Anytime the United States sends a basketball team filled with NBA talent to an international event, it is expected to come away with the championship. The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup will be no different.
In order to get to the championship rounds, the United States has to navigate its way through Group C. Here is a look at the other squads in that group, as well as a glance at the entire USA slate throughout the World Cup.
|United States||Dominican Republic|
|Saturday, Aug. 30||United States vs. Finland||3:30 p.m.|
|Sunday, Aug. 31||United States vs. Turkey||3:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday, Sept. 2||United States vs. New Zealand||11:30 a.m.|
|Wednesday, Sept. 3||United States vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.|
|Thursday, Sept. 4||United Staes vs. Ukraine||11:30 a.m.|
|Sept. 6-7||Round of 16||TBD|
|Sept. 14||Gold Medal Game||TBD|
*Schedule information courtesy of USA Basketball's official website.
The first thing that immediately jumps out about that schedule is the back-to-backs on tap. The five games the red, white and blue play before the round of 16 come within six days of each other, and there is a stretch of three contests in three days.
Considering the realization that Kevin Durant and Kevin Love already pulled out of competition, DeMarcus Cousins is dealing with a banged up knee and Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury, there is probably some concern about durability.
Then there is Derrick Rose, who will always be an injury risk given his unfortunate past. John Schuhmann of NBA.com and Marc Stein of ESPN provided updates on Rose, who doesn’t quite appear ready to play in three games in three days yet if the team was taking precautions after one exhibition contest:
Derrick Rose did not participate in the full practice today. It's likely that he will not start vs. DOM tomorrow.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) August 19, 2014
No Derrick Rose in this Team USA practice on ESPN2. "Planned light day" and knees in ice for D-Rose after his United Center return SAT night— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 18, 2014
What’s more, Mike Krzyzewski will have to cut the roster down to 12, so he won’t have the luxury of a 16-man team like he does during the exhibition warm-ups.
With that in mind, it is possibly noteworthy that Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver, DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward and Andre Drummond saw very little combined time in the exhibition against Brazil, but Coach K tried to quiet any assumptions in a televised interview on ESPN2:
People read into everything. That's part of the world we live in. That's why we have shows. Because if they weren't talking about that, no one would be watching. ... First of all, you never play 16 guys in a game, so we have to take a look at certain things. In these next two games, we'll look at more and then hopefully we'll be down, before we go to Gran Canaria, to about 12.
Most of the proven commodities on this team are on the perimeter, including Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
With so many games, how many minutes the big men receive will be something to watch. There is likely a showdown with Spain looming in the later rounds, so keeping the post players fresh for the Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka triumvirate will be important.
Anthony Davis answered some questions about the team’s depth inside when he played like an absolute superstar in the exhibition contest with Brazil. He led the way with 20 points, and his speed, athleticism and ability to get out in the open floor could pose a serious problem for Spain.
For as great as the Gasols and Ibaka are, none of them are capable of extending their games the length of the court like Davis is on a nightly basis.
Coach K will want to keep Davis relatively fresh before that matchup, so he is going to need production from Cousins, Drummond, Kenneth Faried and Mason Plumlee (presuming they all make the team, which may not be the case).
The United States is not exactly lining up David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon out there, but it should be enough to get Davis into that Spain game with fresh legs. If that’s the case, the red, white and blue could come home with the championship.
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