Kevin Durant will look to lead Team USA to basketball gold at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The United States meet France on Sunday as they begin the defence of the men’s basketball title at Tokyo 2020 here, a gold medal that, more than any other, has been dominated by them.

They have won all but two tournaments they have taken part in since the sport was introduced in 1936.

They have not lost at the Olympics since Athens 2004.

"Every team wants to beat us, everybody wants to see us lose, so every game has a little bit more pressure to it," Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant admitted.

However, the US' build-up has been fraught. 

The team lost two Las Vegas exhibition matches this month, 90-87 to Nigeria a fortnight ago and 91-83 to Australia two nights later.

Washington Gators shooting guard Bradley Beal tested positive for COVID-19 and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love withdrew due to a right calf strain.

San ldon Johnson and Javale McGee were called up to replace them.

Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton flew in barely 24 hours before the first match after helping the Milwaukee Bucks to lift the NBA title.

Devin Booker, shooting guard for beaten finalists Phoenix Suns, is also set to arrive late.

Team USA lost Kevin Love to injury in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Team USA lost Kevin Love to injury in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Head coach Gregg Popovich said: “Well, there’s not a whole lot you can do when they get here the day before. 

"It’s pretty obvious that they won’t know everything that’s been going on, but luckily it’s basketball. 

"We’ll try to keep it simple and just take care of what we think we can take care of.

“The good thing is they’ll be in shape. 

"I don’t know how the plane’s gonna affect them, that’s not an easy flight. 

"It is true that they won’t be as ready to play in the sense of execution that we might want, but that’s understandable."

Iran open the tournament in the same pool with a match against the Czech Republic.

In the opening match of Group B, Nigeria face Australia, who include seven NBA players in their line up including San Antonio Spurs point guard Patty Mills who carried the flag at Friday’s opening ceremony and four-time Olympian Joe Ingles of Utah Jazz.

Ingle said: "We don’t talk about anything else - there’s one goal in mind and that’s to win a gold medal in Tokyo. 

"If we wait and look 10 years down the track, we’ll think different, but we’re here to make history."

Germany meet Italy in the other match Group B.

In Group C, Argentina meet Slovenia and host nation Japan face Spain, medallists at the last three Games, on Monday.