Now in the heart of its exhibition schedule and tune-up ahead of the 2016 Rio Summer Games, the United States men’s basketball team seeks another victory over China in Tuesday night’s showdown at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The atmosphere should be far different for the squad’s leading scorer Kevin Durant as well as new Golden State Warriors teammate Draymond Green than the pair received in Los Angeles during Team USA’s 106-57 drubbing of the Chinese on Sunday.
Boos from the Staples Center crowd rained down on Durant, who chose to sign with the Warriors earlier this month and left the Oklahoma City Thunder after nine seasons, in order to team up with Green and fellow U.S. guard Klay Thompson after losing to Golden State in the Western Conference finals last season.
But at the always raucous Oracle with its loyal fans, and with Durant leading Team USA at 21 points per contest so far, the four-time scoring champion should receive praise as his new city sees him on the court for the first time since signing a two-year, $54 million contract with the Bay Area squad.
Still, Durant, along with a host of NBA stars that make up 2016’s defending gold medal squad, are firmly focused on preparations for the Olympics in Brazil as well as finding the right balance with players who typically lead rather than fill roles.
Considering the U.S. is coming off two powerful displays against China and Argentina, a 111-74 blowout with Durant netting 23 points, head coach Mike Krzyzewski will undoubtedly continue to tinker with his lineup and see who will start the Olympics group opener on Aug. 6 against China yet again.
Through two games, only New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has started each contest, and its possible Krzyzewski expands the roles of Green, Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, and former Warrior turned Dallas Maverick Harrison Barnes. Those are the only three players yet to start in the exhibition phase.
Yet, until the real tournament starts (following two more exhibitions against Venezuela and Nigeria), Krzyzewski has said he’s happy with what he’s seen so far. Team USA is averaging better than 108 points and 49 percent shooting from the floor, while notching 26.5 assists and an incredible 13.0 steals and 4.0 blocks per game.
Start Time: Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBA TV
Live Stream: Team USA Facebook