The United States finally looked mortal in their 99-94 victory over Lithuania. The Lithuanians exposed Team USA’s defense with a steady diet of pick-and-rolls that exploited their faltering communication.
Even though Lithaunia lost, the results were impressive: They shot 58.5% from the field including 63.3% on 49 2-point attempts. Their true shooting percentage was an excellent 65.6%.
LeBron James asserted that their defensive communication needs to improve. If the Lithuanians are able to put a dent in the Americans armor, how will more talented teams fare?
“We must work on our communication,” James said. “At times we did. But defensively, to read and react to certain situations, you need to talk about things that go wrong. [...] And this is what we will do. We did in the past. We can do it. We will watch the video and we will do better.”
Chris Paul added that Lithuania executed their offense well. While the Americans shot a worse percentage, they offset their disadvantage a bit by getting to the free throw line 31 times.
“They took a lot of shots,” Paul said. “They executed their attacks. They rode well on the pick and roll with Darius Songaila in the paint, but we must do a better job of communication and talk more defensively.”
Otherwise, their run at a gold medal could be cut short if the right team combines the perfect dosage of pick-and-roll prowess, perimeter shooting, defense and luck.