Kemba Walker

Team USA stunned by Australia, 98-94; Marcus Smart debuts for US

Team USA stunned by Australia, 98-94; Marcus Smart debuts for US

Marcus Smart made his debut for Team USA, which saw its 78-game international winning streak end in a 98-94 loss to Australia early Saturday in Melbourne.

Smart,  who had been bothered by a calf injury throughout training camp as the Americans prepare for the FIBA World Cup next week in China, started and scored seven points, had three assists and one rebound in nine minutes. Fellow Celtics guard Kemba Walker led Team USA with 22 points.

The other members of the Celtics contingent - a.k.a. "Team Shamrock" - Jayson Tatum (five points) and Jaylen Brown (eight points) came off the bench as the US, which had a 10-point lead in the third quarter, lost for the first time since 2006 with NBA players on its roster.

Former Celtics big man Aron Baynes, now with the Phoenix Suns, had 13 points for the Aussies, who were led by a 30-point performance from Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs. 

With an injury to the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma keeping him out of the World Cup, the 12-player US roster is set and it will include all four Celtics. The Americans open against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1 in China.

The last US loss with NBA players was in the 2006 world championship semifinals to Greece, a team that next week will feature NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Team USA enters the World Cup No. 1 in the FIBA rankings 

“They wanted it more than us tonight,” Walker said. “Lesson learned for us.”

 

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2019 FIBA World Cup live stream: How to watch Team USA vs. Australia exhibition

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USA TODAY Sports photo

2019 FIBA World Cup live stream: How to watch Team USA vs. Australia exhibition

After drawing the largest crowd for a basketball game ever in Australia on Thursday (51,218), Team USA and Australia return to Marvel Stadium late tonight (2 p.m. Saturday in Melbourne) to play another tuneup for the FIBA World Cup.

A trio of Celtics - part of "Team Shamrock" for the US - all played key roles in helping the US defeat the Aussies 102-86. Kemba Walker scored a game-high 23 points, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown each scored 11. The fourth Celtic on Team USA, Marcus Smart, who hasn't played because of a calf injury, didn't play in that game but has been cleared to return and could be back tonight.

Team Australia includes a former Celtic, Aron Baynes.

The Americans have one more tuneup in Australia, Monday against Team Canada, before the FIBA World Cup opens in China against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1. 

Here's how to watch tonight's game:

When: Saturday, Aug. 24, midnight
TV Channel: NBA TV
Live Stream: Twitch and NBA.com

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Celtics' talent, leadership on display with Team USA basketball

Celtics' talent, leadership on display with Team USA basketball

With four players on the Team USA roster, we all knew that the Boston Celtics would have a major influence on the squad. 

Well now it’s official with Team USA’s triumvirate of captains including a pair of Celtics — Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. 

UPDATE (Friday, Aug. 23 at 12:34 p.m. ET by Nick Goss): It appears Team USA doesn't have official captains, but we should still expect Walker and Smart to have strong leadership roles on the squad.

--End of Update--

They along with Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, are charged with leading a team that has lost a lot of its star power with several key players opting to not play for a variety of reasons.

"We have a bunch of guys who don't mind being the underdogs,” Walker told reporters. “We are hungry, and we are going to go out there to try and win a gold medal...I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me and I'm here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy."

Walker is arguably the best player on the team, so it’s no surprise that he’s a captain. Mitchell being named a captain isn’t a shock either, when you consider how he came in as a rookie and showed tremendous ability as a leader with the Jazz and has continued to build off that success. 

But Smart’s selection as a captain speaks to why his brand of leadership goes beyond the box score. 

He has been nursing a calf injury, which has not allowed him to get on the floor as much as he would like. He did not play (coaches decision) in Team USA’s 102-86 exhibition win over Australia on Thursday morning.

But whether he’s on or off the court, Smart’s leadership with Team USA is steady — something the Celtics are looking forward to seeing on display this season.  

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