We got our first look at Team USA and plenty of Boston Celtics on Sunday morning in the FIBA World Cup as the National Team defeated an overmatched Czech Republic squad 88-67 in what was largely a one-sided affair.
This matchup was the first of three pool play games over the upcoming week for Team USA in China before the second round begins next week. All four Celtics saw significant time during the matchup, with Walker and Tatum leading the way in the scoring department. Here's a look at the box scoreline for each player.
Kemba Walker: 13 points, (6/8 FG, 1/3 3pt), 4 assists, 1 steal in 18 minutes
Jayson Tatum: 10 points (4/11 FG, 2/5 3pt), 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in 17 minutes
Marcus Smart: 4 points, (2/5 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists in 20 minutes
Jaylen Brown: 2 points, (1/3 FG), 3 rebounds, 1 assist and a block in 18 minutes.
Given that the broadcast was only available on ESPN-plus (subscription required) here's a closer analysis of each player from a solid win for the Americans in their debut.
Kemba Walker held up well on defense despite being targeted frequently in the post: In what will certainly prove to be a sneak preview of many nights this winter, Walker seemed to have a target on his back for most of this contest against the Czech Republic. The logic was sound by a Czech team that only had one NBA player on their roster in 6-foot-7 Tomas Satoransky. The point guard had a nice size edge on Walker so the All-Star was put to the test early and often in post-up situations against Satoransky and other wings after switches?
The good news for Team USA in this matchup. Walker held up admirably well. He fought hard in the post, benefitted from some timely flashes of help and prevented Satoransky or anyone else from getting too comfortable in the interior. Walker did well to navigate tough screens at the top of the perimeter much of the night as well.
Another good possession on defense from US' small lineup. The switches are keeping the ball in front and keeping them out of rotations. End up switching Kemba on to a big but watch the good digs from Jaylen Brown on that post up. Forces him to pick it up and kick it out. pic.twitter.com/lCjMrtn6W3
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) September 1, 2019
Walker was a model of efficiency on the offensive end: This hasn’t been the case for much of Walker’s