In what was supposed to be Team USA’s hardest and sternest test before beginning the real deal, the 2012 Olympic basketball tournament, the Americans cruised to a 100-78 victory over Spain, led by LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in another game that showed everything that makes up for the noticeable deficiencies the 2012 dream team has.
So Coach K has only one real center, and isn’t to keen to use Anthony Davis at the moment? Doesn’t really matter. When you have the luxury of putting LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant on the court at the same time, it doesn’t really matter. Because LeBron can guard all 5 positions, especially in the FIBA kind of game, and the luxury of having a scorer like Carmelo Anthony, who can play both at SF and PF for the national side, scoring 27 points against Spain, is something no other team has.
Spain are the closest thing to an actual rival, although both Argentina and Brazil made life harder for the American team. Pau Gasol had 19 points and Serge Ibaka scored 16. So teams are going to enjoy a bit of an edge in the paint. It doesn’t really matter with Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the back-court. The different units and lineups coach K uses are all too fast and too athletic for any team to handle. All the American team needs if focus, and all the problems they had in certain moments during the 5 preparation games disappear.
It happened against Spain as well. As long as the defensive focus was up, Spain had no chance. Any attempt to play quick basketball is doomed right from the start. There’s no way of outrunning this team. Only playing slow, methodical, inside-outside basketball works, but it’s very difficult to implement for long stretches, hoping that LeBron James (or at least three other players) don’t suddenly decide they feel like taking over the game. The differences are that big, especially when it’s time for bench action.
Spain had their moments of size advantage, especially when Tyson Chandler left early because of two quick fouls. Not to worry. One of the bigs had to guard Carmelo Anthony, and non of the big men on the Spanish roster or on any other team that Team USA might happen to run into during the Olympic tournament have the ability to guard and defend the perimeter. Again, too much versatility and ability to play multiple positions for most of the NBA stars. The mismatches are just too much.
There’s too much comparison going on with the 1992 original Dream Team. That was a one time thing. Global basketball was light years behind at that point, and Chuck Daly didn’t need a single timeout while his team cruised to 30,40 and 50 point wins. We’re 20 years later, and the gaps have been slimmed down. It’s not that this team isn’t as good. They might not be a group of living legends like the one from 20 years ago, with Jordan, Magic and Bird on the same team, but dominating the way they are in this day of age is just as impressive.