Preview: USA enters the easy week of the schedule vs. Tunisia

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Anthony Davis is the Team USA human victory cigar. When you see him getting serious minutes, the game is in hand.

Expect to see a whole lot of Davis this week.

After a nice win over France to open the Olympics, Team USA enters the softer part of their schedule this week, starting with Tunisia on Tuesday. That is followed by Nigeria on Thursday then a decent Lithuania team on Saturday. (Things get more serious next week when it is Argentina to close out group play then the one-and-done medal tournament portion of the Games begins.)

Tunisia is the weakest team in the Olympic field. Give them some credit for making a push in the fourth quarter against Nigeria to make a game of their opener (they lost 60-56). Thing is, Nigeria is arguably the second worst team in the entire Olympics. As pointed out at The Painted Area blog, if Nigeria had this full roster (with Ike Diagu and Al-Farouq Aminu) at the AfroBasket qualifying tournament last summer Tunisia might not be at the games at all.

As for guys to watch, Tunisia has 7’1” center Salah Mejri who played for Utah in the just completed Orlando Summer League. He is a defensive specialist. And that’s as close as anybody on this roster has gotten to the NBA. As for guys to look for, we’re with Trey Kerby in wanting to see Jack Rebel Slims get in the game.

For Team USA, Tuesday is a chance to work on any sets or schemes you think need some polish. Want to practice playing some zone defense? Do it here. Ever wonder what a Deron Williams/Carmelo Anthony pick-and-roll looks like? Try it out now. Work out the kinks. Because once Team USA cranks up the defensive pressure this one will get ugly fast.

Just stay focused on the big picture and have some fun.

And get Anthony Davis some real run.

Report: Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo staying in NBA draft

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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When De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk declared for the NBA draft, they jumped in with both feet, hiring agents.

A third Kentucky freshman, Bam Adebayo, took a more cautious approach – until now.

Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports:

Adebayo is a borderline first-round pick.

He’s a ferocious dunker. All his best skills – motor, explosiveness, physicality – come together to produce slams.

But Adebayo is an underwhelming shot-blocker and rebounder, and those same tools should translate. That speaks’ to his focus.

He has a center’s game. But at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-1.5 wingspan, does he have a center’s size? Adebayo can’t step away from the basket or handle the ball, so if he can’t bang with NBA centers, he’s in trouble.

NBA: James Harden should have been called for offensive foul late in Rockets’ Game 4 win over Thunder

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The Rockets were trying to protect a two-point lead as they inbounded with 7.8 seconds left in Game 4 against the Thunder on Sunday, and James Harden wanted the ball. So, the Houston star pushed off Alex Abrines.

The play still turned chaotic – Russell Westbrook tipping the inbound pass and Eric Gordon recovering the loose ball – but it never should have gotten that far. Harden should have been called for an offensive foul, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Harden (HOU) pushes off Abrines (OKC) to create space during the inbound.

A correct call would have given Oklahoma City the ball down two with 7.8 seconds left and a real chance to tie or take the lead.

Instead, the Thunder had to intentionally foul Gordon, who hit two free throws to effectively ice a 113-109 Rockets win. Houston now leads the first-round series, 3-1.

NBA: LeBron James got away with travelling before go-ahead 3-pointer in Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over Pacers

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The Cavaliers outscored the Pacers by just 16 points in their first-round series – tied for the narrowest margin ever in a four-game sweep. (The Warriors also outscored the Washington Bullets while sweeping the 1975 Finals.)

So, each Cleveland-Indiana game was close, including Sunday’s Game 4, which the Cavs won 106-102.

LeBron James hit a 3-pointer with 1:08 left to put the Cavaliers up 103-102, and they added a few free throws after intentional fouls to produce the final margin. But LeBron travelled with 1:14 left while making his move to get that 3-pointer, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

James (CLE) moves his pivot foot at the start of his dribble.

A correct call would’ve ended Cleveland’s possession and given Indiana the ball with a two-point lead. Instead, the Pacers had only one possession before they had to begin intentionally fouling.

Would Indiana have won if the travel were called? Probably, though the odds would have been only slightly better than a coin flip.

Would the Pacers have won the series if the travel were called? Probably not. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit, and even a Game 4 win was far from guaranteed with a travel call. But they might have at least felt better about not getting swept.

Raptors’ Norman Powell had a couple monster dunks Monday (VIDEO)

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“Give all praise to Norman Powell with his energy, his athleticism, his passion, just everything he brought to us this series.”

That was Kyle Lowry talking about what his Raptor Norman Powell, who put up a career playoff best 25 points in the Raptors’ Game 5 win. Powell played good defense on Khris Middleton and drained some deep threes to help Toronto pull away in this one. Lowry was so impressed after the game at a press conference he told the media to ask Powell questions, not him.

Oh, and Powell threw down some huge dunks, too. Just check out the video.