It's a theme that we're probably going to have to get used to. Team USA, 2012: "It Just Doesn't Matter."
Slow, uneasy and too cautious start? It just doesn't matter.
Uncertain game plan, in the face of unknown opponents? It just doesn't matter.
Too many 3-pointers? It just doesn't matter.
Deron Williams playing defense without a shoe? It just doesn't matter.
All dunks, and 3-pointers? An overreliance on garnering easy scores off of turnovers and in transition? A half-court offense that just isn't there, yet? Your only true center heading to the bench with a bag of ice on a bum left hand he just smacked on the rim? A head coach that might be outclassed while coaching pros?
Say it, kids: It just doesn't matter.
We understand that this sounds exactly like the sort of fawning, one-line paragraph newspaper column that used to run alongside Team USA wins in 1992 and 1996, but even though this year's model still has its issues from time to time, it really is going to take quite a bit — a really great day for some team, and a really poor one from Team USA — to wrest out a loss from this crew. This team isn't invincible and we wouldn't be surprised if other squads pulled out a win or even two against Team USA, but a whole heck of a lot would have to fall in line.
And a lot fell in line for Tunisia in this contest, and they were still almost downed by 50.
Carmelo Anthony, continuing a sound international run, tied Kevin Love for the team lead in points on Tuesday with 16. Anthony Davis, who just started receiving NBA paychecks a week ago, was unstoppable near the rim and finished with five dunks. Team USA continually found the open — usually taller, stronger, and more talented — man on its way toward 28 assists on 48 field goals. Yes, this was a two-possession game deep into the second quarter, but Team USA always looked as if it was one run away from turning this into a 20-possession game.
Turns out that run, and a presumably contentious locker room at halftime, took place in a 39-14 third quarter for Team USA. Or, perhaps, the 25-16 fourth quarter. Your call, as the flash and wave and all-world brilliance took over and the squad pulled away. A steal there, a scoop here, a win in the end.
Again, this is Tunisia. A lightweight that happened to be in the way, as Team USA rolled to a 2-0 tourney record even after a day off of practice. Even if that cohesion never reveals itself, at least in the half court offensively, Team USA can remind us of the NBA champion Miami Heat at their worst, and best. How the talent is good enough, on paper, to dominate without having to turn things into an endless five-man weave or something that reminds of the pass-pass-pass-cut-cut-cut champion Knicks of the 1970s or Bulls of the 1990s.
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Drive and kick can kill, too. Especially when those "too many 3-pointers" end up giving your team 120 points per 100 possessions, as it did for Team USA on Tuesday.
Especially when, like those Heat, Team USA appears to have a mindful LeBron James to rely on when things get close and uncomfortable. If things get uncomfortable.
Perhaps not this week. Nigeria awaits on Thursday, Lithuania on Saturday. The latter will provide a challenge at times, but not a big enough one on paper for us to be predicting any sort of fourth-quarter scariness for Team USA. Naw, that's a first-quarter trait for these men.
Pile up those dodgy initial runs, Team USA. Until you convince us that they can't be overcome, no matter the opponent, we remain convinced that it just doesn't matter.
(Though we still like watching the games, guys. You're pretty good at basketball.)
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