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Trying to Figure out Team USA with Olympic Basketball Day 8 Previews, Picks and Daily Fantasy Plays

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This will not be a think piece or someone bitching about how Team USA needs LeBron James, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook. What this is will be explaining my problems with this team and why teams like Serbia and Australia are playing them so tough.

First and foremost the defense, which was supposed to be the strength of this team has disappeared. When this team got put together we saw a bunch of dudes standing between 6’7 and 6’9 with long-ass arms who could switch every screen. During exhibition play we saw that happen and then Australia realized they could just backdoor the US. Now? There’s massive communication issues and teams are setting the high screen and roll bringing DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan up to try and guard the three. Just look at this play here from yesterday. First, Cousins has to step up above the screen so Durant can slide under, especially against a player like Teodosic. There’s just no talking or attacking the pick and roll, trying to use their size to their advantage.

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Secondly, I have major questions about what Coach K is doing with this team. He’s obviously the best college basketball coach ever and has been wildly successful revitalizing Team USA. But, he and the rest of the coaching staff have been pretty awful the last couple of games. His subbing patterns have been atrocious and his lack of pressing has been even worse. Yesterday, DeMarcus Cousins was on a roll to start the game, active on defense and finishing in the paint. The US got up to a massive lead and he pulled Cousins just as he was in a rhythm. DeAndre Jordan came in and while he was active, picked up a technical and gave up some cheap fouls. Boogie sat on the bench even longer and got him out of a rhythm. It’s time to stop caring about feelings. Play the best players and sub out like you would a normal team and a normal game. There’s no reason to take someone out of a game who is off to a good start just because someone like Jimmy Butler or DeMar DeRozan might get a little butthurt. It’s the Olympics. We’re here to kick the worlds ass. And why aren’t you pressing? No one has the ball handlers to handle a well-designed press against the USA. In 2008 and 2012 we saw Team USA run a trapping, switching press. Why the hell aren’t we doing that now? This is the team that can switch almost anything, set up a man-to-man with the guy who is guarding the inbounder, doubling the best ball handler before the ball gets thrown in.

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That said we’re still Team USA. We’re still ridiculous favorites to win the gold and should win the gold no matter what. The worst thing that happened to this team was getting China and Venezuela in the first two games of the Olympics, so they could coast. We’ll always have the best player on the court and who in the shit is going to stop this?

Now that the important stuff is out of the way, onto today’s games and we have some gems. As always follow me @barstoolreags to let me know your thoughts, picks and just general hoops talk.

Brazil vs Argentina – 1:15 pm

Line: Argentina -2.5 (-135), Brazil +110, 159.5

Preview: Argentina has a chance to clinch a berth in the knockout stage and start setting themselves up for position to where they can avoid Team USA in the semifinals. The only way that happens though is if they finish third in the group. Sitting at 2-1, it’s hard to see them tanking this game as there’s too much that can happen as there can be a logjam of 2-2 teams. Right now the goal is to qualify for the knockout stage. The Argentines have looked good these Olympics as the blend of the golden age and young guys have come together. They choked the game away against Lithuania on Thursday night as Manu missed seven free throws. Brazil on the other hand got down to Croatia and tried making a comeback, but eventually falling just short. The matchups to watch here will be the backcourts going against each other. Both have strong scorers in Barbosa and Manu and point guards that can both attack and score. The matchup I’ll be watching though is what Argentina does to neutralize Nene on the defensive of the ball. Argentina plays Luis Scola at the center spot, who will be giving up a lot to Nene. Now, obviously reverse that and Nene trying to guard Scola on the perimeter should go as we expect. If I’m Argentina, I stick to my normal game plan of playing ‘small ball’ and let Brazil try and guard you.

Pick: I like Argentina here. They have the depth and are shooting the ball extremely well from behind the arc. This game is going to be incredibly fun as the two countries are rivals and if you saw the crowd for the Argentina/Lithuania game, it’s going to be loud. There’s more pressure on Brazil to win here as they need to get to 2-2 to avoid elimination, so they could come out tight.

Lithuania vs Spain – 6:00 pm

Line: Spain -3.5 (-160), Lithuania +110, 151.5

Preview: All Spain needs is one more win and they are back in the knockout stage. Lithuania has the chance to win the group with a win today as they are currently the only 3-0 team in Group B. The question as we’ve asked since game 1 for Spain will be what group comes out and what the hell is their gameplan. They blew the doors off against Nigeria, but let the weakest team in the group come back and play them to a two-point game for most of the game. Will they continue to start Ricky Rubio and not press with him on the court? For Lithuania, people might think this is some sort of massive upset that they are winning the group. But, remember this is the No. 3 team in the world with NBA experience and plenty of international experience. Lithuania always plays well in the Olympics. They have the right amount of size and shooting and we saw against Argentina, they have depth. Pau Gasol will have his hands full as Jonas Valancuinas is probably the best post player he’ll see in this group.

Pick: I’m taking Lithuania +3.5 in this one. Why is Spain even favored after the first three games? Lithuania can attack and as we have seen the Spaniards have had no interest in playing defense. This should leave wide open threes for the plethora of guards the Lithuanians have on their roster. Plus they have the chance to avoid Team USA and a pretty nice road to the gold medal game. They have the most to play for today and I love teams in those spots.

Nigeria vs Croatia – 9:30 pm

Line: Croatia -11.5 (-700), Nigeria +475, 160.5

Preview: Another team that can solidify their spot in the knockout round is Croatia tonight and they get to do it against the weakest team in the group. The Croats finally realized they should play their best lineup to start the game against Brazil and we saw a great start with Dario Saric and Mario Hezojna out there. Hell, they haven’t even gotten Simon going yet and they’ve beaten Spain and Brazil. The Nigerians have played two tough games against Spain and Lithuania, but this Croatian team might have the best offense out of the three. We’ve seen Nigeria start to hit threes and battle back, especially after getting down big against Spain. Ike Diogu has been one of the stars of the Olympics and will get to go up against Dario Saric tonight.

Pick: I’ve been high on this Croatian team ever since they qualified for the Olympics and that’s not stopping now. They found the lineup to get them going and Nigeria won’t be able to run a zone against this team. The ability of Saric to handle the ball and shoot will be too much as Croatia should get off to a fast start. Hopefully this is the game where Simon realizes he can shoot the hell out of the ball.

Daily Fantasy Picks

Another strong day of Daily Fantasy Picks as we’ve hit money three days in a row now. If you’re still playing, look to stack Croatia, but here are three guys I’m targeting. I usually try to get a couple big name players in each lineup, usually targeting Luis Scola and Pau Gasol.

Renaldas Seibutis $4500 – Seibutis, the Lithuanian shooting guard has been one of their most consistent players, averaging over 10 points per game so far. He’s good for 3-4 rebounds as well.

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Mindaugas Kuzminskas $4400 – Another cheap play from Lithuania, the future Knick has started to break out in these Olympics. Against Argentina, he has 23 points and five rebounds.

Dario Saric $7000 – He’s becoming too good to pass up. He’s already gotten one double-double these games and went out and got 15 and 7 against Brazil. Against Nigeria he should be a must-play.