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USA will be an Olympic enigma

THEY'VE hardly had much time training together as a unit and still are awaiting three of their main men, and now Bradley Beal has been ruled out. It's hard to know what to make of the Gold Medal-defending USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Make no mistake. Incoming Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks) promise to make a big and positive difference to USA's fortunes.

Booker had 42 points and Middleton 40 in Game 4 of their NBA Finals which now threaten to go the distance of all seven games. With the series tied 2-2, they have to go at least six to determine a champion which means their preparation for Gregg Popovich's national team will be very much minimal and further disrupted.

Since losing a warm-up exhibition to Nigeria and then succumbing yet again to Australia - yes, that WAS fun to type - the USA looked sharper taking out Argentina.

There's no doubt the Americans are finding the international game less to their liking than the privileges NBA officiating allows but the closer 3-point line should work in their favour.

A great gauge on how both the Boomers and USA were tracking ahead of Tokyo would have been the upshot of their scheduled exhibition rematch tomorrow morning in Las Vegas.

But with Washington Wizards star Beal sidelined by COVID protocols, that match has been cancelled.

The decision to cancel came only hours after Beal was ruled out of the Olympics after being placed into health and safety protocols - the USA also has Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant under health and safety protocols - and came as a result of “an abundance of caution.”

The Americans still may play Spain on Sunday before heading to Tokyo, their opening game against France on July 25.

That's not a lot of time for Popovich - who is now 1-2 against Australia as USA head coach - to get this team functioning as the Gold Medal favourite it should be.

But regardless of their early going, they should advance from Group A against France, Iran and Czech Republic.

The top two teams from each of the three groups advances, along with the two best third-placed finishers.

By the second round, you would expect the Americans to have their game sorted. And if that's the case then it would be fair to expect them to be rolling toward Gold.

Meanwhile, my attention was drawn to this post on Twitter after the 91-83 Boomers' win over USA.

Imagine saying to Brian Goorjian when he arrived in Australia that in 40(-plus) years' time, you will coach Australia to its historic first-ever Olympic Games medal.

THAT WAY: Bradley, the medical room is down the hall. Hurry.

Jul 16

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.