USA vs. Australia: Players Who Must Step Up for Boomers to Upset Team USA
Australia has never taken down the United States in an Olympic basketball game, so the Boomers will have to make history if they're going to score a massive upset in the quarterfinals at London.
The last time they met was in the quarterfinals at Beijing, when 25 points from Kobe Bryant helped the Americans advance to the semifinals with a 31-point victory.
While the United States blazed through group play with a spotless 5-0 record, Australia lost their first two contests, falling to both Brazil and Spain.
If the Boomers are going to ride out their three-game winning streak, they'll have to do so on the shoulders of these three players.
A 6'11" center who spent the last season in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets, David Andersen will have to play the game of his life and force the United States to abandon the small-ball strategy.
If Andersen—who is averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game—is able to get the better of whoever is playing center for Team USA in an undersized lineup, Mike Krzyzewski will be forced to roll with Tyson Chandler far more than he initially planned.
Andersen isn't exactly a defensive powerhouse, and he's not the best rebounder, but he's a solid option on offense and is more than capable of spreading out the defense.
He's knocked down eight three pointers thus far in the Olympic competition and has shown off quite a few post moves as well.
Hitting a few early shots from the perimeter is key for Andersen, as it will allow the Australian backcourt—the team's strength—to penetrate and avoid the trees in the paint.
The floppy-haired point guard has been sensational in the passing game for the Australian squad through the first five games of the Olympics.
He's found open teammate after open teammate, often squeezing the ball into tight spaces, while minimizing the turnovers. With 23 assists and nine turnovers, Matthew Dellavedova has been the best facilitator for the Boomers.
As one of the primary ball-handlers for the Aussies, Dellavedova is going to face relentless pressure from Team USA. The press will be employed and the defense will always be right up in his grill.
Maintaining control of the ball and allowing the Australian offense to function as normal is essential for the 6'3" guard.
Unquestionably the best player for Australia during the group stage, Patty Mills must continue to score at a high level for his team to have any shot at scoring the massive upset.
I'm not talking about a 15-point performance, but rather exceeding his 20.2 points per game by, oh, roughly 10 points.
Mills has been able to penetrate into the interior of the defense on cuts, although his ball-handling isn't strong enough for him to consistently create his own shot against a quick American defense. He's also done a lot of damage from the perimeter, hitting on 13 of his 39 attempts from three-point range.
He's undersized but speedy, and will need to use that quickness in an advantageous fashion against the United States.
Containing Mills is going to be Team USA's No. 1 priority.
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