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Preview: Team (USA) Celtics vs. Australia

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Friendships, bonds, and good vibes surround this 2-game exhibition series against the Boomers Down Under.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics - Game One Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

With only a handful of days to go before the start of the World Cup, four current Celtics and one former Celtic meet up in a rare trip to the Southern Hemisphere. Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and a recovering Marcus Smart will square off against former Celtic Aron Baynes at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on August 22nd and 24th for a two-game series. Team USA will then travel to Sydney on August 26th to face Canada in the final exhibition game before heading to China for the tournament.

Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics
Former Celtics big man Aron Baynes and Jaylen Brown.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Aron Baynes will be sight for sore eyes suiting up in the green and gold of Australia and has stressed that this crop of Team USA players remain hungry and want to succeed. Baynes spoke early this week in an interview with ESPN, specifically of Jayson Tatum:

“He’s so talented - even from the first day I played with him when he was a rookie in his first preseason, you could see how talented he was offensively and he also wants to work on the defensive end which isn’t common in the NBA - some guys live on that offensive talent but he wants to develop his all-round game.”

Baynes also noted that playing with both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum for the past few years, he recognized that they are both “extremely thirsty to go out and improve their game.”

Recent free agent acquisition Kemba Walker has firmly established himself as the primary ball handler in the starting five for Team USA and Marcus Smart is still recovering in time for World Cup competition. Boston fans will be looking for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to continue to show that consistent aggression as they did against Spain and take advantage of their athleticism to attack the paint and create off the dribble.

USA Basketball Mens National Team Practice - Australia
Jayson Tatum extends to dunk in a Team USA practise in Melbourne prior to the August 22nd exhibition game.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With Baynes showering his former teammates with praise, Jayson Tatum also spoke out publicly to laud the man Celtics fans know as “All of Australia” and how excited he is to play against him.

The strong relationships between the two squads don’t stop at the Celtics though. The connections spread far and wide including Team USA Coach Gregg Popovich being a great admirer of his PG Patty Mills by publicly recognising his indigenous heritage and culture. Team USA’s respect will no doubt extend to the court also, as Coach Pop will be very aware of Patty Mills’ prowess to score on and off the ball.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
Team USA’s Coach Popovich and Australian starting PG Patrick Mills
Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

A pair of teammates from Utah, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell will face off against one another for the first time outside of practice and as both squads have been decimated by late withdrawals, this duo will feature heavily in China. Scoring guard Donovan Mitchell joined the Jazz in the summer of 2017 just as Joe Ingles said goodbye to friend and free agent Gordon Hayward whom opted to part ways and join Boston.

Team USA’s Harrison Barnes and Boomer Andrew Bogut are long time close friends and were former roommates on the Golden State Warriors between 2012-2016 before Barnes departed to the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent. Bogut has been a stalwart performer on the international stage for Australia and tallied 10 points and 13 rebounds against Canada last Friday night in Perth before resting for the second game.

2015 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability
Australian C Andrew Bogut, Team USA Asst Coach Steve Kerr and Team USA SF Harrison Barnes share a laugh prior to the 2015 finals Series.
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

With the mass media outlets recycling stories centered around the players that are absent from these respective squads in the lead up, one can’t help but focus on the intertwined narratives of the brilliant players and coaches who made themselves available and are brought together via competition on the international stage.

1996 NBA Finals Game 3: Chicago Bulls v. Seattle SuperSonics
Team USA & Australian assistant coaches Steve Kerr and Luc Longley played together on one of the greatest NBA teams of all time from 1994-1998.
Photo by Nathanie S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With Team USA now down to 13 men, it appears certain that all four Celtics will now make the final team of twelve. As the global popularity of the NBA reaches new heights and with a bevy of Celtics star players gracing the court, we will likely see a ton of Green on Thursday and we might even hear a few “Let’s go, Celtics!!” chants ring out in the 50,000 seat venue.


Projected Starters

PG – Kemba WalkerPatty Mills

SG – Donovan MitchellMatthew Dellavedova

SF – Khris Middleton Joe Ingles

PF – Jayson TatumJock Landale

C – Brook LopezAron Baynes

Injuries

USA – Marcus Smart (Calf - questionable), P.J. Tucker (Ankle - out, heading home)

Australia – David Barlow (Back - out)

How To Watch

USA Time- 5:30 a.m. EST, 22nd August 2019

USA TV- NBATV, NBA Twitch

Australian Time- 7:30 p.m. AEST, 22nd August 2019

Australian TV- SBS Viceland

Previous Result: Team USA 98 - Australia 88, 11th August 2016, Rio Summer Olympics