History’s flag is planted firmly on American soil in this one, as Australia has never beaten Team USA in 13 previous international matchups. This year’s Australian team is probably as good as just about any previous incarnation of the squad, despite the absence of Golden State Warrior Andrew Bogut in the middle. Without Bogut, guard Patty Mills has assumed the alpha dog role for the Australians and led his team to three consecutive wins in these Olympics. Mills has a 39-point game against Great Britain and a buzzer-beater against Russia on his London resume, so he’ll be the focus of Team USA’s defense on Wednesday.
Look for Team USA to give Mills the Tony Parker treatment—meaning a ton of ball pressure, double-teams and traps on every pick and harassment on every drive. Mills has been excellent for the Aussies, but Team USA’s primary goal will be to make his night miserable. It’s not going to be a very enjoyable evening for Mr. Mills.
Australia has a reputation as a gritty team that is unafraid to mix things up physically. After some late chippy play against Argentina, punctuated by Facundo Campazzo’s bush-league crotch-punch on Carmelo Anthony, expect Team USA to take particular issue with any cheap shots from Australia.
Overall, Australia doesn’t present much of a threat to Team USA—primarily because their main weapon in Mills will be neutralized by the ball pressure the Americans have made their calling card. Expect Team USA’s physical dominance and depth to be too much for Australia as this one gets out of hand early.