Dare We Dream?
Despite never beating the USA, Australia has fared reasonably since Athens.
In 2012, Australia trailed by 14 at the half and held that deficit going into the fourth quarter before Kobe and Lebron blew Australia away in the 4th, beating us 119-86.
In 2008, Australia hung with the US for the first quarter, down just 25-24 before getting taken out in the third and fourth quarters, going down 116-85.
In 2004, Australia led 67-65 going into the last quarter but went down to 89-79 thanks to a rescue job by Tim Duncan and Shawn Marion.
The Aussies come into this game after two tough contests against elite teams. The US comes in after two blowouts against the worst teams in the group. It will be a big step up for the US....but a bigger step up for Australia.
There's a few reasons to be hopeful we'll be super competitive though.
1/ Delly. Averaging 10.5 assists over the two games, doing a great job of creating easy baskets for team mates and giving it all on D. The only Boomer who could hit from outside in the first three quarters before Joe and Patty joined the party.
2/ Bogut and Baynes. The US are unlikely to play their two biggest guys (Cousins and Jordan) at the same time but if they do, Australia will make them work. Expect them to try to take Bogut outside by playing more of Cousins, although he stunk Rio out with his game versus Venezuela. If Australia starts Bogut and Baynes at the 4 and 5 and the US starts Cousins and Durant at the 4 & 5, Baynes will be in trouble matching up on Durant but would aim to beat him up on the other end. I'd expect Ingles to get the start on Durant and we might see some Brock Motum early, who is one of our better options against Durant or Melo.
3/ Delly and Mills should be able to hold their own against Kyrie and Klay defensively. Thompson is 1/11 so far and Delly will have some ideas on what to throw at Kyrie.
4/ Probably the most pleasing thing about the two games was how Australia got the job done in the fourth quarter and how guys who'd been down did something to seal the game. This isn't a Boomers team relying on one or two guys and six guys have all had key contributions.
Some tinkering I'd like/expect to see versus the USA.....
-Some Brock Motum
-Lemanis to ensure Andersen always plays at the 4 and spreads the minutes right for Bogut/Baynes
If Australia can get something more from Ingles, Broekhoff and Andersen in particular and Baynes and Bogut can remain composed and out of foul trouble, we should witness a great game. A loss is a lot more likely than a win but the boys are playing well, aren't scared and know this is the best credentialed squad they've ever put up against the US.
Thursday can't come quick enough.