against Parkers’ Spurs, in James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and of course Kevin Durant. Unlike having foreign teammates from all over the world in San Antonio, Tony Parker will be having teammates from his own home country. With starting center Joakim Noah not playing in this year’s games, forward Nicolas Batum will most likely be the second most notable French athlete for France. Throughout this entire summer, Batum has been chased and clawed for by the Portland Trail Blazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the end, Batum ended up in Portland and with that behind him, he can focus on the Olympic games and his match with Team USA.

Tony Parker may have multiple international teammates with him in the Spurs’ locker room, but one of them is actually his teammate in the Olympic games, Boris Diaw, the starting forward for France alongside Batum. Diaw just recently moved to San Antonio this year and has been a key factor in the team’s “success”. Diaw is one of the best passing forwards/centers in the game today and his shooting and scoring is quite bad as well. Batum is the somewhat the opposite at that as he is a slashing forward who is one of the better all-around defenders in the NBA today. Lucky Blazers. Joining Diaw in the paint will be recent NBA champion, Ronny Turiaf. Being a bench warmer for Team USA superstar LeBron James of the Miami Heat, Turiaf was happy to be with LeBron in the playoffs but today, he’ll be seeing a lot of LeBron attacks on him, unless he can do something about it. Former NBA forward Mickael Gelabale, rounds out the starting line-up for France.

Coming off the bench, France has 2 NBA players in Kevin Seraphin of the Washington Wizards and Nando de Colo an incoming rookie of the San Antonio Spurs and one former NBA player in Yakhouba Diawara. Last season Seraphin improved his stats from his rookie season, by averaging 7.9 points and pulled down 4.9 rebounds per game coming off the bench for USA’s capital city’s NBA team (Washington Wizards). France all in all will definitely give a solid challenge to Team USA who just came off an exhibition game domination against #2 world ranked, yet incomplete, Spain. Tony Parker, much like Manu Ginobili when Argentina took on Team USA earlier this week, will cause havoc inside for Team USA. This in part is the situation as to which Team USA’s bigs must come in and dominate. With Joakim Noah already out of the lineup, and leaving Turiaf and Diaw, it’s time for Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler of Team USA to step up and dominate offensively and most of all defensively.

Offense will be sort off a situation for the Americans as France’s perimeter defense anchored by Nicolas Batum, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant will be challenged when they try to score. Diaw is not that quick but his one-on-one defense in the half-court set is as good as it gets. Tony Parker, however, will still be the main source of offense for the French. Just like the 2012 Western Conference Finals, Russell Westbrook played great defense on Parker, yet who at times managed to score. With Durant and Harden also present, the information on stopping Parker as a team will be present in the pre-game talks. Look for Team USA to dominate inside with LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Kevin Love trying to control the paint in their own special way.

USA vs France will be shown on NBC at 9:30 AM ET 

For more NBA analysis and opinions, check out Theon’s general NBA blog, THEONBA

My prediction: USA wins.

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Tags: France Kevin Love Kobe Bryant Nicolas Batum Ronny Turiaf Team USA Tony Parker Tyson Chandler

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