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Redemption, Thy Name Is Defense

After getting to know their Greek opponents for the first five minutes of Thursday's game (was it still Thursday in Beijing?), Team USA unleashed wave after wave of defensive pressure to take control of the game and eventually coast to a 92-69 win.

How fun was this game to watch? There were several jaw dropping moments that had me wearing out the Skip Back button on my DVR. All of those fantastic finishes at the hoop are great, but the ball hawking intensity on defense really had my juices flowing. Depth and defense are proving to be the difference for Team USA so far as the Americans clinched a spot in the medal round.

Dwyane Wade came off the bench and again asserted his will on the game. The guy is not only healthy again, he's a beast. He appears to be 6-6, 230 instead of the listed 6-4. He was everywhere. Oh, and the save-oop to Kobe Bryant?  Yeah.

LeBron James has become a freakish hybrid of Michael Jordan and Karl Malone, just smothering shots at the glass and running both ways like Michael Johnson. No team has a chance to catch up to the U.S. with Chris Bosh running from the 5 and LeBron holding down the 4 spot. It simply wasn't fair today.

Did I mention the defense? Really, that focus and effort is all they need to find gold. The suffocating defensive effort made Greece crumble like some Athenian ruins. That was intimidating-will-killing-skill-doubting-holy-#&@%-get-me-outta-here defense.

Spain is going to be a huge test on Saturday, but the Spaniards may not want to watch too much tape of this game. The USA defense is coming and it's coming strong. The flawed free throw and 3-ball shooting aren't even factors when you force 25 turnovers. Spain has some nice guards but the few times I've seen them play they have a tendency to stride near the edge of out of control. Plus, again, the depth the U.S. has to send heat in waves should be a deciding factor.

The momentum appears to be building for Team USA to turn their Beijing trip into something special. If they maintain the effort shown today, the gold is well within grasp.