For the first time in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, Team USA faces a halftime deficit. Facing off against an injury-depleted Brazilian side, Team USA trails 46-43 in their group round game.
Kevin Durant has nearly single-handedly kept USA in the game to this point with his 19 points, scoring off a variety of off-balance circus shots and drives. Chauncey Billups and Derrick Rose have put in seven and five points respectively for a USA team too often lulled into taking quick, contested shots.
However, Team USA's biggest problem thus far has been finding the defensive antidote to Brazil's spread-the-court pick-and-roll game. Employing a system reminiscent of Mike D'Antoni's 7SOL-era Suns, Brazil has repeatedly run high pick-and-rolls with their point guard and center, while spreading the court with three shooters. Marcus Vinicius Vieira Souza has led the way from distance for Brazil, while former Sun Leandro Barbosa and Spurs big man Tiago Splitter have chipped in with eight and nine points. Even more impressively, Brazil has done this without two of their key players: Nene and Anderson Varejao, both of whom are unavailable due to injury.
Still, despite Brazil's hot shooting, Team USA only trails by one possession. A few defensive adjustments on the pick-and-roll and some better shot selection should be enough for Team USA's superior talent to shine through. Of course, as we've learned over the last decade, that's no sure thing in FIBA play....