2008 Olympic Basketball Day Three: Inside the Box Score

Spain/Germany: Unlike the US the Spanish have messed around with their starting 5 to so far. This was evident in their opener when Marc Gasol got the nod over his older brother and yesterday when Jose Calderon came off the bench. In this one the  Spanish were determined to not let Dirk Nowitzki beat them. To that end they threw double and triple teams at him and forced Dirk into 11 points on 5 of 15 from the field (1 of 6 from deep) and zero foul shots. Some other interesting stats from the box score:

1. The Spaniards enjoyed advantages in rebounds (41-30), steals (8-3), and turnovers (8-18).

2. Chris Kaman grabbed 1/3 of Germany's rebounds.

3. Strangely Spain was noticeably worse from the field, finishing the game at a 38% clip, while Germany connected on 45%. Both teams hit 22 field goals.

Randomly enjoy this picture, which has nothing to do with this game or these countries, as you head into the jump:


via en.ce.cn

Australia/Iran: Statistically Iran's 28 turnovers, Australia's dominance of the boards (39-25), and the Boomers 19 steals to Iran's 7, stood out the most. I have a tendency to immediately zero in on the NBA guys and was impressed to see that Andrew Bogut was tied for 4th in points scored by Australians. Patrick Mills had an efficient 15 points, including 4 3-pointers, which caught me a bit off guard. All and all this is just not Iran's tournament. Injuries to key players and the death of Aidin Nikkah-Bahrami only added to an already high degree of difficulty. Still I don't know any Iranians. None. So it's cool to watch them compete.

China/Angola: The Chinese had more turnovers and fewer steals. However, they owned the boards (37-19) and enjoyed a comfortable free throw advantage as well. All told China was 22 of 25 from the line compared to Angola's 7 of 8 mark. More importantly Yao Ming had his first, "I'm freaking Yao Ming" game of the Olympics. He was 10 of 11 from the line and the field. Of course that brings me away from the box score to Adrian Wojarnowski's article on Yao's national team commitments and the Dream Shake's rebuttal. I tend to agree more with the latter. From what I can tell Yao loves representing China. At the same time he is under a tremendous amount of pressure. Meanwhile, he did look winded against the US. Yet there's a great chance that's he's only getting into game shape just now. That's it I'm diving back into Brook Larmer's Operation Yao Ming and posting a book review next week.

Lithuania/Russia: With a final score of 86-79 it's easy to go searching for stats that tilted the game in Lithuania's favor. Of course coaches, players, and fans can go crazy doing that. But at the end of the day AK-47 would probably like another crack at the 9 free throws he missed (10 of 19 from the line).

Doug Collins put it best at the end of this one. The last time these two teams met Greece scored 101 points, shot better than 60% from the field, and did not turn the ball over that much. This time around it was an entirely different story. Forget the box score. Several aspects of the game jumped out at me:

1. Doug Collins called European teams front runners. I'm just the messenger.

2. A lot of people, myself included, have worried about Team USA's overly aggressive man-to-man defense that focuses too much on steals and leaves them open to back cuts and easy lay ups. However, the Americans played fantastic man-to-man defense in the first half. Yes they got steals. But they weren't gambling or trying to jump passing lanes in a detrimental way. That fell apart a bit in the second half, but that cold be nitpicking.

3. If you're a Dallas Mavericks fan can you really be excited about the Jason Kidd era, version 2.0? As a side note his off the backboard ally oop attempt to LeBron James was unnecessary.

4. Contrast that with Miami Heat fans who have to be excited about where Dwyane Wade's health is right now. He's an absolute freak. How he accomplished so much while only recently embarking on a serious lifting regimen is beyond me. At this point it's between Wade and Chris Bosh for "guy I underestimated the most heading into the Olympics". In closing check out Wade's lob to Kobe while you can.

The Croatians cruised through their first 2 games and then ran into the Argentinian buzz saw. When it came to scoring 4 of Argentina's NBAers - Carlos Delfino, Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, and Luis Scola - delivered, scoring 15, 14, 18, and 12 points respectively. I actually watched this one but after looking through the box score I was most impressed by the fact that Croatia was awful from the field (19 of 57 - 33%) and didn't make it easy for their teammates - 6 assists.

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