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TOM KNOTT: Redemption still has a shot at failure
Here are the two percentages that should give U.S. supporters pause: 36.2 percent from beyond the 3-point line and 67 percent at the foul line.
One of the most fundamental differences between international tournaments and the NBA playoffs is so obvious that it is rarely discussed. It is the single-elimination dimension of international tournaments following pool play. The U.S. possibly never would have surrendered the gold medal in the last three international competitions if these affairs featured best-of-seven formats.
You think Greece would have defeated the U.S. four times in 2006? Please. No wonder coach Mike Krzyzewski referred to the Greece players by their jersey numbers instead of their names. But in the Olympics and world championships, one subpar performance in the medal round ends the gold-medal quest.
That thought can unsettle even the most mentally resilient in the waning minutes of a seesaw affair.
This U.S. team has repaired much of the damage from the last two world championships and in Athens.
Yet its work remains incomplete. Nothing but a gold medal will be acceptable, especially with the way the U.S. buried Angola, China, Greece, Spain and Germany in pool play and with a number of opponents saying the competition is now about who gets the silver medal.
That is the burden on the U.S. going into its meeting with Australia today.
About the Author
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
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