Back in 2008, despite all the young stars, it was Kobe Bryant who took team USA on his back in the final against Spain. This time, LeBron James showed that 2012 might be his turn to lead the Dream Team if things get a little tight, like they did in the exhibition game against Brazil.
There’s Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, but when Brazil were up 27-17 and it was evident that facing a team with superior size and height in the paint is going to give the American team a problem, it was LeBron James that the team turned to, getting to stop coach K was demanding and scoring 30 points en route to a 80-69 win in Washington.
The second quarter showed what will be a problem for any team playing team USA in the Olympic games, even Spain. When this team is focused on defense and not just running around trying to make outside shot out of percieved laziness, it’s very hard to get baskets against. The Brazilians were stuck in half court sets that led to bad shots and turnovers, with Chris Paul and Deron Williams finishing with a combined 7 steals.
The rest of the way it was James on offense through outside shooting and on the inside, just like the way he dominated in the Finals. When they’ve got their pace going while not neglecting to lock down on defense, there’s just too much speed, athleticism and versatility and the ability to play multiple positions on this American team for probably all the international competition to handle. On July 24 there’s going to be a big test against Spain, probably the only thing even remotely close to standing in the American way. Any indication of how easy or hard it’s going to be will probably be, at least partially exposed in that game.
This was a big test for us. Just from a standpoint of playing against a team that had mostly bigs that could post-up, that could set screens and was very active out there. If we win the gold medal, it will be because how well we played defensively. That’s where we’re going to make our mark.
We need to defend, we need to rebound and we need to move the ball offensively and get good shots. I felt like we got great shots tonight, we didn’t make a lot of them, but we got great looks. But defensively, we picked it up and that’s what it’s all about. (LeBron James)