Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Olympics: Brazil Holds Off Australia & Other Sunday Game Analysis


No surprise Australia was able to take Brazil down to the wire. Solid veteran team with a quality frontline that could matchup fairly well with Brazil' size.

Both teams did not shoot the ball well, but that was somewhat a byproduct of two quality defensive teams squaring off. Both teams were horrid from deep. The Aussies did a nice job crowding Brazilian sharpshooter Marcelo Machado.

But the refs (as FIBA refs are wont to do) helped make this game a slog. Just like nearly every other game on Sunday, foul trouble ruined the flow and messed with the minute distribution of each team. Aussie big man Aleks Maric picked up four fouls in eight minutes.

Leandro Barbosa (16 pts) was in attack mode most of the game--sometimes this led to good things, other times, not so good. Barbosa converted some nice finishes in transition, but tempered that with his usual handful of forced plays in transition (probably had 2-3 TOs in trans.)

Marcelo Huertas (15 pts, 10 assts) didn't shoot the ball great, but did knock down some off-balance shots. Hit a few of his patented floaters/runners and even threw in a nifty one-legged fadeaway off a spin move. His penetration got him to the FT line nine times and opened up shots for his teammates.

He's so tough to contain because he changes direction with the dribble so well. One play in particular where he used a hesitation/fake spin move of the left side that led to sweet pass to a cutting Barbosa.

Like he did last year, Tiago Splitter had difficulty with his touch--2-for-10 shooting. But he did provide his usual sound defense and rebounding. With Nene and Varejao, Tiago did a nice job defending ball screens and when getting switched onto guards.

Andy Varejao (12 pts, 7 rebs) was his usual Johnny-on-the-spot self (not sure how to say in Portuguese) sneaking to open spots for scores. Made a nice flash cut to hit a foul-line jumper with three minutes remaining. Then he snuck in for a big put-back 40 seconds later that gave Brazil a 71-64 lead (Andy had four off. rebs).

Both teams looked to push in transition, and the Aussies were successful getting out on the fast break early in the game. Brazil has success on baseline cuts (flex screen/cut action) during the game.

Patty Mills (20 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assts) was a force in the open floor and did a great job attacking all game. There were couple times where he just blew-by defenders who were ahead of him in transition. But Patty was not reliable with his jumper (1-for-9 on 3PA).

Joe Ingles was clutch in the 4th, scoring 11 of 15 pts in the last five minutes of the game. Had two nice drives off of isolation in the 4th quarter and made a terrific read going backdoor for a lay-in that cut the lead to two with 30 secs left.

Dave Andersen flashed his sweet stroke with jumpers inside and out. Dave was big in the 2nd half (all 14 pts came in 2nd) with turnaround jumpers over both shoulders and two big 3pt. makes in the 4th.

Argentina 102, Lithuania 79: Didn't expect this outcome. Thought this match would be tighter, but Argentina's offense was in vintage mode. The ball movement and spacing were on point, plus Carlos Delfino couldn't miss from deep (6-for-9 from 3pt. line).

Argentina hit nearly 51% of their shots and 40.7% on 3PA. These are numbers similar to last summer.

Luis Scola was in his usual FIBA-beast form on the offensive end--32 pts on 12-of-19. Did damage on the blocks with a couple righty hooks, popping to the FT line and slipping/rolling to the rim. Threw in a couple of his patented scoop shots and drew fouls (13 FTA) as usual.

Manu did a bunch of ball-handling as ueual and slithered his way to rim multiple times to finish off some high-difficulty shots. Manu was off with his jumper (1-for-7 on 3PA), but was terrific in every other aspect of the game contributing 10 rebs, six assts and four steals.

We mentioned in our Sunday preview of games that Argentina's ability to gets steals combined with Lithuania's perennial problems with turnovers would be a factor. Argentina generated 12 steals which often led to easy buckets the other way. Jumped passing lanes well.

NY Knick Pablo Prigioni dropped a few perfect bounce passes and knocked down two 3pt. shots up against the shot clock; two things he has a knack for.

Wondered about Lithuania's defensive integrity in our preview and Sunday performance's can't make the passionate Lithuania's fans happy. Their pick-n-roll coverage was dicey at the Pre-Olympic tourney, and it was hurting vs. Argentina.

Actually, Lithuania was not that bad on the offensive end. Yes, they did turn the ball over 16 times (which is about normal for them), but they did shoot 46.7%.

The one area that was peculiar was the 3pt. shooting. It's not so much that they only shot 30%, it was they only attempted 10 shots from behind the arc. The sweet-shooting Lithuania are usually not shy about getting up their deep shots.

Lithuania got solid play from their frontline. Linas Kleiza (20 pts on 7-for-11) did a nice job scoring on his post-ups and hit mid-range jumpers and runners throughout the game. Veterans Darius Songaila (11 pts) and Paulius Jankunas (14 pts) scored around the rim.

Lithuania backcourt let them down. The PG combo of Saras Jasikevicius and Mantas Kalinietis combined for seven TOs and 4-of-17 shooting. Martynas Pocius was going way too fast which led to six TOs.


USA 98, France 71: Team USA didn't look amazing but really had little trouble with the French. Ragged offensively--USA only shot 43% from the field and 32% from deep. But they did get to the FT line 38 times.

On the flip side, the defense tighten the screws in the 2nd quarter (as they usually do) after leaving some gaps for easy French scores in the 1st. The US held France to 39% shooting and 2-for-22 on 3PA, while forcing 18 TOs.

Obviously their defensive pressure helped them take over the game in the 2nd quarter, but thought their offensive effort in the quarter was just as impressive. They looked kind of Euro-y in spots with some nice player movement in their sets.

Still, Team USA stopped the ball a bit too much (14 iso plays for the game). USA hurt the French in transition, getting out on the fast break 24 times.

Kevin Durant led the way with 22 pts while Kevin Love stepped up with 14 pts. Lebron and Kobe did a nice job filling in the gaps around them.

Team USA basically has three days off in row as they play Tunisia on Tuesday.

Other Sunday results:
Spain 97, China 81; Russia 95, Great Britain 75; Nigeria 60, Tunisia 56:

Tuesday Games of the Day:
*-(Times are London Time, five hours ahead of EST)

France vs. Argentina (8pm):
Easily the most interesting game of the day. Winner likely secures 2nd-place in Group A. Argentina looked sensational vs. Lithuania while it's tough to gauge France as they had to play the US.

On a positive note, Tony Parker looked alright in the US game and didn't seemed to bothered by the goggles. Parker is bad matchup for Pablo Prigioni, who has trouble keeping average PGs in front of him.

France does have capable wing defenders that could do a decent job on Manu and Delfino. Nic Batum and Mickael Gelabale could matchup well vs. the Argentine wings. This issue is Scola could cause problems as he draws fouls at a high clip while the French centers, Ronny Turiaf and Kevin Seraphin, tend to foul too much.

Lithuania vs. Nigeria (2:30 pm): This game could factor into who gets the final knockout bid from Group A. Lithuania has revenge on their mind as Nigeria upset them in group play, 86-80, at the Pre-Olympic tourney a month ago.

Though, it's up for debate how serious Lithuania took that game since they just needed to keep the game within 10 points to advance to the quarterfinals in Caracas.

Not sure how Lithuania's collective psyche is doing after being thrashed by Argentina. They had issues with turnovers, and one area where Nigeria is dangerous, is causing TOs.

Nigeria clearly has the advantage athletically and they are great rebounding team. Nigeria's main issue is their half-court offense is usually not pretty. Lithuania really should aim to slow the pace and keep this a half-court type of affair because Lithuania is the polar opposite of Nigeria in the half-court.

Lithuania should also pack the painted area as Nigeria will usually only have one quality shooter (Derrick Obasohan or Chamberlin Oguchi) on the floor at once.

Have to imagine Lithuania will right the ship and payback Nigeria.


At 4:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that Parker's speed looked all right, but his outside shot was still off. On top of that he has a shoulder injury. Not sure if it was visible on TV, but his shoulder was taped up.

Definitely not France's best effort, they had plenty of open threes that they missed. New Spur Nando De Colo got a nice NBA welcome and took about three quarters to score his first points.

That said, it was a good warm-up game for France. They are usually the most athletic team on the floor, but the US are really the only team who is better than them in that area. Tony Parker is used to slicing through defenses like butter for jumpers, but not against Westbrook and Paul. Looking forward to the Argentina game today, like you said, it will likely decide who comes in 2nd in the group and thereby can avoid Russia in the quarterfinals.

Noticed some baffling defensive match-ups in the China-Spain game. Marc Gasol was guarding Yi Jinalian and Pau Gasol was on Whang ZhiZhi. Marc could not guard Yi, who is way too fast for him and pulled him away from the basket.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Eodlci said...

About Lithuania's lack of 3PT attempts, that was precisely Argentina's defensive strategy. They didn't let Lithuania's shooters get open, forcing the Europeans to rely on their individual match-ups in the pick and roll, which proved unsuccessful for them.

Let's see how Argentina's defensive intensity holds throughout the tournament.

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