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USA vs CAN preview: 3 things Team USA could do to win exhibition game against Canada

USA vs CAN preview: 3 things Team USA could do to win exhibition game against Canada

The USA Men’s National Basketball will face arguably their biggest threat in the Olympics in Team Canada on July 10 in Las Vegas. This Canadian team features a multitude of NBA talents, just like Team USA. Led by 2024 NBA MVP finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 2023 NBA Champion Jamal Murray, Team Canada is poised to give Team USA all the headaches and possible roadblocks in its pursuit of gold. 

With all things considered, here’s what Team USA could do to stamp their dominance against their neighboring rivals up North and send a message to the rest of the world eager to challenge their throne.

Dump the ball to Joel Embiid and let him go to work

Perhaps the most dominant basketball player in the world right now, there’s probably nobody who could guard Joel Embiid one-on-one today on God’s green earth. A 7-foot-2 big man blessed with skill, size, finesse, and power, Embiid’s complete game will be a main problem for Team Canada. Among the frontliners they could throw at Embiid are Dwight Powell, Kelly Olynyk, and Trey Lyles but none of them - on paper and quick eye test - are quick or strong enough to deter Embiid and his dominance. Embiid dominated some of the league’s best defensive players, putting up 50 points on 4-time DPOY Rudy Gobert and scoring 70 points in phenom Victor Wembanyama’s head last season.

Team USA should quickly take advantage of this opportunity and run the offense through Embiid and make Team Canada send double teams at him. That’s when advantages and opportunities will open up to the rest of the guys like LeBron cutting to the rim or Durant and Curry spotting up for wide-open threes. It could be a pick-your-poison type of game where Team Canada could let Embiid play one-on-one and destroy them inside the paint or double him and risk putting two on the ball creating opportunities for the rest of Team USA.

Get into lots of screening actions to create advantages and confuse the defense

Team Canada’s biggest strength will be their on-ball perimeter defense. Among Dillon Brooks, Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, they will have long wings that could disrupt passing lanes and wreak havoc on the perimeter, creating easy baskets in transition. Canada’s a relatively young team with most players in their athletic prime so they would definitely take advantage of their biggest strength and make it their main style of play.

To counter this, Team USA could involve their players in more screening actions to create advantages on offense and confuse Canada’s defense. They should also incorporate slips and slides in those screens and in the pick and rolls for cutters and shooters to get open shots. By doing this, Team USA will negate Canada’s biggest strength and create easy and quality looks against their vaunted perimeter defense.

Play defense

It’s no secret that Team USA’s core players are aging and nearing the end of their athletic peaks. Although being the superstar basketball players that they are and still being at the top of their offensive games, Team USA’s defense will be suspect here and would probably be the main attacking point of their opponents. Jrue Holiday, Anthony Edwards, and Derrick White will have their work cut out for them in the perimeter right from the get-go as Team USA could be punished by a guard-heavy offensive team like Team Canada. 

Team USA might outscore everyone, but you can make them work on the other side of the floor, and this could be Canada’s main mindset coming into the game. Despite the top-end talent and superstar-level shot-making on offense, Team USA should put more effort on the defensive end of the floor if they want to win this game.

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