BOSTON -- It has been well-documented that this Team USA squad doesn’t have the kind of offensive firepower we’ve seen from past teams.
So it is their defense that more times than not, will blaze a path towards victory.
That was indeed the case on Monday as Team USA pulled away for an 89-73 win over Brazil, fueled in large part by its ability to generate easy buckets out of its defense in addition to getting some timely shot-making from the trio of Boston Celtics on the roster (Jayson Tatum, still on the mend from an ankle injury, did not play).
Brazil, which was eliminated from World Cup play with the loss, got a game-high 21 points from Vitor Benite. Ex-Celtic Leandro Barbosa came off the Brazilian bench to score 14 points while another former NBA player, Anderson Varejao, also had 14 points.
Team USA moves on to where it will face France in a quarterfinal matchup.
As for the Celtics contingent on Team USA, here’s a look at their impact on Monday’s win.
He led the team with a game-high 16 points, in addition to continuing to be the team’s on-the-floor leader. More times than not, it was Walker making the big shot or the right pass to keep Brazil from seriously threatening Team USA’s control of the game. In addition, his defense led to some well-timed turnovers by Brazil that collectively factored into Team USA’s victory.
We talk a lot about his defense, but arguably the play of the game for Team USA was a buzzer-beating shot by Marcus Smart to end the third quarter. The shot, which left his hand with 0.1 seconds, gave Team USA an 11-point lead going into the fourth. But maybe just as significant, it seemed to squash all hopes of a Brazil comeback after it had stayed within single digits for most of the first three quarters. Smart finished with nine points.
It really has been feast or famine with Jaylen Brown for Team USA. Against Brazil, we saw a little bit of both. Brown missed a few shots he should have made early on, but still saw playing time because of his solid play defensively. As the game wore on, it was clear that Team USA was wearing down the more seasoned Brazilian team, which created quite a few opportunities to get easy baskets in the second half. Brown was among those to benefit from this, scoring eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, in addition to doing his part defensively in helping Team USA outscore Brazil 19-7 in points off turnovers.
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