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U.S.A.-Australia: The medal round begins

Fourth-Place Medal

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The U.S.A. Basketball team has done exactly what it was supposed to do over the last week of play. They've blown teams out teams out using a combination of pressure defense and speed that has crushed opponents' will ... usually by the beginning of the second half. If LeBron James and company continue to play the same way, there is not a team in the world that can beat them, but if they slip up just once from here on out, the tournament ends for them.

They will be viewed as failures.

That's why today's game against Australia is the first real test for this team. In order to defeat the Aussies, here is a list of four things Team U.S.A. must do:

Use exhibition game as motivation: The Americans played the Aussies in an exhibition in Shanghai just a few short weeks ago. The U.S. squad knocked off Australia, but only by 11 points, prompting an angry Coach K to rip his team afterwards. You'd have to think that Krzyzewski will bring that game up as motivational fuel before today's re-match.

Contain Andrew Bogut: This most impressive part about the Aussies' performance in Shanghai was that they did it all without Bogut in the middle. The star center sat out of the game because of an ankle injury. He has recovered nicely in Beijing though, leading his team with over 14 points a game. It will be Dwight Howard's job to clear out the paint for the Americans, and out-muscle Bogut in the paint.

Use point guard depth to pressure Patrick Mills: The U.S. squad's deepest position is point guard, which is a good thing because the team will need to put constant pressure on Australia's star guard Patty Mills. Coach K would be wise to rotate Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Deron Williams in continuously throughout the game so that they won't get tired of chasing the St. Mary's product around. If the Americans can stop Mills, it will be hard for the Aussies to get much going offensively.

Keep on keepin' on D-Wade: Without question, the most dominant player on the U.S. roster over the last week has been Dwyane Wade. He has been a force on both ends of the court, leading the team with just over 16 points a game. If Wade can play the same way he's been playing the coaching staff will continue to have a game-changer that they can bring off the bench, in case things don't start out well.

Photo via Getty Images

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