Unbeatable? Maybe, maybe not.
When Team USA is knocking down 3-point shots the way they did against Nigeria and Argentina, then yeah, they’re probably unbeatable. When they go cold from outside the arc, as they did against Lithuania, it is more than fair to say they are vulnerable.
They are vertically challenged, and they do not protect the rim — even when Tyson Chandler is getting his dollup of minutes and accumulating more fouls than points. LeBron James has been playing center at times, as have Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala and Carmelo Anthony.
You can get away with that against some opponents, but against others it is going to make for an interesting contrast of styles. Take Brazil, for instance, which I have been saying is the No. 1 threat to knock off the Americans because of their three NBA bigs — Anderson Varejao, Nene and Tiago Splitter — and the cleverness of their coach, Ruben Magnano.
Brazil has to get past Argentina, which is favored by 2 points, to reach a semifinal match against the U.S. team. If the Americans can get through that one unscathed, they should have an easier time in the gold medal game against Spain, France, or Russia.
Let’s face it: The Americans proved against Lithuania (in the final part of the fourth quarter) and Argentina (in the first part of the third quarter) that they can steamroll anyone in the space of less than 4 minutes. When LeBron James gets that look in his eye, watch out.
But we also learned against Argentina that there will be questionable calls that go against the Americans, and the quality of the refereeing can go a long way toward determining the dynamics of any particular game.
So of we go into the medal round, and I’d say the gold medal for Team USA is a 90 percent probability.