Olympics

Team USA: Is it time to panic after consecutive exhibition losses in Las Vegas?

For the second time in three days, Team USA has been defeated in the pre-Olympic exhibition tournament in Las Vegas.

The 91-83 loss to Australia - their second exhibition defeat to the Boomers - comes just around 48 hours after they were upset by Nigeria, 90-87.

Since NBA players began representing the national team, one loss was a blip on the radar, but two, not to mention being back-to-back, is historic, even if it's warm-up games.

Having said that, with Team USA opening its warm-up games in Las Vegas with an 0-2 record, it's important not to overreact to the results. Here's why.

Four day practice

Prior to these tune-up games, Team USA literally had just four days of practice from Jul. 6 to Jul. 9 before playing Nigeria on the 10th.

Given the challenges, not just in the opponents - who are improving with each day - but also in the different FIBA style of officiating and rules, four days isn't much. Under their schedule on the USA Basketball website, dates for their training camp are listed from Jul. 6 to Jul. 18.

So, it's fair to say that Team USA could be using these games as part of their training camp instead of how these warm-ups are traditionally conducted - at the end of the training camp.

Roster

Considering the number of NBA players on their roster, some other countries like Australia or Canada could have also been affected by their practice or lack thereof.

Even if they were facing the same issue as Team USA, internationally more often than not, it's only the top tier stars who opt out of playing for their national teams, and that too is quite rare. So, despite the short training camps, these national teams are welcoming back players who have long been part of the national team program and have suited up for the squad in previous Olympics.

The same can't be said for Team USA.

Of the 12-man roster announced for the Tokyo Olympics, three aren't even with the team currently as the trio of Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks) are locking horns in the 2021 NBA Finals.

TAKEAWAYS: Patty Mills leads Boomers past Team USA

Of the remaining nine, Kevin Durant is the most experienced, but he is one of only three players to have previous Olympic experience, the others being Draymond Green (2016) and Kevin Love (2012).

All of the remaining six players - Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, Bam Adebayo, Jerami Grant and Zach LaVine - are either playing their first Olympics (Tatum) or are suiting up for Team USA in a major international tournament for the first time (Lillard, LaVine, Adebayo, Grant, Beal).

Adapting to the international style of play and the officiating is no easy feat. Despite the talent disparity that everyone will point to, there is a massive gulf when it comes to international experience.

Physical load

Six (Lillard, Durant, Booker, LaVine, Tatum, Beal) of the 12 players for Team USA were selected to the 2021 NBA All-Star teams, an indication of their load during the 2020-21 NBA season, which for most was coming off a very short offseason.

Very few international teams can match Team USA on talent and even if they could, the reality is that few of them carry the load and pressure of an entire NBA franchise like the players on Team USA do, especially over this past season.

A short practice combined with the inexperience on the roster and coming off a grueling NBA season, these games in Las Vegas certainly do not represent the true potential and performance of Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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