Team USA is absolutely stacked at point guard.
Stephen Curry is playing off the ball, and Damian Lillard didn’t even make the team. That leaves Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose battling to start in the World Cup.
Both have allies on the coaching staff. Irving played for Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, and Rose plays for Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls.
So who will win the position battle?
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Kyrie Irving will start opposite Goran Dragic at point guard Tuesday night when Team USA plays Slovenia in its final tuneup game leading into the FIBA World Cup.
But Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, in tabbing Irving as his starter against the Dragic-led Slovenians, told ESPN.com that one option under consideration is letting Irving and Derrick Rose trade off as the starter throughout the tournament, which opens Saturday in Bilbao with the Yanks facing Finland.
“We’ll see as thing goes on,” Krzyzewski said after Monday’s two-hour practice. “We might alternate ’em. Both of them are going to play significant minutes.”
I wouldn’t really read much into Irving starting against Slovenia. Andre Drummond and DeMar DeRozan received DNP-CDs in a friendly against Brazil, and that seemed to foreshadow them getting cut. But both made the roster.
It still seems 50-50 between Irving and Rose once the World Cup begins, and I trust Krzyzewski that both will receive plenty of playing time. There’s probably no wrong answer when it comes to picking a starter.
Team USA’s backcourt is ridiculously strong regardless.
LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.
This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:
Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.
LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”
Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.
There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.
Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.
LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.
Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.
Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.
The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.
Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.
During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.
We now know that’s not true.
According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.
Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.
Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.
Trust. The. Process.