Team USA Basketball won its third exhibition game yesterday defeating Great Britain 118-78 in a game played in England.
The game was never really closed as the United States continues to gel and look better the more time they spend together on the floor.
A key change to this game was head coach Mike Krzyzewski shuffling up the starting lineup. He started Kevin Durant and Deron Williams I this game instead of Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony who started the first two games.
“I don’t necessarily think there is any permanence to our starting lineup,” Krzyzewski said after the game. “You basically have a group, a core group, of veterans, mostly from the Beijing Olympics that I think do need to be the core of this team because they’re older, they’ve been through the Olympics. Durant, talent-wise, is right there with any of them.”
The starting lineup may not matter for every game as the United States should roll past most countries but finding some consistency could be important to have by the time Team USA makes it into the medal round.
Starting Durant should be a no-brainer too. Durant is perhaps the best player in the NBA right now for international competition. With the shorter 3-point line and the fact that he will mostly be matched up with opposing fours makes him Team USA’ most potent weapon on offense.
It just feels like a waste to have LeBron James on the floor without Durant at the start of games. Anthony is probably better suited as a scorer to come off the bench than Durant too and looked comfortable doing so against Great Britain.
“Coach just wanted to switch it up a little bit tonight,” Anthony said. “They’re still trying to figure out not so much his lineups, but getting everybody a feel for playing with one another. Tonight he wanted to go with KD (Kevin Durant) and Deron (Williams) he brought me and CP (Chris Paul) off the bench. So, we’re just trying to figure it out in these games, putting everybody in a lot of positions out there.”
The same can be said for starting Williams instead of Paul. Paul may be the better NBA point guard but Williams has the edge in the international game mainly because he is a far superior shooter from the outside.
The starting lineup is still not set yet and Krzyzewski says he will simply continue to start some combination of the team’s top seven players.
Team USA will play their next exhibition game Sunday night at midnight EST vs. Argentina.