Although they have not yet left the United States, NBA champions Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns may start with the United States against France at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. Assistant coach Steve Kerr made the announcement on Thursday morning (US time) on a conference call held by the US Basketball team in Tokyo.
Holiday, Middleton, and Booker will arrive in Japan on Saturday with US Scout Jeff Van Gundy, and then all three will participate in the upcoming games. If Kerr is right, then the three NBA finalists are likely to play alongside Bam Adebayo and Kevin Durant, although this is a guessing game at the moment, what the American rotation will look like.
This is the weirdest Olympic year when the US team faces a lack of practice dates, especially against the French team, led by NBA defender of the year Rudy Gobert, and they also defeated the US team when they last time played the World Cup in China during FIBA 2019.
The Americans will play against France at 8:00 am Eastern time on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are free, then they’ll play against Iran at 12:40 pm on Wednesday, and then rest for two more days before facing the Czech Republic at 8:00 am Eastern time on Saturday, July 31, Eastern Time. There are two major changes in the list: Due to the COVID agreement, Keldon Johnson replaced Bradley Beal, and Javalle McGee replaced the retired Kevin Love.
During the training camp in Las Vegas, a quarter of the players were unable to play because the NBA Finals coincided with preparations for the Olympics, and the COVID agreement prevented Zac LaVine from traveling to Japan with seven teammates for a few days. Due to the COVID problem, their match with Australia has also been canceled. If the ball climbs against France, it is unlikely that the Americans will have a complete 12-person training course.
As the game progresses, how short Popovich’s rotation time will remain is yet to be seen, but it can be assumed that Holiday will share possession of the ball with Damian Lillard and, LaVine and Booker as offensive guards. Durant, Draymond Green, and Jayson Tatum will serve as forwards, while McGee will assist Adebayo at the center.