We got our first look at Team USA and plenty of Boston Celtics on late Friday night as the National Team defeated the Select Team (younger players) 97-78 in what was largely a one-sided affair.
This matchup was the first of several tune-ups for Team USA over the upcoming two weeks as they prepare for the start of the FIBA World Cup while also trimming down the roster to 12 players.
Marcus Smart (sore calf) and Kyle Lowry (thumb surgery) were the only two national team players who didn’t suit up in this one. Lowry’s job is safe on the 12-man roster as long as he’s healthy, while Smart probably still has a little work to do to cement a spot on the final roster for himself when he gets back on the floor.
Despite’s Smart absence, there was plenty to watch for from Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in the 40-minute affair (four 10-minute quarters). While the reviews have been generally positive on the performances of all three Celtics during training camp, it was a mixed bag for Boston’s talent on Friday night. Let’s take a closer look at each performance and figure out where each player stands so far in the USA hierarchy for this summer.
Box Scoreline: 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 0/1 FG, 2/2 FT, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls in 11 minutes
Analysis: The good news for Brown was that he was in the starting five with Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton and Myles Turner, a pretty positive sign that he had a strong week of training camp. However, no National team player struggled more than Brown in this scrimmage. Offensively, he tried to force the issue a lot in this game and ended up empty-handed on multiple trips down the floor with some isolation posters and strong takes to the rim. None of these sequences could be counted as a big surprise to see C’s fans since they tend to happen when he has a rough night. A loose handle got him into trouble a couple of times in transition while he also tried to drive on bigger defenders (Marvin Bagley) multiple times and ended up in awkward spots, leading to a few turnovers (charge, traveling).
The ‘hero ball’ earned him a quick seat on the bench at the start of the second half with Joe Harris (5 points in 19 minutes) getting some run over him. Defensively, Brown was better with a couple steals by disrupting pick-and-rolls, while holding his own on the glass. However, he did get burned on a headfake that resulted in an easy layup and was part of some miscommunications on defense.
The bottom line? This was one tough scrimmage for him but it’s not worth getting worked up over. The problem for Brown is there is still a lot of competition for his final spot, especially with De’Aaron Fox playing well and Harris getting plenty of run. Brown is going to have to bounce back with a better showing next week in Los Angeles to feel good about his standing with the team.