Thoughts on Team USA after their 119-82 destruction of Spain:
- Threeeeeeee! That was the big story of the first half. After shooting so poorly through their first three games, the U.S. destroyed Spain's zone with a 7 for 11 performance behind the arc in that half. That cooled down to 3 for 11 in the second (before Tayshaun Prince hit two in garbage time), so hopefully it wasn't just a 20 minute fluke. Another interesting point: none of those threes came from Michael Redd. Don't know what to think about that just yet.
- Our depth is phenomenal. The second team of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh has been playing BETTER than Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. Wade has been spectacular offensively, scoring 16 in 19 minutes, but what surprises me is how much Bosh stepped up when Howard was out in this game and the last one against Greece. On one play, the U.S. was playing a three-guard line-up of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Bosh. With everyone else on the perimeter, Bosh still held down the paint by himself against two Spaniards with a block and a rebound. He didn't score well today, but he's made his presence felt on the boards and defense.
- The reason Wade and Bosh got so much run, though, was because Bryant and Howard were in so much foul trouble. As effective as Bosh and Carlos Boozer have been in their minutes, Howard is just flat-out unstoppable when he's on the court. He needs to be there during close games in the Medal Round.
- One of the reasons Howard needs to be there is to defend the giants like Pau Gasol, who manhandled Bosh when Bosh tried going man-to-man. Good thing Team USA's team defense has been so great. Did you see Wade flying out of nowhere to block Felipe Reye's shot? Their rotations look great. This is not the same team that couldn't figure out how to defend the pick-and-roll in 2006. Also, I could see the U.S. picking off a lot of balls and getting transition baskets, but I didn't realize their 28 forced turnovers was the second-highest ever for a U.S. Olympic team since the original 1992 Dream Team was taking the world's lunch money, bus ticket, and girlfriends, too.
- On the flip side, Ricky Rubio's vaunted defense looked slightly over-hyped as Chris Paul and Deron Williams beat him like a pinata time and time again. Still, watching Rubio go up against Brandon Jennings next year should be awesome.
- This win was promising, and with only Germany left, the U.S. is likely to sweep its pool. Yet being undefeated in Pool Play means nothing. Spain and Lithuania were the only 5-0 teams after Pool Play in Athens, and neither got a medal. In fact, Spain was knocked out by the 2004 U.S. team, a.k.a. the Dysfunctional Team.
- Only thing that tainted this victory? A text message from my bro, Mark. I gave him the score after the first quarter and asked if he was watching. His reply: "no. im not watching the game. but im watching my girlfriend. she so pretty!" What man says that to another man? I hope he finds where he lost his manhood soon, because I can't talk to this sackless blob.
Great win, but everything gets harder in the Medal Round. Lithuania looks fantastic, and a veteran team like Argentina can't be counted out. The biggest disappointment there has got to be European champion Russia, who has completely collapsed here and likely won't make the Medal Round at all. Team USA, meanwhile, looks like it's regaining its previous Dream Team stature.