Unquestionably stacked with talent, Team USA has been together for six days.
It showed on Monday night in Las Vegas — and it wasn’t pretty.
When Australia upped its defensive pressure in the second half, and particularly down the stretch, the American’s execution fell apart. Australia looked like a team that had been together and knew what it wanted to do. Team USA looked lost.
The result was a 91-83 Team Australia win that dropped USA Basketball to 0-2 in exhibition play in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in two weeks. It’s too early to hit the panic button, but this loss is another red flag for USA Basketball. The American defense has a long way to go, in particular. You could feel some of that tension in a classic curmudgeonly Gregg Popovich moment postgame.
Popovich is also spot on — this is not 1992, and to expect blowouts of the top teams around the world is unrealistic. The rest of the world has closed the gap with America on the court. Australia is a good team with a legitimate shot at getting a medal in Tokyo (they finished fourth in Rio).