Following Team USA’s three-point win over Serbia, Paul George provided some insight into why the United States was struggling:
"We just have to start getting some movement. We're relying on our natural talent so much. It's so easy to guard us. Teams are just loading up and watching us play one-on-one."
Using George’s comments as a springboard, here’s a look into how the USA’s repeated attempts at throwing on the cape are making the Americans look far more like a group of Clark Kents entering Wednesday’s quarterfinal against Argentina.
Lots of one-on-one
Of the 12 teams participating in Rio, only Croatia is playing more isolation basketball than the United States. Just under 10 percent of the USA’s plays have ended in isolation. While that may not seem high, it’s a rate that would have ranked second in the NBA last season behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
Who is playing the most one-on-one? Perhaps to nobody’s surprise, it’s Carmelo Anthony. He’s taken 15 shots in iso situations, three times as many as any other USA player. After Anthony, the next-most attempts in isolation for the United States have been by Kevin Durant (five attempts), Kyrie Irving (five), Jimmy Butler (three) and Paul George (three).
Hero ball’s not working
Unfortunately for the United States, the one-on-one hasn’t been working. In isolation, Team USA is shooting just 36 percent from the floor. It’s shooting 51 percent in all other situations.
Anthony is going one-on-one more than any other player. However, it’s Anthony who stands out as being the one effective isolation player for the United States in these Olympics. Entering Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Anthony is 8-of-15 in isolation situations and has not turned it over. All other USA players have combined for as many turnovers as made shots (five each) in isolation.
More isolation late in games
How many times have you seen it in the NBA, down the stretch of a close game, it turns into a one-on-one affair.
With a roster full of NBA players, perhaps it’s no surprise that Team USA is showing similar tendencies, especially during the last three games, all decided by 10 or fewer.
Against Australia, Serbia and France, the United States is playing twice as much isolation hoops in the second half as it is in the first half.
Over the first three quarters of those games, 9 percent of the United States' plays have ended in isolation. That number jumps to 14 percent when looking at just the fourth quarter.
Yet they still win
Regardless of their struggles, Team USA is still winning. They’ve won 73 straight games overall, two shy of the longest winning streak in national team history. They’re 8-0 against Argentina, whom they’ll face at 5:45 p.m. ET Wednesday, since losing to them in the 2004 Olympics. Team USA beat Argentina by 37 points in an exhibition on July 22.