USA vs France: Complete Preview for London 2012 Showdown
Now that the 2012 Team USA basketball team has emerged from the exhibition games unscathed, it faces what may be one of its biggest challenges in London this year when LeBron James and the USA clash with Tony Parker and the France national team.
France touts what may be the closest thing to an NBA roster, and it has an advantage in that the entire team is familiar with one another. Despite only winning one Olympic medal in about the past 60 years, France has the firepower to run with Team USA.
Conversely, the USA roster is arguably one of the best collections of basketball talent in recorded history, even after some elite players had to drop out due to injury.
All hope is not lost for France, however.
Each team has vulnerabilities and matchups that will ultimately determine the outcome of the game. Whichever team exploits these weaknesses and wins said matchups will emerge the victor.
Time & Date: Sunday, July 29, 9:30 a.m. ET
Television: NBC, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN)
Online: NBCOlympics.com will show a live stream every basketball game.
Location: Basketball Arena, Olympic Park, London, England
Starting 5 (Projected)
C Tyson Chandler
PF LeBron James
SF Kevin Durant
SG Kobe Bryant
PG Chris Paul
C Ronny Turiaf
PF Boris Diaw
SF Mickael Gelabale
SG Nicolas Batum
PG Tony Parker
Key Matchups to Watch
Tony Parker vs. Chris Paul, etc.
Parker is an elite talent, and the USA defense is going to have some issues shutting him down. When it comes to facilitating an offense and making those around him better, there are not many who do it better than Parker.
Team USA has a trio of elite talent to counter Parker in Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook, but Parker is a seasoned vet who should take care of the ball and make Paul and company work exceptionally hard for the win.
If Parker can run wild against the pressure defense the USA loves to utilize, France can come away with the victory. Parker excels cutting to the basket, and the major weakness lies down low for this USA squad.
Nicolas Batum vs. USA pressure defense
Batum may not be a household name in the States just yet, but he will be soon. He’s been rapidly improving and transforming himself into a can’t-miss talent. Batum can essentially score at will, and that ability will be furthered playing next to an elite point guard like Parker.
If Batum can get out on the fast break, he could really do some damage to Team USA. Kobe Bryant and company are going to have to focus on not only shutting down Parker’s driving lanes, but sticking to Batum so he cannot hurt them from anywhere on the court.
USA wins if…
The pressure defense the team so greatly utilized in the exhibition game forces Parker and the French offense to turn the ball over frequently. The interior of the defense has to prevent anyone from cutting to the basket and scoring or dishing out to players on the wing.
Offensively, Team USA has to run France off the court. Fast-break scores will be crucial, inside and out. If Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and others are not efficient from three, the game will be a lot closer than USA wants.
France wins if…
Parker and his team limit turnovers. The more France turns the ball over, the easier it is for USA to get out on the break and score off of turnovers. France is by no means a team with limited athleticism, but any team in London will have a hard time running with Team USA.
Defensively, France has the size to limit James and others from getting to the lane and drawing fouls. The trio of Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw and Kevin Seraphin has an advantage inside. The France wings need to stay true and not allow anyone on Team USA to take uncontested shots.
Which team wins?
Outcome Hinges on…
The battle in the middle. The perceived lack of quality big men for USA is strength for France. Tyson Chandler has had issues staying out of foul trouble, which leaves Kevin Love and Anthony Davis to act as the heart of the defense. The former is a solid option, but the latter has yet to play a possession of NBA basketball.
If Chandler gets in foul trouble, which has been a concerning, non-veteran trend to this point, the bigs for France could have a field day. Parker will be allowed to slash and score or dish at will and give Team USA a run for their money.
Prediction: USA 92, France 80
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