Brazil A Test For The U.S. On Monday

WASHINGTON, D.C. – From every angle, Spain, featuring a frontline of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, is the biggest threat to the U.S. Men’s Senior National team in its quest to win a second straight Olympic gold medal.

Argentina, with its generation of international stars playing one last tournament together, is a dangerous threat. France has as much NBA talent as any team outside of the U.S. And Lithuania and Russia are two more tough teams who won’t be eliminated easily.

But the team that gave the United States their toughest game at the 2010 World Championship was Brazil, who the U.S. will play Monday in an exhibition game at the Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2). It’s the U.S. Team’s final action on American soil before they travel to Manchester and Barcelona for three more exhibitions, and then to London for the Olympics.

The U.S. Women will also play Brazil as part of a double-header. The women’s game precedes the men on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The Brazilian men finished ninth in Turkey, but they gave the U.S. a real scare in preliminary round action before falling 70-68 in a game that was inches away from going to overtime. It was also a game that was played without two of Brazil’s best players, Nene (not on the roster) and Anderson Varejao (injured).

Five players on this year’s U.S. Team were there in Istanbul and remember that game pretty vividly. The other seven got a taste of it when the team watched film Sunday morning before practice.

In addition to those Nene and Varejao, Brazil also has NBA’ers Leandro Barbosa and Tiago Splitter on its 2012 roster. But their most dangerous player is point guard Marcelo Huertas, who ran circles around the U.S. defense in the first half of that 2010 game, running pick-and-rolls with Splitter and finding Barbosa and Marcus Vieira on the perimeter for open threes.

“Huertas really controlled the game,” U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski said Sunday. “He played a magnificent game. You look and you say, ‘Well, I can bother him,’ and he was never bothered by our pressure.”

And when one screen didn’t work, Brazil came back with another.

“They screened and re-screened and re-screened and re-screened to get what they wanted,” Andre Iguodala said. “And we didn’t do a good job of adjusting. And we just barely got out of that game.”

So Monday’s game will be a great test for the U.S. Team’s pick-and-roll defense, which will certainly be critical in London. Expect them to defend the pick-and-roll aggressively, trying to take the ball out of Huertas’ hands, a scheme that worked in the second half of that game in Turkey.

“Against the best teams, we’re going to see a lot of pick-and-rolls,” Kevin Love said. “If we suck in on the pick-and-roll with the big guy, they’re going kick it out and knock down shots. I think that was the biggest thing for us. We just need to get up and contest, be able to switch at multiple positions. I think if we do that, we’re going to be good.”

The game will also be a test of the U.S. Team’s ability to rebound with a smaller roster than they had in Istanbul.

“That’s one of the things we’re concerned about,” Krzyzewski said. “We have to have gang rebounding and make sure that we hold our own on the boards and use our quickness to get to loose balls.”

The U.S. Team’s issues weren’t limited to the defensive end of the floor in that Brazil game two years ago. In fact, after switching up their pick-and-roll coverage, they held the Brazilians to just 22 points in the second half. But the U.S. offense was nearly as poor, lacking ball movement and player movement.

“I don’t think we played too well,” Iguodala said, “but you’ve got to give them credit for putting us in those situations.”

Against opponents who play zone and pack the paint, stagnant offense is always going to be a concern for the U.S. They’ll look to use their pressure defense to get easy baskets in transition, but half-court execution is needed as well. And a defense anchored by Varejao is certainly a good measuring stick of where the U.S. stands on that end of the floor.

“They’ve got a chance to compete for medals in London,” Krzyzewski said, “so we know the game [Monday] night will be great preparation.”

29 Comments

  1. DurantistheBestNBAPlayer says:

    Durant seems to be the most consistent so far. I wish he would have the ball more and shoot.

  2. Paul says:

    “Kobe Bryant and Team USA took control late in the second quarter and held off Brazil for the win.”

    Kobe Bryant and Team USA? Really, Kobe was the leader of the team?

  3. sercan says:

    KOBE wonderfull defense ! Big leader KOBE

  4. John says:

    Calling this team a dream team is a joke.Maybe because they are dreaming they are a dream team.They would stuggle to beat with those guys today in their fifties.Must less then.Shouldn’t lebron and his guys beat brazil by forty.Espn will tell you if you listen.He is the greatest player ever.Maybe we could send the heats playoff mvps [the refs] in to bring home the gold.

  5. caza says:

    I think france have a chance of kncoking of usa and maybe australia becasue of the raw talent lithuania is the x factor because we have never seen jonas valancauis a star and their captain from fc barcelona

  6. Mark says:

    Vamo brasil !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Mark says:

    Ei bIlly vai toma no cú

  8. Billy says:

    Vamo brasil

  9. medina91 says:

    Spain missed Rubio, but have Sergio Rodriguez and Jose Calderon (PG). in Shooting Guards have Sergio Llull (pick 34 in 2009 Rockets), Rudy Fernandez (not already player from Denver) and Juan Carlos Navarro (former player Memphis Grizzlies), Forwards Victor Claver (new Blazer) and Serge Ibaka. Centers: Marc and Pau Gasol. Other players: Victor Sada (PG) (FC Barcelona), Fernando San Emeterio (SF) (Caja Laboral) and Felipe Reyes (PF) (Real Madrid)

  10. medina91 says:

    Spain missed Rubio, but have Sergio Rodriguez and Jose Calderon (PG). in Shooting Guards have Sergio Llull (pick 34 in 2009 Rockets), Rudy Fernandez (not already player from Denver) and Juan Carlos Navarro (former player Memphis Grizzlies), Forwards Victor Claver (new Blazer) and Serge Ibaka. Centers: Marc and Pau Gasol. Other players: Victor Sada (PG) (FC Barcelona), Fernando San Emeterio (SF) (Caja Laboral) and Felipe Reyes (PF) (Real Madrid CF)

  11. Palmsy says:

    LMAO at this team being compared to the Dream Team, theyre struggling to beat Brazil, how in the hell would they ever have a chance against the Dream Team.

  12. Eric says:

    The US team looks far stronger, roster wise, than any other. Durant, Kobe, and Lebron on one side? Jeezus…

  13. Gustavo says:

    Brazil surely has the best team in the country’s history. That World Champion team faced some HS players, it wasn’t even the college players I guess. I’m not saying that team was bad at all… it was the most winner team in Brazilian history, but the current team is way much better than that one…

  14. lmfaooooooooooooooooo, so u really telling me the players mention above are better then what our USA roaster got? Get a life guys, USA team will DESTROY Brazil,spain,russia,argentina, or any other teams Just watch USA 2012 Olympic Goldsta!
    Gaaaaah!

    • peter says:

      It’s attitudes like this that sometimes makes me hope they do lose…

      How many international teams has the USA team either lost to (or nearly lost to) over the last 8 years? There are a few…to have the arrogance of believe the team is unbeatable and that no other team has a chance is exactly the type of arrogance that will cause the team to lose games.

      Never underestimate your opponent…Boston Celtics tought a lot of teams that lesson this season.

  15. baller says:

    This team is better then the dream team cause of Durant, Lebron, and kobe. Mostly Durant

    • peter says:

      As opposed to Bird, Magic and Jordan?

    • peter says:

      One question…

      How is Tyson Chandler going to handle Patrick Ewing and David Robinson, two of the greatest centers to ever play the game? How is Kevin Love (who can’t play D to save his life) going to handle Karl Malone and Charles Barkley?

      This years team would get belted inside, and would have no hope of dealing with the original teams size and strength inside.

  16. The problem is the Love´s game.

  17. Renzo says:

    Brazil is playing almost without pick and rolls recently. That could be a good change for them, because potential is there.

  18. mingorria says:

    Not doubt Magnano will improve Brazil performance. US team need to be concetrated if they do not want another 2004 Olympics.

  19. Paulo says:

    Brazil has the best national team of Brazil’s history, but also does all the other countries. I think today will be a good test for Brazil, but the article forgot to say that the US Team had in their last match only Kevin Durant as a starter, they didn’t have LeBron, Kobe, CP3 and neither Carmelo. The US has a much stronger team. And talking about Ruben Magnano, yes, he’s a greta coach, they should have talked about him in the article as he is the most important key in this team.

    • Vitor says:

      man, you should do some research. best team in Brazil’s history? Check the teams Brazil had in the 50s and 60s

  20. Mike says:

    The funniest thing about those posts about Brazil is that they always forget the coach Ruben Magnano, wich is an Olympic Gold Medalist with Argentina in 2004… They forget too the fact that he had beaten USA 2 times, in Indianapolis 2002 and Athens 2004… That man is probably one of the best coaches in the World… He can run a defense as i guess no one does….

  21. Giovanni says:

    Brasil tá com mais moral ai fora do que aqui… Mas vai um ótimo jogo!

  22. Leo says:

    Playing against the U.S. is a suicide mission for the other countries :p

  23. Travis says:

    Brazil vs. U.S this game should be good. I think Lithuania will be tough match up as well. From what I’ve seen Russia doesn’t stand a chance against the U.S.