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2012 London Olympics Men’s Basketball Quarterfinals: United States vs. Australia
- Updated: August 6, 2012
Start time: 5:15 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday August 8
United States (5-0, #1 Group A) vs.
Australia (3-2, #4 Group B)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The U.S. responded from a scare against Lithuania by blitzing Argentina in the second half on Monday and cruising to a 126-97 win. Team USA has to be pleased with its preliminary play, but it doesn’t matter anymore, because any loss from here on out would be catastrophic. The Australians finished group play by knocking off Group B winner Russia on a Patrick Mills three at the buzzer. The Aussies have played well throughout the Olympics, having pounded Great Britain and China and suffered narrow defeats to Brazil and Spain.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The United States will look to stop speedster Patrick Mills of the San Antonio Spurs, who has stepped up as Australia’s leader and best player in these Olympics. Mills has played well against the U.S. before, putting up 20 points in the 2008 quarterfinals in Beijing, which the United States won, 116-85. He’s pretty much the only chance for the Aussies to remain competitive in this game.
SUCCESS FOR THE U.S. WOULD BE…Defensive improvement. The Americans allowed Lithuania to shoot 58 percent on Saturday and let Argentina shoot 56 percent in the first half on Monday. You can believe that Mike Kryzyzewski will be all over his guys about not allowing Australia the same luxury. The United States needs to impose its will on defense, pressuring opponents and forcing them to take tough shots. Bringing the intensity early against Australia should allow the Americans to breeze into the semifinals.
SUCCESS FOR AUSTRALIA WOULD BE…Remaining competitive. The Aussies are going to need to rely on lights-out shooting and hope that Team USA has an off night. Australia likes to play an up-tempo pace, which is not a good strategy against the Americans. It’s a tough draw for the men from down under, but this team has the talent to hang in there in the second half if it can catch fire early and take the U.S. off of its game.
PREDICTION: United States 122, Australia 79. The Aussies simply can’t guard the Americans, and don’t have enough firepower to out-gun them the way other teams can. The U.S. will be focused defensively and eager to redeem itself for a sloppy six quarters of play against Lithuania and Argentina.