USA vs. New Zealand: TV Info, Live Stream and Preview for FIBA World Cup 2014

Team USA had a bit of a rude awakening on Sunday, getting all it could handle against a dogged Turkey squad before pulling away in the second half and winning, 98-77. It will be interesting to see how the USA responds after what was a less-than-optimal performance.      

The final score doesn’t properly illustrate how close this game was for the majority of the evening. At halftime, Turkey led by five points, 40-35. After the third quarter, Team USA held a narrow six-point lead, 66-60. But then in the fourth quarter, the United States exploded, out-scoring Turkey 32-17 and pulling away for good.

As college basketball expert Seth Davis posited, the gulf between the United States and the rest of the world isn’t nearly as great when some of the best American players are sitting at home:

New Zealand awaits on Tuesday. The Tall Blacks dropped their opener against Turkey by three points and followed that up with a 13-point defeat to the Dominican Republic. The first loss really stung as New Zealand threw away a potential win in the fourth quarter.

“We outplayed them, out-rebounded them, but the fact we didn’t finish the game is going to stick with us for a long time after the tournament,” said head coach Nenad Vucinic, per Brenton Vannisselroy of The New Zealand Herald. “We will try to erase it right now.”

The Tall Blacks are the only team in Group C without a win through the first two rounds of games, so they’re teetering on the brink. With its back against a wall, New Zealand could be very dangerous.

 

When: Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 11:30 a.m. ET

Where: Bizkaia Arena, Bilbao, Spain

TV Info: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

 

Preview and Prediction

Team USA’s early sluggishness against Turkey isn’t all that uncommon for a team that’s on paper head and shoulders better than most of the competition.

Every great team in the past has had that moment when its vulnerability was laid bare. Either that great team responds and rebounds, or it is exposed as overrated.

The close call against Turkey should ensure that the USA doesn’t take New Zealand lightly, which is terrible news for the Tall Blacks.

The biggest problem for New Zealand is the lack of an established scorer. Corey Webster scored 22 against Turkey but followed up that performance with seven points on 3-of-11 shooting against the Dominican Republic. Webster’s one of those guys who runs hot or cold, as NZHoops.co.nz pointed out:

Webster is a product of the system around him, as New Zealand can often be extremely inefficient on the offensive end. In its two games at the World Cup, the team has shot a combined 16-of-59 from three-point range. Webster and Kirk Penney are the two biggest culprits, together shooting 7-of-30 from downtown.

Team USA’s occasional defensive issues may not even come in to play given how often New Zealand shoots itself in the foot with poor offensive possessions. If the Tall Blacks continue to be reliant on the three-pointer, they’ll play right into the hands of the USA, who are lethal in transition.

The United States is much worse when the pace of the game is slower and it must utilize a half-court offense. The Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney felt that the Turkey game illustrated this problem:

Missed three-pointers tend to lead to long rebounds. Grabbing those long rebounds would allow Team USA to speed up the pace of the game and catch New Zealand off-guard on the fast break.

What should also terrify the Tall Blacks is Anthony Davis. He’s averaging 18 points and five rebounds through the United States’ first two World Cup games. Few players have looked more impressive for Team USA during the World Cup and early exhibitions.

His teammates only need to throw the ball within a 10-foot radius of the basket, and he can rise up to throw down the alley-oop. NBA on ESPN shared a picture of “The Brow” in full flight:

Davis is such a hard player to defend because he’s so big yet so athletic. Rarely do you see somebody approaching seven feet tall running the floor like Davis does. Team USA will look to exploit this matchup advantage early and often.

Then the more New Zealand cheats in to stop Davis and Kenneth Faried inside, the more space it will leave for outside shooters like James Harden, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Simply put, USA has better players across the board, and following Sunday’s hard-fought win against Turkey, the team shouldn’t take anything for granted. The United States will cruise against New Zealand.

Final Score: United States 95, New Zealand 72

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FIBA World Cup match preview: United States vs. Finland

Team USA begins their quest for the FIBA World Cup.

      
 

 

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FIBA World Cup 2014 Schedule: TV Info and Preview for USA’s Group-Stage Matchups

The United States national basketball team has high expectations for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, but they will have to prove themselves on the court.

After winning the 2010 tournament and dominating the past couple of summer Olympics, it is clear Team USA is the most talented squad in the field. However, injuries and declined invitations have forced the squad to play without many of the best players the nation has to offer.

While there is still plenty of skill on the roster between Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry and others, head coach Mike Krzyzewski will have a tougher job than in past tournaments.

The better opponents will come in the knockout stage, but the American must first make it through these group-stage battles in Bilbao, Spain.

 

Finland

When: August 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN, ESPN3

 

One of the big questions with this team is which player will start at point guard. Both Irving and Rose have showcased plenty of ability in the exhibitions and are capable of running the offense to perfection.

Krzyzewski explained before the latest game against Slovenia, “We’ll see as [the] thing goes on. We might alternate ‘em. Both of them are going to play significant minutes,” via ESPN’s Marc Stein.

While it is fine putting every player on the court in the exhibition games, the start of the tournament will be a chance for the coaching staff to shorten the bench and give increased minutes to the players who are really expecting to make an impact. Even though both Rose and Irving will play, one of them should clearly get the majority of playing time.

Finland has a quality backcourt with solid defensive players, which should make this first game a good test for both of these star players.

 

Turkey

Date: August 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN, ESPN3

 

Although Turkey does not have many familiar names on the roster, this is one of the best teams in the tournament and could be the United States’ toughest test in the group stage.

Turkey went all the way to the finals of the 2010 World Cup before losing to USA, and Omer Asik leads a strong frontcourt that can challenge the younger Americans. The good news is Anthony Davis is looking as good as ever, coming through with a strong all-around performance against Slovenia:

Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders also noted how well Davis played on the defensive end:

With Davis getting help from Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins and others, the United States squad should be able to muscle their way to a victory.

 

New Zealand

Date: September 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET

Watch: ESPN2, ESPN3

 

New Zealand does not represent a huge challenge in this tournament, but there are a few players from the college ranks capable of creating some surprises. 

With the young lineup, the biggest thing the United States has to worry about is endurance. Many of the American players have a lot of mileage on their legs already in their career and might struggle to keep up in a fast-paced game.

As a result, this might be a good opportunity for Krzyzewski to showcase his bench. Versatile players like Klay Thompson and DeMar DeRozan might become more valuable in this game to keep the starters fresh for the first of three games in a row.

 

Dominican Republic

Date: September 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN2, ESPN3

 

The United States had no problem against the Dominican Republic the last time out:

Considering there is no ringer on the way, it is hard to imagine the Dominican Republic coming back with a performance any better this time around.

The one thing they have going for them is good guard play behind Edgar Sosa and Francisco Garcia. This quick duo have a chance to get into the lane against sub-par defenders like James Harden and Curry. If they can hit their shots, they can expose a weak part of the American lineup.

That being said, the United States should have more than enough offense to survive this battle.

 

Ukraine

Date: September 4 at 11:30 a.m. ET

Watch: ESPN2, ESPN3

 

The Ukraine is ranked 45th in the latest FIBA World Rankings, which does not bode well for their chances in a 24-team tournament. The only NBA player on the roster is Viacheslav Kravtsov, who has played in 45 games over the past two years.

While it is important not to overlook anyone at this level, the United States should be able to easily come through with a victory in the final group-stage match.

This game will be the last chance for the Americans to work out the kinks before the single-elimination portion of the competition. As long as they play near their ability, though, this will not be a close game.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Anthony Davis’ Showing Against Brazil Is Preview of What’s to Come in 2014-15

Imagine how good Anthony Davis will be when the games actually matter.

The New Orleans Pelicans star was the player of the game in Team USA’s 95-78 win over Brazil on Saturday night. The national team is participating in a series of exhibitions in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Davis led the U.S. in scoring with 20 points. He also added four blocks, per USA Basketball:

“Anthony played great for us,” said Derrick Rose after the game, per Steve Silverman of USAB.com. “And when you see him diving, hustling and throwing himself all over to make a play, that’s really something. I’m so happy for him to contribute like that. It means a lot for this team.”

You can see a small sampling of his highlights below.

As NBA Tonight‘s Cassidy Hubbarth tweeted out, Saturday’s showcase only whet the appetites of basketball fans everywhere. The regular season can’t get here soon enough so we can watch Davis really grow into a beast:

It’s not crazy to call the 21-year-old one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA. You don’t see too many guys nearing 7 feet tall physically able to do the things he can do. On more than one occasion last year, Davis started a fast break for the Pelicans with a block in the paint. Then he’s one of the first guys down the floor to finish off the break with a thunderous dunk or a quick lay-in.

You can see an example of this from from a 2013-14 game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Davis’ repertoire is his mid-range shooting. From his first to second year, he developed a very good mid-range jumper. You can see the evidence of this below, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

Usually, when you see a big man expanding his shooting zone and taking more shots from one year to the next, his percentages will only increase slightly if not actually drop. Davis, on the other hand, increased his shooting percentage from 10-to-16 feet by .058 and from 16 feet to the three-point line by .108.

It’s hard to believe that anybody doubted this kid when he came out of Kentucky. The term transcendent is used a little too frequently, but he has the potential to be a transcendent big man in the league.

To be fair, how many people foresaw this kind of accelerated improvement offensively? His defense was never really in question. The hope was that Davis would add a little muscle and refine his shooting, but to see it happening this quickly is incredible.

All of this and he doesn’t turn 22 until March. Davis isn’t even beginning to approach the peak of his powers.

The only road block that could stand in his way is the New Orleans supporting cast. The Pelicans aren’t a terrible basketball team, but they lack that one star player who could pair up with Davis and make the franchise a serious contender.

ESPN.com’s NBA forecast had N.O. as the 10th-best team in the Western Conference. Davis also received 10 Most Valuable Player votes, which put him sixth.

Considering the leap he made in 2013-14, it’s scary to think where Davis could be in 2014-15. He may not win an MVP, but few players are better cornerstones for their respective franchises.

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FIBA World Cup Schedule 2014: Complete Preview for Preliminary Round of Tourney

The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup gives fans of international basketball the opportunity to watch their favorite nations in action outside of Olympic play.

Hosted by Spain, the 2014 FIBA tournament is going to be filled with excitement. The Spanish team is loaded with talent, evidenced by its silver medal in the 2012 Olympics. Its main competition is the United States, a team that won gold in the Olympics and also won 2010′s installment of this tournament against host nation Turkey.

The two teams have plenty of history, and they’ll enter the tournament as likely favorites to take home the top spot. Before group play gets underway, we’ll have to get through the preliminary rounds. The entire preliminary schedule can be found below.

 

Preliminary Round Schedule

Preliminary schedule is courtesy of NBA.com.

 

United States

Kevin Durant has pulled out of the FIBA tournament, and Paul George will miss out on the tournament because of a terrible injury he suffered in a scrimmage. Regardless, this team is poised to dominate in Spain.

Of course, it won’t be easy. Team USA’s schedule is a grueling one, and that even includes its pre-tournament tuneups. Nick Gallo of NBA.com broke down the team’s itinerary:

The United States’ training in Las Vegas ends on August 1st with the USA Basketball Showcase at 8:00 p.m. CDT. The team will then travel to Chicago, Ill. For two more days of training and an exhibition game against Brazil on August 16th at 8:00 p.m. CT. From August 18th-22nd, the United States squad will be training in New York City, squaring off against the Dominican Republic on August 20th and Puerto Rico on August 22nd in two more exhibition games before departing for Spain. Training camp concludes for the Untied States in Gran Canaria, Spain with two days of practice and a final exhibition tune-up against Slovenia on August 26th.

That’s a lot of basketball, but the tuneups will be necessary for success in this tournament. Basketball is a game of consistency, and it’s hard to find consistency if you aren’t playing consistently. Makes sense.

Team USA’s exhibition against Brazil is Saturday evening, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski has already named four of his five starters for the game, tweets NBC’s Kurt Helin:

The other spot won’t be occupied by DeMarcus Cousins, as SportsCenter tweeted that he won’t play in the contest:

Even without Durant, George and now Cousins (for at least one game), the United States have the weapons to make noise. Just look at the four listed in the starting lineup. Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis are a scary quartet on the floor.

This lineup might be fluid during exhibition games as Coach K works out the kinks with his roster, but there are multiple candidates to start games on this stacked roster.

 

Spain

The Spanish team is loaded with talent.

Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol are the three headliners. This frontcourt is absolutely dominant in every facet of the game, so it will be interesting to see how teams combat these big bodies.

Veterans like Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and Juan-Carlos Navarro are also set to play well. They’ve proved themselves in international competition in the past, making them candidates to help keep the offense flowing efficiently.

Ricky Rubio is the X-factor for the Spanish. Everyone is aware of his incredible passing ability. It’s that ability that’s going to help Spain confuse opposing defenses and get easy baskets, so in that regard, Rubio is a plus.

But then there’s Rubio‘s ineffective jump shot.

Rubio isn’t a good shooter. The whole world knows it. Sometimes he himself doesn’t, however. Rubio tends to lean on that jumper a bit too much, and if he does that in this tournament, Spain will lose a good amount of their dominance.

Playing in front of their home fans gives Spain an edge, but there is certainly something playing against them. If Rubio realizes that he needs to dish before shooting, Spain can challenge the United States.

 

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

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Eastern Conference preview: Bulls or the Cavs?

In the East, you only have two teams locked in playoff positions the Bulls and the Cavs. Either are 1st or 2nd seed, those are interchangeable. I don’t think any other teams can catch them. But here is where it gets interesting. With the Paul George injury, the whole Eastern Conference is now split open. The post Eastern Conference preview: Bulls or the Cavs? appeared first on Route 4 Sports.

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NBA Draft 2014: Full First-Round Order and Preview of Selection Process

In the days remaining before Thursday night’s 2014 NBA draft, anyone attempting to forecast the proceedings is only preparing for inevitable disappointment.

If the results were uncertain, news of Joel Embiid‘s injured foot only adds to the unknown. Judging players based on their footwork, length, quickness, agility, shooting, teamwork and basketball IQ, among countless other skills, is hard enough; now teams picking near the top need to weigh a health risk as well.

This news springs the No. 1 pick back in the air, a selection that holds a ripple effect over the entire first round, the order of which is shown below. 

 

When: Thursday, June 26

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York)

TV/Live Stream: ESPN, WatchESPN

 

Draft Preview

Anyone who thinks they figured out the draft better think again.

Just when the early picks began to form in line, injury news surrounding top center Embiid has thrown everything firmly into chaos. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski broke news of the Kansas standout needing surgery to repair his fractured right foot.

His timetable to return is set for four to six months, which means he could be ready for the beginning of the 2014-15 season with a speedy recovery. Yet the Cleveland Cavaliers have to feel queasy about investing the future of their franchise in somebody who might be able to play next season, especially with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker available.

Worries about a back injury that forced him to sit out the NCAA tournament already raised some questions, but this added blow could vanquish him from top-pick consideration. In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman now has Embiid going No. 6 to the Boston Celtics. At that point, he’s a risk worth taking for a team looking to hit a home run to expedite the rebuilding process.

Director of player personnel Austin Ainge gave a vague answer when posed with that scenario by The Boston Globe‘s Baxter Holmes. 

Draft night typically spawns a few trades, and this year is likely to be no different. There’s, of course, the Kevin Love factor, which could motivate a team such as Boston to part with precious picks for the star forward, who will become a free agent next offseason. 

Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers were highly active on draft night, trading Jru Holliday to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel’s draft rights. Wojnarowski noted that they are looking at point guards Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, which has people wondering what happens with Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.

There’s talk of the Los Angeles Lakers hotly pursuing the young point guard. ESPN’s Ryen Russillo plotted out a scenario that makes no sense for Philadelphia.

Why trade a 22-year-old who averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game last season? Especially when the 76ers already pick twice in the top 10? Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus denied the latest string of chatter.

Philadelphia’s energy would be better spent calling Cleveland to move up to the No. 1 pick, where it can then select the team’s top target, Andrew Wiggins. Now that Embiid is hurt, the Cavaliers may be more willing to part with the top selection. If they still want the 7-footer, picking him at No. 3 would draw less pressure than taking him first, and they can also milk the No. 10 selection out of the deal.

Whatever happens, it’s sure to be an entertaining night at Barclays Center. Even though the event will take place in their home arena for the first time, Brooklyn Nets fans may want to stay home since their team doesn’t have any draft picks.

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Baylor-Wisconsin Preview (Yahoo Sports)

Baylor's Kenny Chery passes the ball during practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. Baylor plays Wisconsin in a regional semifinal on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Baylor and Wisconsin have never met in a men’s basketball game, and the unpredictable Bears have little in common with the disciplined Badgers at first glance. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and Baylor’s Scott Drew both recognized one big similarity as their teams prepared for their matchup just down the street from Disneyland. Sixth-seeded Baylor (26-11) and second-seeded Wisconsin (28-7) went through workouts Wednesday at Honda Center before they play Thursday for a spot in the West Regional final. While the building is unfamiliar, the stakes are not: The Badgers are in the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years, while the Bears have made it three times in the last five.


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UCLA-Florida Preview (Yahoo Sports)

UCLA head coach Steve Alford watches his team work out during practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. UCLA plays Florida in a regional semifinal on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Scottie Wilbekin has defended the 6-foot-6 Harrison twins of Kentucky and seen his share of tall guards during his four seasons at Florida. Yet nothing really has prepared the Southeastern Conference player of the year for UCLA’s Kyle Anderson. The sophomore plays point guard for UCLA despite being 6-9, tall enough to play forward or center on any other team. Anderson can stretch his arms out 7-3, allowing him to simply pass over or around any defender in his path helping the Bruins average 81.5 points a game.


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Trail Blazers at Magic game preview

The slumping Portland Trail Blazers came up just short against the two-time defending champs, but they appear to have a good chance to regroup before leaving Florida.
With LaMarcus Aldridge likely out again, Portland tries to hand the last-place Orlando Magic a season worst-tying 10th consecutive defeat Tuesday night.
The Trail Blazers (45-26) are hoping to avoid their eighth loss in 11 games after falling 93-91 at Miami on Monday. Portland stormed back from 17 down in the fourth quarter, but Damian Lillard’s potential game-tying layup with just over a second to go was blocked.
“We’re tired of losing close games, but you can’t help it to be proud of the way we competed,” said coach Terry Stotts, whose team was held to 37.8 percent shooting. “It would have been easy to fold things up, but that’s not in our DNA.”
Lillard finished with 19 points while shooting 3 of 15, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range. The Blazers were outscored 52-26 in the paint without Aldridge, whose st

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