Whats wrong with Team USA men’s basketball?
Granted, that’s normally not a question you’d think to ask about an outfit that’s won 73 straight games. But after a pair of close calls, it’s a question some are asking about the US men’s hoops squad.
On Friday, Bogdan Bogdanovic of Serbia missed a three at the buzzer, and the US survived, 94-91. Then on Sunday, the US prevailed by that same margin, edging France 100-97. What’s more, France managed to keep it close even without San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker, who missed the game with a toe injury
So what’s up with this latest version of the Dream Team?
Well, for starters, the world has narrowed the talent gap.
“This isn’t a tournament that we’re going to just dominate,” team USA’s Paul George said in a piece over at ESPN. “There’s talent around this world and they’re showcasing it. For us, it’s just figuring out how we’re going to win.
There certainly are some solid players on the opposing squads. The French lineup, even without Parker, still had Boris Diaw.
But team USA just seems to be playing some mediocre defense. And Kyle Neubeck over at SB Nation chalks up the matador D in part to effort.
Team USA is still comfortably the most talented team in the tournament, and it’s easy to be complacent when you feel you’re a few notches above the competition. But every team in this tournament is gunning for the right to be the team that knocks them off their golden pedestal. Pedestrian efforts are not going to cut it, even with the talent advantage.
So is the US really in danger of losing out on Olympic Gold for the first time since 2004? Not according to one French player.
“Today they didn’t play very good and still won. So they’re still the favorite,” said France center Rudy Gobert.
Those words not enough to comfort you? Don’t worry. Dick Vitale isn’t sweating it. Right Dickie V?
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) August 15, 2016
[image via screengrab]
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