Anecdotally, the fast pace at which the USA men's basketball team played at the 2008 Olympics was the main reason for their dominance, although there is no way of quantifying what a fast pace is or how it contributed to point differentials. The aim of this study was to examine the game-related statistics that discriminate between fast- and slow-paced games, as well as to identify key performance factors relating to point differentials. We analysed game-related statistics for each quarter of the eight games played by the USA using a k-means cluster analysis to classify game pace using ball possessions per game quarter. We then tested for differences in game statistics between slow- and fast-paced game quarters using analysis of variance and discriminant analysis. How differences in game-related statistics affected point differentials was examined using linear regression. The largest structure coefficient between game paces for the USA was for recovered balls (0.33, P < 0.001). The biggest contributors to the point differences in games were recovered balls (16.9, P < 0.001) and field goals (22.2, P < 0.001). We conclude that when the USA play a fast-paced game, they are able to recover more balls from opponents that they then turn into effective field-goal shooting.
Sampaio, J., Lago, C., & Drinkwater, E. (2010). Explanations for the United States of America's dominance in basketball at the Beijing Olympic Games (2008). Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(2), 147-152. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410903380486