BOSTON — As expected, an undermanned Team USA squad delivered an overwhelming beatdown to Japan, 98-45.
Team Shamrock was missing half of the Boston Celtics foursome with Jayson Tatum (ankle sprain) out for at least two games, while Marcus Smart (left quadriceps) was held out and is listed as day-to-day.
For both teams, there was nothing on the line in Thursday’s game with Team USA having already secured a berth in the medal round.
Japan lost all three games in pool play, but are the only sure bet to be in the 2020 Olympics as the host country.
Team USA jumped out to an 11-0 start in a game that was never close.
As for the Celtics, even with half of Team Shamrock out with injuries, the tandem that did play — Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown — certainly put their imprint on the game’s outcome with a slew of highlight-worthy plays.
Here’s a look at how they fared against Japan.
It really has been a roller coaster of sorts for Jaylen Brown thus far, a player who has been seemingly front-and-center or nowhere to be found. Coming off the win over Turkey in which he played just six minutes, Brown responded with a team-high 20 points against Japan which included 3-pointers as well as a couple of transition dunks. With Tatum out, there was little doubt that Brown would get more of an opportunity to play. And to his credit, he made the most of it by delivering strong play both scoring the ball as well as his play defensively.
He has been Team USA’s best scorer, but Walker is showcasing a more well-rounded game than what we saw in Charlotte. He has been finding guys in transition, drawing charges at critical moments and not allowing bigger players to just get where they want to, when they want to, on offense. He delivered yet another solid performance against Japan, finishing with 15 points and eight assists. There’s little doubt that Walker is Team USA’s best player, displaying different layers of his talent that we have not seen before while maintaining his role as the team’s leader.
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