Team USA needed a confidence boosting win Monday in it’s clash against Brazil in the FIBA World Cup. With a final 8 matchup against the Group L loser of either Australia or France clash on the line, Jayson Tatum was yet again unavailable. Former Celtic and Brazilian legend Leandro Barbosa was a welcome sight however as his Coach Aleksandar Petrović got ejected 13 minutes into the game, as things went askew early for the South Americans.
Kemba Walker was the only Celtic starter for Team USA and make no mistake, he has been the most consistent player all Summer for Team USA. Doing a little bit of everything Walker came into the game averaging 14ppg, 6apg and 3rpg on 24 mpg in the tournament. In this game Kemba would have 10 points and 5 assists at the first half alone!!
Kemba Walker worked well in the pick and roll early with Myles Turner and had two great passes to create Turner easy opportunities near the rim for his big man. 29-year old Walker has also been facilitating and creating for his teammates with elite effectiveness.
Kemba Walker has been USA's best player. He's gotten whatever shot he wants almost every time he has the ball, or he makes plays for someone else.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) September 9, 2019
Jaylen Brown was the first Celtic off the bench and missed on his first two low post plays after getting into prime scoring positions. He struggled early missing his first plays.
Jaylen Brown has shown some nice post moves, actually finishing them is the next step. It's coming though.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) September 9, 2019
However, Brown was effective in more ways than one providing a spark defensively and spear heading some brilliant fast break plays.
Defense by Jaylen Brown helps spark Team USA spurt that has them ahead 59-48 with 3:44 to play in the third quarter. pic.twitter.com/BIu2qFQtmV— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) September 9, 2019
A super small lineup with Jaylen Brown at center — matched up against Anderson Varejao — is helping Team USA open this one up. Brown, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker have all been good today.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) September 9, 2019
Brown is a favourite of Coach Pop with his defensive versatility as he had logged some quality minutes, he also logged a quality jam mid way through the 4th quarter.
Brazil might want to cover Jaylen Brown pic.twitter.com/UhPkOCqN43— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) September 9, 2019
Marcus Smart fresh off his stellar defensive game vs. the NBA MVP, Smart again was solid in this game. Marcus Smart was involved in a little bit of everything to start as he bullied his way to the basket over the smaller defender in Garcias. He also skied for a brilliant weak side block on Cristiano Felicio:
Great help-side block by Marcus Smart, leads to Team USA lay-up. pic.twitter.com/OlsGfdxAT5— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) September 9, 2019
Coach Pop went to his Celtic trio of Walker, Brown and Smart late in the first half and his Celtics didn’t disappoint. The trust that Popovich has shown in his Celtic players has been validating for fans as they continue to perform when called upon.
Team USA now face France Wed. at 7am ET who lost to Australia.
FIBA World Cup quarterfinals:— J.E. Skeets (@jeskeets) September 9, 2019
7a ET: Argentina-Serbia
9a ET: Spain-Poland
7a ET: USA-France
9a ET: Australia-Czech Rep.
Kemba/Jaylen/Smart continue to do good things together. C's brass has to be smiling to see how integral each has been on both sides of floor in recent wins for USA.— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) September 9, 2019