While the U.S. men’s basketball team is 4-0 in Rio and has already locked up a spot in the quarterfinal round, they haven’t looked all that convincing in wins over Australia and Serbia. In those wins guards Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills (Australia), and Milos Teodosic (Serbia) gave the Americans fits working in ball screen situations. Sunday’s group finale brings another test for the Americans in this area, with point guard Tony Parker leading the way for France.
Since being blown out by Australia in their group opener the French have won three straight, blowing out China and Venezuela with a one-point win over Serbia in between. Parker’s a key for France, and his track record both internationally and with the San Antonio Spurs can’t be questioned. But to assume that France is a one-man outfit would be a mistake.
WATCH LIVE: United States vs. France — 1:15 p.m. Eastern
In the front court France can counter the American big men with the likes of Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) and Boris Diaw (traded from San Antonio to Utah), and wing Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Bobcats can be a handful as well. The U.S. can put points on the board with anyone, but they have to be better defensively while also improving their offensive execution.
While they scored 98 against Australia and 94 against Serbia, the ball and player movement wasn’t at the level that they need it to be even if their raw talent allows them to get away with ball-watching on the offensive end. Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George have made key shots down the stretch in the last two wins, but the U.S. can be better on this end of the floor than they’ve been. Will that change Sunday? If not, they could be in for another nail biter.