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Shoutout To Team USA For Not Embarrassing Themselves And The Country Again

USA v Canada

Sure, this was against Canada, but I’ll have you know this Canada team beat Australia by like 20, and we can’t forget the fact that Team USA brought shame on this great nation by dropping a game to the Aussies over the weekend. To be honest despite the score, they really didn’t play all that well, at least offensively. Things looked stagnant, they couldn’t stop turning the ball over, didn’t shoot all that well, but thankfully the defense was Grade A stuff and they were able to handle business. But seeing as how these are fake tune up games, all I really care about is how the Celtics foursome looked. They were a huge reason why that loss happened on Saturday, so this morning was a great opportunity for them to bounce back and calm everyone’s nerves. For the most part, that happened. Just like we do after every game, let’s have a look

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Jaylen Brown

So far, at least in my opinion this is the best we’ve seen Jaylen look all summer. We’ve seen him be efficient, we’ve seen him hit the glass like a possessed monster, but we haven’t really seen an outing where he seemed to put it all together. Today he was aggressive, he showed an inside/outside game, and most importantly he played in control. His 19 points on 8-11 shooting led all Team USA players, and I’ll take him finishing a +16 in his 19 minutes. On top of that, he made both his FTs! Now it’s true he did have some issues when he got stuck in the post and had a couple turnovers, but at this stage we’re just looking at certain signs of development that he may be able to take into next season.

For example, that hesitation leading into his And1. That’s a move Jaylen Brown doesn’t have last year. If he did, he chose not to use it which seems silly because it was pretty damn effective. Instead we usually saw him get tied up in traffic in those instances, so that tells me he’s more confident in his handles and he’s broadening his offensive arsenal. I’d say that’s a good thing. I also thought he did a much better job not just playing with tunnel vision. For him it’s a thin line between being aggressive and being out of control, but in this game he was much better at managing it. That’s another positive development.

Kemba Walker

He’s been the best, most consistent scorer on the team so far this summer, but by his standards he was relatively quiet. Effective and efficient no doubt, his 15/5/2 on 3-5 shooting tells that story. As a Celtics fan I’m already falling in love with his right to left crossover, that thing is so compact and so quick nobody has shown the ability to stay in front of it, but I’m also loving Kemba’s ability to get to the line. He led the team with 7 FTA in this game and every single Celts fan that watched last year’s team knows how big of an issue FTA is. Even someone like Kyrie who is normally awesome at getting to the line had a pretty big dip in his free throw rate. Tatum almost never goes, Jaylen can get there but struggles making them. They need guys who can get to that charity stripe more than we saw last year. Seeing their new point guard achieve that is great. Also, maybe it’s just me but I feel like Kemba almost never turns the ball over for someone who has the ball in his hands as much as he does.

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Maybe it’s because he wasn’t facing Patty Mills, but I also thought Kemba was much better on the defensive end after pretty much getting exposed on Saturday. I don’t need him to be an All NBA defender, I just need him to not be a giant glaring weakness. Brad can work with that.

Marcus Smart

I think we were all excited when Marcus Smart returned to the lineup on Saturday, but it was a bit of a cock tease in a sense that he only played 9 minutes and didn’t play the second half when they clearly needed him. In that showing we got a version of Smart that was pretty intoxicating in terms of his shooting and then his ability to create for his teammates. Well today was way more of a vintage Marcus Smart performance and why he’s probably on this team in the first place. There was that play above which I’ll admit terrifies me a bit that he’s going balls to the wall in fake international games, but he just can’t help it and I accept that.

In terms of his line? A true Smart masterpiece. He took 1 shot, had 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals to finish a +5 in his 17 minutes. That’s a Marcus Smart special if I’ve ever seen one. He’ll guard whoever, he won’t force things on the offensive end, and he’ll do all those small things that help you win. A performance like today makes me confident Smart is back to 100% more than what we saw on Saturday. Feels good to have him back.

Jayson Tatum

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Those plays right there were really the only highlight of Tatum’s night because for the second straight game this dude was garbage on the offensive end. He followed up his 2-8 performance on Saturday with a 2-11 performance today and frankly there’s no way to positively spin what we saw. Part of it was being given the ball with like 3 seconds left on the shot clock and forced to take tough shots, but we saw him struggle once he got a mismatch to finish around the rim. I mean his missed layups weren’t even close, and every jumper he took was a tough turnaround. Add in a couple of TOs and it was a rough day.

The positive is that unlike Saturday, it still felt like Tatum was engaged in the game despite his offensive struggles. He was still solid on the glass, defensively there weren’t any really bad mental mistakes because he wasn’t mentally focused and was instead thinking about his jumper. That’s all well and good but if Team USA wants to actually win a gold medal, they are going to need Jayson Tatum to snap out of this offensive funk. Him and Khris Middleton (0-8) have had a ROUGH go of it as of late.

 


With the win and 3 of the 4 playing well, I do feel a little better about Team Shamrock and their progression in this tournament. They talked about that game on Saturday being a bit of a wake up call, and honestly outside of Tatum’s shooting struggles they played with a much better mentality. Team USA still has its best runs when at least 3 of them are on the floor together, and that’s why I say the fate of America depends on the Boston Celtics. At least now we can show our faces on the internet and it’s almost as if Saturday never happened.