USA vs. Australia: Comparing Each Team's Starting Lineup
Team USA swept through the group stage at London, but now faces a tougher task: an elimination game against Australia to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic basketball tournament.
The Americans have the advantage at each and every position on the court, but will need to play hard to blow out an upset-hungry Aussie squad that won its final three games of the group stage.
Let's break down the starting lineups, from point guard through center.
United States: Chris Paul
Chris Paul has struggled at times during the Olympics and racked up some of his stats during garbage time, but he's still the best point guard in the world. He's more than capable of making a major impact on both sides of the ball.
With his constant shiftiness and craftiness with the ball, CP3 has served as more of a facilitator on offense than anything else, averaging 7.6 points and 5.8 assists thus far.
On defense, he's a major pest and has been a big part of the American defensive pressure.
Australia: Patty Mills
The top scorer for Australia, Patty Mills has lit up the scoreboards to the tune of 20.2 points per game for the Boomers.
However, he's done so fairly inefficiently, shooting only 41.7 percent from the field.
Mills can score off of penetration—although he's not the most competent ball-handler in the world—or his perimeter game, scoring 13 of his 40 field goals in London from behind the three-point arc.
A lot of the American defensive focus will be on stopping the young guard who plays for the San Antonio Spurs during the NBA season.
United States: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant hasn't been extraordinarily effective on the court for the United States, choosing to take far too many contested jumpers and messing with the flow of the offense.
Instead, he's served as a teacher and a veteran presence on the team. I never thought that Kobe would average more laughs on the bench per game (estimated at 11.2) than points per game (9.4), but that's exactly what he's doing.
Kobe can still be remarkably effective on both ends of the ball, particularly on defense with this squad.
Australia: Matthew Dellavedova
With his hair flopping around, Matthew Dellavedova has found quite a few open teammates, serving primarily as a facilitator even though he's lining up at shooting guard.
The fact that Dellavedova plays the two and Patty Mills the one is necessitated more by height than playing style.
Dellavedova can squeeze the ball into tight spaces at will while minimizing the turnovers, but he'll have to be particularly careful against the relentless pressure he's sure to see from Team USA. As a primary ball-handler for the Aussies, Dellavedova will constantly be faced with a fresh and hustling American defender.
United States: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has been the No. 1 scoring option for Team USA, and he's been given the green light to fire away whenever he feels like he should.
Whether he's hitting shots from just in front of halfcourt, as he did in the Americans' last game against Argentina, or leaking out in transition and throwing down an emphatic breakaway slam, Durant is going to get buckets.
He's been averaging a team-high 18.6 points per game, and that's not likely to change much anytime soon. Durant is a mismatch for any player in the world.
Australia: Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles has enjoyed a great tournament for the Boomers, but that's about to change now that he's going up against the second-best basketball player in the world.
Starting at small forward in all five games, Ingles has averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.2 blocks and 0.8 steals per game.
Ingles has some athleticism and possesses great court vision, but he's going to have to hit his patented fade-away jumper far more than normal if he's going to make up for his defensive deficiencies on the perimeter.
United States: LeBron James
Even though he hasn't completely dominated at London, LeBron James has proven that he's easily the best player in the world.
He hasn't needed to score in high volume, but has shown absolutely no hesitance to take over the game offensively when the score is tight and the time is winding down.
Instead, LeBron has served as a facilitator and has made a number of otherworldly passes. He scores when he needs to, passes the rest of the time and plays elite defense throughout the game.
This is LeBron's team.
Australia: David Andersen
The 6'11" power forward is averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, but will have his work cut out for him if he's expected to guard LeBron out on the perimeter.
David Andersen isn't a particularly great defender, and prefers to do most of his work on offense. His size and quickness allow him to get by, but Andersen has never shown much motivation or technique when it comes to the less glamorous side of the court.
Andersen can spread the court on offense, knocking down shots from the perimeter and showing off a few post moves in the paint. The big man has hit eight three-pointers in the Olympic competition through the group stage and must add to that total against Team USA.
United States: Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler is officially the starting center for Team USA, but he'll spend more time on the bench than out on the court as soon as Mike Krzyzewski decides to start playing small-ball and going with sets than involve multiple point guards.
The NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year is on the roster for only one reason. You guessed it: defense.
He's never asked to score, unless he grabs an offensive rebound and finishes the play or is in prime position to complete an alley-oop.
Australia: Aleks Maric
A 6'11" center who will split time with Matt Nielsen, Aleks Maric has averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the Boomers.
He plays a similar role to Chandler, as he only finds himself on the court for 10 minutes per contest and sits out as smaller and more versatile players are sent out into the lineup.
Maric is an efficient scorer, but he's not a good athlete and struggles on defense.