Olympic Basketball Semi Finals 2012: How Injuries Will Affect USA and Spain

Sam QuinnContributor IIIAugust 10, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives aganst Ian Mahinmi #28 of the Dallas Mavericks during the game at Amway Center on March 30, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Congratulations Argentina and Russia: you have slightly realistic chances to beat the early gold/silver medalists today!

Please allow me to explain: under normal circumstances Spain and Team USA would steamroll both of these teams, but injuries have completely changed the landscape of these Olympics.

Thanks to injuries to Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin and Dwyane Wade, Team USA is at considerably less than full strength. While Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook can offset the injuries to Wade and Rose, losing the three big men completely changed how Team USA could play.

Now they're trotting out a small-ball lineup with the offensively inept Tyson Chandler as their only big man. That gimmick is going to hurt them against Argentina.

Argentina isn't particularly big either, but Luis Scola is one of the better forwards in the field. He'll be able to take advantage of Team USA's lack of size. Similarly, Manu Ginobili will be able to wreak havoc if he can get to the rim.

Spain could do the same if they weren't just as decimated by injuries. First and foremost, they are without star point guard Ricky Rubio.

Rubio's injury forces Spain to use the washed up duo of Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro in the backcourt. Russia's Alexy Shved is going to take advantage of that and abuse them in their semifinal game.

It also means that they have nobody to really facilitate the offense. Calderon has good chemistry with the rest of the team, but he's no star. Rubio is among the best passers in the world, he makes everything easier for his teammates.

That's not all Spain is dealing with; both guards and Marc Gasol have dealt with injuries that have limited their minutes and ability to play well. 

That means that even if they can get to a gold medal rematch with Team USA, their biggest advantage (size) is slightly hindered by Gasol's injury.

We'll still most likely see a USA-Spain gold medal match, but it's by no means a lock anymore. Either Argentina or Russia could easily shake things up. That's because neither team is at full strength.