Steph Curry

What we learned as Steph fuels Team USA's showcase win vs. Canada

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LAS VEGAS – The first look at this year’s version of Team USA Men’s Basketball for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics began ugly before turning the volume to dominance and hanging on for an 86-72 win against Canada at the T-Mobile Arena to open their slate of exhibition games. 

Team USA trailed 21-14 after the first quarter where they turned the ball over eight times, had only three assists and were 1 of 7 from 3-point range. The second quarter was a different story, giving Team USA a 41-33 lead. They held a 14-point lead after three quarters, going up 69-54 for the final 10 minutes of play. 

Steph Curry led Team USA out of the tunnel for pre-game warmups and was the first to make a shot for the home squad. Adjusting to a different ball, new dimensions and FIBA rules, Curry was off his game in the first half. Coming out of the break, Curry found his rhythm and had a packed house roaring.

Star power shined even brighter on the sidelines. President Barack Obama watched the entire game. Past stars of Team USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball were honored. Legends galore took in the first glimpse of what should be a memorable summer with more tests to come.

Here are three takeaways from Team USA’s exhibition win against Canada.

Steph show

An extremely slow start shooting the ball for the Americans promptly came to an end when Curry sank a 3-pointer off a pick-and-roll with Anthony Davis. Team USA was down 11-1 at the time, and there were only five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first quarter. 

Those three points were all Curry scored in the first half. Once the second half began, Curry started heating up.

Curry scored Team USA’s first nine points of the third quarter, first hitting a three right in front of longtime Warriors nemesis Dillon Brooks. The Golden State superstar then finished a smooth three-point play at the basket, posing on the ground for fans, and followed that up by splashing a three from left corner.  

With Team USA up 76-65 and a little over two minutes left in the game, Curry and James’ day was done. Curry played 19 minutes in the win, going 3 of 6 beyond the arc. He made his only 2-point attempt, as well as his lone free throw, giving him 15 points.

Steve’s starting five

Steve Kerr warned reporters on the first day of Team USA training that he will try multiple lineups and combinations before games begin to actually count in Paris. Kevin Durant’s absence to a calf strain he sustained before arriving in Las Vegas also threw a wrinkle into Kerr’s plans. The Warriors coach, as he often has for Golden State, decided to go small. 

Curry starting at point guard was a given. Same with LeBron James at one of the forward positions. Joining them was Joel Embiid at center, Devin Booker at shooting guard, and Jrue Holiday – a 6-foot-4 guard – at small forward as Kerr’s defensive menace. 

The first look of Kerr’s first starting five wasn’t great. Shots didn’t fall, especially from deep, and energy lacked early on. 

But a second unit that included the likes of Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Jayson Tatum, Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo got Team USA going. From then on, the starters joined them. The intensity ramped up, and this felt like far from an exhibition game. 

Maybe Holiday stays in the starting lineup. Kerr is sure to switch things up on the road to Paris. When Durant is healthy enough, it’s hard to see him coming off the bench.

No. 2 option? 

Age isn’t a factor or an obstacle to Edwards. The youngest player on a stacked roster at 22 years old already has said he sees himself as the No. 1 option, and played like it right when he first entered the game. His swagger matched his skills, smirking at the sidelines every time Edwards made a shot. 

There will be moments where the Minnesota Timberwolves star needs to be Kerr’s top dog, whether that’s coming off the bench or becoming a starter. And still, the most realistic outcome is the No. 1 option being some combination of the three faces who have ruled the last two decades of basketball: Curry, James or a healthy Durant

Really, though, Kerr can’t go wrong. He has options everywhere. Everybody is an All-Star. Scoring isn’t going to be an issue. 

The only problem Team USA can run into is creating enough chemistry on and off the court in time to win gold. Their next stop is leaving Las Vegas on Thursday morning for exhibition games in Abu Dhabi.

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