Team USA has been plagued by poor starts at the Olympics, and shaky finishes. Their quarterfinal matchup with Argentina was no different at the start, but by the team they recovered, the game was never in doubt. After falling behind by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, Kevin Durant turned on the jets. Team USA didn’t look back.
The United States 105, Argentina 78. The Americans move on to the semifinals.
At the beginning, this looked like it might be one more classic for Argentina’s Golden Generation. Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola led the country to gold in 2004, the low point of the Team USA program. In the end, there wasn’t enough depth, and there wasn’t enough size. And perhaps not enough magic. With Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and perhaps Kevin Garnett retiring, it’s nice to try and appreciate some of the greats that have played and run the league in this young millennium. Few players have been as creative as Ginobili.
Team USA’s biggest issues thus far have involved lineup imbalance and defense. Too many lineups with DeMarcus Cousins, Carmelo Anthony, and Kyrie Irving struggling to defend. Too many DeMar DeRozan minutes. Not enough Draymond Green minutes. These problems looked like they started to find answers as this game went on. Mostly though, teams just don’t have the depth to stick around with Team USA.
Durant stepped up early on with offense when his team fell behind, and sustained it throughout. He finished with 27 points on 13 shots. Paul George chipped in impressive defense and 17 points.
Spain presents a greater challenge in the semifinals. If Team USA shoots well, it’s unlikely the game stays close. If not, the pressure will be Coach K to find lineups that defend.