With Derrick Rose returning to the United Center, tonight’s USA Basketball exhibition against Brazil was much more than merely a meaningless contest, especially for those in attendance.
Although Derrick Rose scored just 7 points, his presence on the court was obvious as he blew past his defenders, getting to the basket in just seconds. Some questioned whether or not Derrick Rose would be able to get back to his “old self”, meaning his explosiveness, and I think those questions were answered tonight. Derrick Rose had two very memorable layups, one of which was a buzzer beating floater, and he certainly looked confident on the court.
Brazil never really gained much of a lead in the game, but they did keep the game competitive throughout three quarters. Nene looked solid, along with Tiago Splitter and Varejao, but Brazil’s guards simply couldn’t keep up with Rose, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and James Harden. Team USA’s guards got to the basket at will, and once they drew defenders inside, their outside shooting began to open up.
Team USA’s penetration also opened up looks for Anthony Davis, who finished the game with an impressive 20 points and 4 blocks. In my opinion, Davis looked like the best player on the floor tonight, and at this point I don’t think that should come as a surprise. Davis overwhelmed Brazil’s bigs with his athleticism, but he also knocked down a few 15 foot jump shots. Anthony Davis’ ability to get stops and get beat the defense up the floor will be key for Team USA as much of their success will come from their transition game. Team USA’s guards found Anthony Davis on a few fast-break dunks, and although DeMarcus Cousins was out tonight, they still picked up a dominant win over a very solid Brazil team.
USA will continue to work out their rotations during these exhibition games, but overall, I thought they played well tonight. Rose looked good, while Anthony Davis dominated in every aspect of the game. For Washington Wizards fans, it was also nice to see Nene play well against some of the best players in the world.
Team USA will take on the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night. We’re just two weeks away from the FIBA Basketball World Cup.