Olympic Basketball Schedule 2012: Essential Guide to Week 1 Team USA Action
Dream Team 6.0, redeem team 2.0, or simply Team USA is set to defend their gold medal in men's basketball.
Now that the Olympic Games have begun and the tune-ups are over, this group of NBA stars is ready to start their true schedule. The Americans have four games in the first week, and while none are against chief rival Spain, they should all provide at least some entertainment value to the fans.
Sunday, July 29th, vs. France
Tomorrow's opener against France should be Team USA's biggest test of the opening week, as they won't play another true medal contender until an August 6th date with Argentina.
Team France is led by San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker. When Parker is on he's nearly impossible to defend, but a night club injury is forcing him to wear protective goggles during the Games. If he's effective this game will be close, if not it will be blowout.
Team USA will also have to contend with the $46 million man, Portland's Nicolas Batum. Batum should spend extensive time guarding Kevin Durant and LeBron James, so if he succeeds he could really challenge the American offense.
Luckily for Team USA, Joakim Noah is sitting out the Olympics due to injury. A front line of Noah, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf wouldn't be too impressive on the NBA level, but in the Olympics they could have really taken advantage of FIBA rules and Team USA's lack of depth.
Overall this will be Team USA's closest matchup of week one, but France does not present a true threat to Team USA on the level of Spain, Argentina or Brazil. Expect a double-digit American victory.
Tuesday, July 31st, vs. Tunisia
Need to know how obscure the Tunisian team is? Bleacher Report's extensive picture database didn't have a single image of their team or individual players. This one had to come from Google.
Their claim to fame? Their best player, Salah Mejri, has played on Utah's summer-league team.
Exactly. Team Tunisia is as devoid of talent as we've seen in an Olympic matchup.
That doesn't exactly bode well for them in a matchup with the loaded Americans. LeBron could beat these guys even with his awful Cleveland teammates (sorry Cavs fans, it was just too easy). With the enormous amount of talent Coach K's squad is bringing to the table, this one should be a laugher.
By the way, the Dream Team's biggest victory in 1992 was a 116-48 evisceration of Angola. It'll be interesting to see if the current American squad can match that total. Knowing Coach K though, he'll call off the dogs once the lead balloons into the 30's.
Thursday, August 2nd, vs. Nigeria
Nigeria's team isn't quite as talentless as Tunisia, but the gap isn't huge. They are led by NBA lottery picks Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu.
After those two and Aminu's brother Alade the roster is pretty bare. You can see why this is their first time in the Olympics.
But like Tunisia, Nigeria has absolutely no chance against Team USA. The talent gap between the two teams is just too big.
Saturday, August 4th, vs. Lithuania
While Lithuania doesn't present a real threat to Team USA on the court, this game is still a must-watch because of two players on their roster.
At age 36, this will likely be the last time star Lithuanian point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius plays in the Olympics, and therefore potentially the last time American fans will have a real chance to see him.
He had a brief stint in the NBA, but that doesn't do justice to the type of international player he is. His international resumé is fantastic, including two All-Euroleague teams and a spot on the Euroleague's 2000's All-Decade team.
As one career ends, another begins, and this will be our first real look at future Toronto Raptor Jonas Valanciunas. Toronto took him No. 5 in the 2011 draft and the reviews have been excellent so far.
In 2008 Ricky Rubio wowed us by standing up to Chris Paul, Jason Kidd and Deron Williams. Valanciunas has a chance to do the same by competing with Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis.
Team USA will win this game, but our first look at Valanciunas and potentially our last at Jasikevicius still makes this an important game. Based on what we've heard over the past few years, expect Valanciunas to put up a big game against Team USA's small-ball lineup.