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Team USA vs Greece Live Blog!

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I have yet to write hardly anything about the Olympics even though it is the biggest story in all of basketball this offseason.  In penance I will attempt to live blog Team USA’s first major test so far in the form of the Greek National Team. 

 

Greece is the perfect example of the type of team that causes trouble for whatever conglomeration of talent the United States throws out on the court in major international competitions over the previous eight years.  They are not athletic.  They are not flashy.  They just play hard and execute the heck out of their schemes on both ends of the floor. 

 

I need not remind anyone of the result last time these two squads matched up in the semifinals of the World Championships.  Team USA is a big, big favorite in the sports books around the world, but many in the basketball community believe the US is ripe for yet another stumble. 

 

The only thing that is more of an unknown than the outcome of the game is whether or not I will be able to actually get up in time to watch the game and I am hoping to buy myself time by writing this before I go to bed on Wednesday. 

 

Let’s hope for the best in both the outcome of the game and for my ability to answer the bell or actually the alarm. 

 

See you in six hours…maybe.

 

5:59 AM:  Alright.  Tip off is at hand.  This may be the first time in my life I wished that I drank coffee.

6:01 AM:  Team USA stops a pick and roll on one end and the frigid Kobe Bryant makes his first shot at the other end.  US up 2-0!

6:04 AM:  I still have not figured out figured our if I am actually going to try to spell the Greek's names or not.  At this point even if I tried I would not get them right.

6:05 AM:  Kidd gets his third foul.  I wonder if Coach K kept him in the game just so he had an excuse not to play him.

6:06 AM:  OK, the refs are clearly in the bag for Greece.  Three fouls on Kidd and now a no call after Kobe gets shoved and air balls a layup.  Kobe makes the protest foul, but that is not going to matter with international refs.

6:08 AM:  Melo drains a three on his first shot.  He has been a little disappointing so far, but hopefully this is the start for a big game for Melo.

6:10 AM:  A touch foul on Melo results in a three point play when no one boxes out the shooter on a free throw moments after Doug Collins points out that the US looks a little flat.

6:12 AM:  Half way through the first quarter and this looks like the worst case scenario for the US.  Poor shooting and a slow pace has this game going exactly according to the Peloponnesian Plan.

6:15 AM:  A couple of turnovers and a couple of fast break scores reminds everyone how quickly the US can put points on the board.  The game is tied at 13...I think.  The score has disappeared from the screen.

6:18 AM:  Melo does a good job bodying up Sofoklis "Baby Shaq" and forces a 24 second violation. 

6:20 AM:  The second half of the first quarter looked much more like the type of game the US wants to play.  They forced some turnovers, played some decent D and ended the quarter up 20-16 which I believe is a 13-3 run.  Greece is going to have to hit some shots from behind the arc if they want to win this game and so far they are 0-4.

6:23 AM:  Two Greek possessions in the second quarter and two turnovers, the second one resulting in an amazing alley oop from Wade to Kobe as Wade saved the ball from going out of bounds along the side line and tosses up a perfect pass for the dunk.  Amazing! 

6:25 AM:  After Kobe blows an alley oop on one end, Dwight Howard gets called for his second foul as Greece pushes the ball back at the US on the other.  The US cannot afford to have Howard get into foul trouble and Bosh quickly replaces him.

6:27 AM:  The US is passing the ball very well on offense.  Kobe continues to be ice cold from the perimeter.  So far the best players for the US have been Wade and Bosh.  Wade creating havoc with his defense and Bosh has been getting his hands on the ball defensively and making himself available in the paint on offense.

6:29 AM:  Bosh gets called for his second foul and that has to be a concern for Coach K, but he stays in the game.

6:31 AM:  After stabilizing a little bit Greece's lack of athleticism is really starting to show up when the US has the ball.  They are consistently about a half a step behind on their rotations in the zone and the US is getting almost anything they want at the rim off of penetration.

6:32 AM:  Wade is absolutely taking over this game.  After a three point play and another driving lay up he hits a three to put the US up 10.

6:33 AM:  Can someone please keep Kobe from shooting?  This team does not need his offense to win, but he keeps forcing shots.

6:36 AM:  Greece is doing a good job of spreading the court and penetrating.  The US has done a fine job on the pick and roll, but they still are slow helping off on drives.

6:37 AM:  Kobe gives me the big middle finger after my comment at 6:33 AM with a long three.

6:39 AM:  Another turnover results in a sweet reverse dunk by LeBron.  The US is imposing it's will up 46-30.

6:41 AM:  A beautiful pick and roll by LeBron and Bosh results in an and one for Bosh.  US up by 19 late in the first half.

6:42 AM:  Greece misses yet another open three.  They are 0-6.

6:44 AM:  The first half ends with Chris Bosh blocking a three pointer at the buzzer and the US heads to the locker room up 51-32.  Wade and Bosh were great in the first half and a major key to the success of the Redeem Team was Bosh's ability to play aggressive with two fouls and not pick up his third. 

 

Carmelo finished the half with three points on 1/3 shooting.  The way Wade is playing and with the point guard's ability to penetrate Melo is not needed as a big contributor on offense.  Melo has the fewest shot attempts out of anyone American who played at least ten minutes in the first half.  He needs the ball in his hands in order to get in a rhythm.  When he is turned into a catch and shoot player who only touches the ball every few minutes he is not going to be an offensive factor. 

The good news is he is putting forth effort on defense and has fought for some loose balls and rebounds.

 

Looking at the half time stats the reasons for the 19 point spread is evident.  We already mentioned that Greece is 0-6 from downtown.  The US has eight steals and has forced 13 turnovers.  Plus they have outrebounded the Greeks 32-14.

 

I seriously doubt the Greeks can come back in this game, but obviously, anything can happen.

6:59 AM:  The real good news is thanks to the 20 minute halves in international basketball this game will be over before I have to get my daughter ready for her first day of school.  Apart from actually waking up in time to watch the game, missing the end in order to get her dressed and fed was my second biggest fear.

7:00 AM:  It is fun to see the US going after shots on the rim.  They have really taken to that part of the game and with their athleticism, it is a rule they can really take advantage of.

7:01 AM:  Melo gets fouled after a quick post up in transition and hits both free throws.  Five points for Melo.

7:02 AM:  Greece hits their first three pointer of the game.  They are going to have to be red hot from downtown to make this a game.

7:04 AM:  Greece hits their second three in a row to draw within 17.  The US needs to do a better job of recovering after penetration. 

7:05 AM:  Melo puts the US back up 20 with a three from the corner.  He loves that short three point line.

7:08 AM:  Another steal results in another break away dunk for Kobe.  US up by 22.

7:11 AM:  I do not like that weird pattern in the back of the uniforms for the US.  It grates on me.

7:12 AM:  Wade does a great job of bodying up to Baby Shaq and forcing him out of the lane on a pick and roll for another turnover.

7:15 AM:  Melo misses a three and Greece has the ball down only 16.

7:18 AM:  Wade finishes the third quarter with a three point play that puts the us back up by 20.  At the end of three it is 74-54.  The US did a good job of weathering a little push by Greece that saw them hit three three pointers and they only turned the ball over four times.  Even so, the Americans outscored Greece by one point in the quarter 23-22.

7:21 AM:  Bosh tips the ball off the rim at one end and scores on a fast break lay up on the other.  He has been great, playing all out every second he is on the floor.

7:23 AM:  One of the subplots the team of Mike Breen and Doug Collins are discussing is the proclamation by Carmleo that he wants to set the record for most rebounds in a game for the US.  The record is 16 and right now he has six with under eight minutes left in the game.  I would be surprised if anyone on this squad plays enough minutes to really challenge that record.

7:26 AM:  After a tremendous set of rotations in transition to deny Greece any open looks Wade rips the ball out of the hands of a driving Greek player and draws a foul pushing the ball back the other way.

7:28 AM:  Coach K puts in the team victory cigar in the person of Tayshaun Prince with just under seven minutes left. 

7:30 AM:  Michael Redd becomes the latest US guard to body up a big man in the lane after a pick and roll forcing a turnover.

7:32 AM:  With the US up 82-58 and less than five minutes left both teams are just awaiting the end of the game.

7:33 AM:  It is pretty clear to me that this team is better with Jason Kidd on the bench.  Defensively he is a complete sieve and with players like Chris Paul and Deron Williams on the team they have two guys who can run the offense and make every pass.  I thought the news that Coach K was thinking about starting Bosh over Dwight Howard was crazy, but after seeing how active Bosh is I can see why he was thinking that.  In today's game Bosh played 21:20 to Howard's 11:36.

7:39 AM:  The only question left is whether or not the US will cover what I believe Chris Sheridan said was a 20.5 point line...that is if you care about that kind of thing.  

7:41 AM:  What perfect timing.  As the US finishes off the Greeks by a score of 92-69 (that’s a cover) my bleary eyed daughter stumbles out of bed and stares at me wondering why daddy is on the computer this early in the morning.  The US handled the Greeks with relative ease and next up is Spain who along with Argentina is one of two teams that can approach the pure talent level of the US team.  The bottom line is three games, three easy wins for the Redeem Team.