Time: 6:00 pm EDT
In the first game of the Olympic tournament for the gold medal favorites, the United States takes on China. The U.S. brings a fresh-faced squad to Rio, with newcomers Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green joining returning Olympians Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. China is led by former NBA player Yi Jianlian and Zhou Qi, a second round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
The two squared off in an exhibition leading up to the Games with the U.S. dominating by a final score of 107-57. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony were the high scorers in the exhibition, scoring 21 and 20 points respectively. The U.S. depth just proved too much for China to handle as every player on the team scored.
The most athletic team in the tournament, Team USA will utilize their positional flexibility to their advantage. The U.S. possesses a litany of athletic wings who are capable of playing multiple positions. In the international game, players like Jimmy Butler and DeMar DeRozan who normally play shooting guard in the NBA can capably play small forward. Similarly, guys like Durant, Anthony and Paul George, who more often play small forward, should see ample time at power forward.
With super athletes at every position, the United States has an unparalleled ability to push the rock in transition. In their exhibition match against China, the U.S. scored 34 fast break points to China’s 13.
China will have a hard enough time stopping the U.S. in transition, but may even be at more of a disadvantage when it comes to the U.S. bigs. DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan are among the largest guys in the tournament and should be able to overpower any of China’s front court players. China’s frontline is among the tallest in the tournament – they have four players that stand 7-foot or taller – but they lack the girth to matchup with the U.S. Qi, the tallest member of China’s team, stands a towering 7-foot-2 and weighs 218 lbs, but pales in comparison to Cousins’ 6-foot-11, 270 lbs frame.
The U.S. will win this one in a runaway.