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Recap: Team USA 92 Greece 69

Five observations after Team USA's positively easy, 92-69 (recap/quotes) thumping of Greece:

  • Team USA won each quarter against the Greeks. That might not seem like a huge deal, but it's indicative of frighteningly consistent play and a truly thorough win over a strong opponent. And accomplishing the feet is unusual. It marked one of just five games out of 18 in the Olympics so far that a team has won each quarter. The others? Germany over Angola 95-66. USA over China 101-70. Australia over Iran 106-68. Argentina over Croatia 77-53. Angola or Iran can suffer such a fate, sure, but it's just not something that happens to elite teams like Greece. For more perspective, consider that the Bucks outscored its opponent in all four quarters once in 82 games last season.
  • Dwyane Wade is both a sixth man and the best player in the tournament thus far, though I won't bother arguing with someone who picks LeBron James, and Chris Bosh has been nothing short of brilliant. The Marquette product is leading the world averaging 18.3 points, and he's doing it efficiently, as his scalding-hot 76 % field goal percentage attests to. He burned Greece's vaunted defense for 17 points and five assists in just 20 minutes. Unreal per-minute production to be sure. And guess what? His defensive performance may have been even better. He finished the game with six steals, two more than the entire Greece team had. Next time someone talks about Americans not being able to defend, well... It's not that one Team USA guy off the bench is better at defense than the best defensive national team all put together, but yeah. Might want to hush that talk for a bit. And when I say a bit, I mean until further notice.
  • So, is there anything wrong with this team after such a swanky performance? Yes. The team's starting point guard not only hasn't scored (or attempted a shot for that matter), but has more turnovers (5) and fouls (5) than assists (4). Fortunately, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are equally adept and are both getting almost twice as many minutes as Kidd. The more unforeseen problem is free-throw shooting. Team USA rank 11th out of 12 teams at 64.4 % at the line. Remember Wade's silly field goal percentage? Well, it's better than his 66.7 % mark from the stripe. That type of strange split is supposed to be reserved for guys like Shaq, not someone who won a Finals MVP at the free throw line (he made 58-71 in the Heat's four wins). James is an even more egregious culprit so far, converting on only 4-10. They are better shooters typically, so the numbers will improve. And more good news is Team USA ranks second in free throws attempted, even if it doesn't seem like they are getting to the line a ton. Thus, free throw shooting isn't a big worry, though I sure hope not to see Dwight Howard in at the end of a close game with the way Chris Bosh is playing, and can shoot from the line.
  • Speaking of a hypothetical (because that's all we have right now) close game late in the fourth quarter, will Michael Redd be on the floor, as many assumed before tournament began? Despite ranking 10th in minutes played with just 33, his four three-pointers are the most on Team USA. But his role has been sharply reduced since last summer's FIBA Americas tournament, when he was fourth on Team USA in scoring with 14.4 points.
  • The Redd question is even more salient because similar to the free throw issues, Team USA has shot a woeful 29.2 % from beyond the arc, good enough only for last. This is particularly baffling not only because of the short line and collection of excellent shooters, but because of the team's hot outside shooting in the FIBA's a year ago, when Team USA hit 47.0 %. For that reason, I'm not really buying that Kobe and company are having problems adjusting to the short line. The teams are far better defensively at the Olympics than the FIBA's, so that certainly plays a part in the decline, but mostly, it's an aberration based on a small sample size. As such, the numbers are only going to go up, just like with the free throw shooting. That's good news for Team USA and bad news for the rest of the world.