Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tayshaun Watch: Game Four

Not Tayshaun, obviously, but the only picture from the game I can find right now.

Tayshaun had his best game of the tournament this morning. So did Team USA. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. But Tayshaun had an excellent game, entering in the second quarter and quickly hitting a three and throwing a beautiful oop to LeBron. He is one of the players really positively affected by the shorter three-point-line and shot three for four from three today (his only miss came on a long three as the shot clock expired). Coach K used him a zone buster, placing him in the middle of Spain’s 2-3 and letting him use his long arms to quickly distribute from there, which he did very well. And, as always, he played excellent defense.

As for the game, not too much to say: Team USA forced 28 turnovers, they finally started making their three-pointers and Jason Kidd even took a shot. It was their second very impressive victory in a row. LeBron and Wade were amazing again and the team is looking like it will coast through the medal round, something of which I was very skeptical of before the tournament started. The only possibility for a Team USA loss is if it faces an opponent who takes very good care of the ball and cuts way down on turnovers. I thought with Calderón and other NBA quality guards, Spain might be that team. I was very wrong, at least today. Spain had 16 turnovers in the first half and the game was over by then.

A few other points:

Rudy Fernandez is supposed to join Brandon Roy and Jarred Bayless next season as the Portland Trailblazer’s trio of dynamic combo-guards. Like most NBA fans, I think Fernandez is an excellent prospect who will contribute immediately, but he certainly didn’t play like it tonight. Terrible game.

Jose Calderón was invisible. The guy made the all-star game last year and his game seems suited to international play. What happened today?

Nobody held Team USA’s poorly played second half against Angola because everyone conceded that the game was over and USA had essentially shut itself down. Spain did the same thing today, starting the second half with its third string point guard and spending the final quarter screwing around with weird substitution patterns trying to get a better read on Team USA for a potential rematch in the medal round. That doesn’t excuse their terrible first half in the slightest, but its worth nothing that Spain did not play to win in the second half and the final score would’ve been a little closer if it had.

I thought 17-year-old point guard Ricky Rubio played pretty well. He had a few embarrassing moments (a couple of sloppy turnovers and one very ugly finish against Chris Bosh) but he made a few beautiful plays as well. I maintain my view on him: average player, excellent prospect. My fellow blogger Joe referenced the ‘Second Great Wall’ he built, shooting bricks with his quirky looking jump shot: he took four shots and scored eight points. Cut him a break. He also finished with three steals, three assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes. Anyone expecting more from the 17-year-old was kidding himself.

Next up is Germany. Doesn’t take a crystal ball for this one: Team USA wins in a blowout. In fact, while you’re letting me make completely obvious predictions, I’ll make a few more: Jason Kidd plays very poorly, Dwyane Wade has an outrageous dunk (despite just starting to lift weights and never eating vegetables) and Dirk Nowitzki makes a bunch of very sad faces. Enjoy the rout.

No comments: