London Basketball 2012: What Team USA Must Do to Destroy Spain in Gold Final
The 2012 London Olympics has had tremendous, quality basketball, and now it comes down to a United States and Spain matchup in the gold-medal final.
North Greenwich Arena will be jam-packed with noise, emotion and excitement from the start for the Americans. Team USA (7-0) comes into this match playing their best ball of the tournament—they outright destroyed Argentina in the second half of the semifinals to claim a spot in the final.
Meanwhile, the Americans bump heads with a gutsy and surefire talented Spain (5-2) side. The Spanish are outlasting opponents and putting up stellar defensive performances. They have given up just 59 points each of the last two games.
This is a game that has the potential to go down to the wire, but there are several ways Team USA can run away with this contest as well.
These are the three keys to a blowout victory for LeBron James and his United States side.
Cut off the Supply, Put a Stop to Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon is a monster at the PG spot and has been destroying teams with his dominant play at the spot.
This comes as no surprise considering the type of year he posted in the league in the 2011-12 campaign. He ranked fourth-best with 8.8 assists per game in the NBA and was also No. 1 in player in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. Calderon averaged just two turnovers per game last season.
To say this guy is efficient is an outright understatement.
Yet it's not just his passing ability that's hurting teams in London, it's also the scoring game he boasts that has teams on their heels. He can shoot from distance, go to the cup off the dribble and pull up from 10-20 feet. Calderon posted 14 points and shot 4-for-9 from three-point range in the team's most recent semifinals victory over Russia.
If he can sustain this type of production against a stronger USA defense, this will certainly hurt the American's chances at taking gold.
Keep the Pau Gasol off the Glass
When Spain's best gets going with rebounds and tip-slams, he's a difficult player to stop.
Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and even LeBron James need to do a fine job of putting a body on Gasol and not allowing him the space in the paint to maneuver.
He comes in fresh off of a 16-point, 12-rebound performance against Russia in the semifinals win, arguably his best effort at the Games.
Yet it is also key to get physical defensively because he can also pass effectively out of the post. It's not just his scoring and rebounding—it's also his vision that destroys opponents.
Get Out to a Fast Start
Team USA has found themselves in tough games in the second half too many times to count—vs. Lithuania, Australia, Argentina and even Tunisia for some time—and what can help them to avoid that is a strong first half.
In the 100-78 exhibition-game win for the United States in Barcelona, just before the London Olympics, the Americans had a scare when they let Spain take the lead for a solid amount of time.
It wasn't until the closing minutes of the half the team turned it up and took a seven-point lead with them to break.
This is the one moment that this squad has been waiting for. The second coming of the "Dream Team" now has a chance to prove they are better than the 1992 squad. It will take that quick start to cruise by this Spain team, as this team should be ready to put up a plethora of points early.
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