Aug 22, 2014; New York, NY, USA; United States guard James Harden (13) dunks against Puerto Rico during the fourth quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA VS New Zealand: Preview

Following a less-than-dominant performance against Turkey, Team USA looks to rebound today as it meets New Zealand in pool play.

Sounds a bit strange, using the word “rebound,” which implies that the US actually lost Sunday.  It’s the right word, however, since Team USA apparently headed into the game against Turkey thinking the rest of the teams in the FIBA World Cup would be intimidated by our boys’ 114-55 romp over Finland and just lie down as soon as the red, white and blue took the court.

Clearly, that didn’t happen, as Turkey headed into halftime up five, and stretched the lead to six in the third quarter, to the delight over pretty much everyone overseas.  Team USA may have eventually prevailed by 21, but that game provided a rude wake-up call that Mike Krzyzweski’s crew would be wise to remember from here on out: the rest of the world doesn’t care if all of Team USA plays in the NBA.  Gone are the days when opponents were in awe of our dream teams, asking for autographs during the game.  Today’s international teams have nearly caught up to the USA, so relying on late-game heroics isn’t a game plan Team USA ought to stick to.

Look for the team to come out swarming New Zealand just as it did against Finland, then.  New Zealand has yet to win a game, losing to both Turkey and the Dominican Republic, and having been outscored by 16 points so far in this tournament.  My pick: Team USA wins, 111-52.

Today’s game can be seen live on ESPN beginning at 11:30 a.m.  You can also stream it at ESPN3.com, or you can wait and watch it at 8 p.m. tonight on NBA TV.

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