It's now win or go home as the 2012 Men's Olympic Basketball pool has been whittled down to eight teams with four games left in the fight for those three coveted pieces of hardware.
Team USA (5-0) goes up against Australia (3-2) in the quarterfinal game Wednesday, and there are a couple key players that you need to watch.
The first standout player to keep an eye on in the quarterfinal matchup is the NBA's reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant. On Monday, Durant said don't cry for me Argentina as he catapulted Team USA into the quarterfinal game with their 126-97 win. His 28 points and eight three-pointers were overwhelming as what was a close game at the start soon turned into a blowout.
He's simply had the ability—in all five games so far—to shoot the lights out. And why wouldn't he? He does it against the NBA's best, night in and night out, so the Olympics are no different. He's averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 boards, 3.8 assists and is second in steals on the team behind Chris Paul. No other player for Team USA has been more consistent, and Durant's impact will have a lot to do with the kind of medal USA leaves the London games with.
The other key player to watch is Australia's Patrick Mills. The six-foot Australian has had stints in the NBA since being drafted by Portland in 2009, and played some significant minutes last season with the Spurs. Mills has typically been a benchwarmer here in the United States but in these Olympic games, he has been the second leading scorer in the tournament, so there is no chance of him going unnoticed by Team USA in their quarterfinal matchup.
Mills is coming off of the game winning three-pointer that he hit against Russia to give them their only loss of the tournament, and nobody can ignore his tournament high 39-point effort against Great Britain, surpassing Carmelo Anthony's 37 point game for Team USA.
Mills is unquestionably brimming with confidence, and if you pair that with the fact that he has no fear, he is definitely someone to watch. Mills told Jon Ralph of the Herald Sun about Australia's mindset heading into the quarterfinal game:
"We have got to (believe we can beat the US). This is what our game is all about. They are the best and what better opportunity to do that than in the quarter final. That's the belief we have to have."
Team USA should be able to survive Australia, even if Durant doesn't pour in his best game. However Patty Mills will have to have a game similar to that 39-point night he had against Great Britain if Australia has any chance to prevail.
My prediction: USA wins 105-90.
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