After overcoming a slow start, the United States men's basketball team went on a scoring spree to trounce Venezuela on Monday in their second group match at the Rio Games, 113-69. A tougher test awaits Team USA on Wednesday night at Carioca Arena, when the tournament's heavy favorites face the only other undefeated team in Group A.
Australia, coming off a 19-point win over France and a 15-point victory over Serbia, boasts NBA talent and should make things a bit more interesting for Mike Krzyzewski's squad. Former Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut leads a group that includes San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills and new Milwaukee Bucks point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Bogut, now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, spent four seasons with the Warriors, playing alongside Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Dellavedova is coming off a championship season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Krzyzewski pointed out how Dellavedova brings a lot to a pesky Australian squad. While Mills led Australia with 21 points against France and 26 points against Serbia, Dellavedova has contributed 23 total assists in the two games and has been a steady presence for the squad.
“Well, he’s just a continuance of the Australian teams that we’ve played against in my 11 years,” the Duke coach said of Dellavedova after Tuesday’s practice.
“(Australia) always played, first of all with great spirit and togetherness. As good as they are individually, they’re greater as the sum of those parts. They make each other better. They have great comradery, and they are talented. They’re all NBA players, and so they understand what it is to play against our guys, to play with our guys. And then he’s (Dellavedova) their leader as far as toughness goes, and he’s had an amazing two games with 23 assists and one turnover and really setting the tone for his team.”
Australia's roster also includes Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Aron Baynes (Detroit Pistons), but there is one player who could have been a difference maker for Australia.
Kyrie Irving, who was born in Melbourne, had previously considered representing Australia at the London Olympics in 2012. The 24-year-old had even gone as far to declare himself at the time as “an Australian at heart.” Irving, who played at Duke under Krzyzewski, has instead provided the U.S. with an elite playmaker in the absence of Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
Despite what should be a tougher challenge from Australia compared to China and Venezuela, Krzyzewski is expected to stick with the same starting lineup and Australia coach Andrej Lemanis will likely do the same.
The U.S. are expected to rely on Kevin Durant, who scored 25 points against China, and could exploit Australia's weakness on the wing. Paul George could also see an uptick in minutes after leading Team USA in scoring (20 points) against Venezuela.
The U.S. and Australia met in the quarterfinals of the London Games. The U.S. cruised to a 119-86 victory behind 20 points from Kobe Bryant, and 14 rebounds and 11 assists from LeBron James.
Projected Starting Lineups
F Carmelo Anthony
F Kevin Durant
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Kyrie Irving
G Klay Thompson
F Aron Baynes
F Joe Ingles
C Andrew Bogut
G Matthew Dellavedova
G Patty Mills
Point Spread: USA -29
Over/Under: 187.5 points
Prediction: USA over Australia, 102-80