The last time these two teams met was not that very long ago. Two weeks ago Team USA defeated Argentina 86-80 in a pre-Olympic exhibition game where Kevin Durant made seven 3-pointers to lead the Americans. Manu Ginobili led the way for the Argentines in that game with 23 points as Argentina actually made a game out of it and giving Team USA something to think about.
Later tonight, Team USA is set to take on Argentina once again and this time, it’s during the Olympics, the final game of the preliminary rounds. So far in the 2012 London Olympic games, USA has gone undefeated so far which included an 83 point blow out against the Nigerians. Argentina on the other hand has loss one game against Ginobili’s NBA teammate Tony Parker and France. After losing to Team USA in embarrassing fashion, Nigeria faced off with Argentina which was a little bit closer as Argentina just won by 14 points.
In Argentina’s latest game against Nigeria, who has just been eliminated from entering the elimination round, Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola led the way with 22 points while Carlos Delfino had 18, Andres Nocioni had 17, and San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had 13 to help Argentina to a victory. In Team USA’s last contest, they faced their toughest challenge so far in the Olympics as Lithuania could have pulled off an upset over USA. Luckily, NBA League MVP LeBron James was there to close out the game and save Team USA from a bigger embarrassment compared to Nigeria losing by 83.
Miami Heat All-Star LeBron James led Team USA in scoring that game with 20 points on 9-14 shooting, while New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who has set the most three pointers made in one game with 10 against Nigeria, had 20 points as well coming off the bench. The three point shooting has been inconsistent for Team USA as we saw in their past two games. After making 29 for 46 (63%) from distance against Nigeria, USA only shot 10 for 33 (30.3%) with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant making 4 of the 10 three pointers. Minnesota Timberwolves captain, Kevin Love, had 7 points and 8 assists but was 3 for 8 in the strike.
Going up against Argentina today, it not so clear on how Team USA will play. Will they play with the same intensity they had against Nigeria or will they have a subpar performance and poor shot selection performance much like their most recent game. The three point line has both been Team USA’s lover and their killer. However, despite them struggling from distance in some games, they still haven’t lost a single game, but once they do, it’s simply because of that and also they didn’t realize how easy it is for them to score inside as well.
Kevin Love has been doing work already inside and Tyson Chandler has been very much active on both ends in the paint. LeBron James hasn’t been that consistent in scoring throughout the Olympic games and must slowly be getting ready to just do that. Three point shooting hasn’t yet showed it’s love to LeBron as the recently crowned NBA champion didn’t even make one three pointer in Team USA’s route against Nigeria as he only finished with 6 points.
Expect Kevin Durant to be able to take control of tonight’s game as well as he has proven to be effective against Argentina who doesn’t necessarily have a solid forward. Carmelo, LeBron, and Durant will be key contributors offensively for the Americans and Argentina must look at them and try to prevent Carmelo and Durant from taking and making easy jumpshots and LeBron from taking control of the flow of the game. Same thing for Team USA, Carlos Delfino will be one player to prevent from getting hot as he can provide a spark for the rest of Argentina’s bench and role players.
Offensively for Argentina they’ll obviously have to rely on Ginobili to create plays and to direct how Argentina should approach the game. Luis Scola as well will be a key contributor with his inside moves going up against Team USA’s subpar inside presence.
My prediction: Team USA wins by more than 10 points and less than 20.