U.S. men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski knew he wasn’t going to need his big three of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade to beat Germany this morning in the 106-57 win, so he gave them a rest for most of the game.
Instead, Carmelo Anthony, Tayshaun Prince and Carlos Boozer were the story for most of the game in receiving rare playing time opportunities. Coach K looked for a number of things out of his bench in trying to figure out their roles for the medal round.
The biggest task went to Carmelo Anthony who had to guard Dirk Nowitzki one-on-one to show that he can defend the opposing team’s power forwards. Anthony made his case, giving Nowitzki a hard time offensively with 14 points on 4-fo-10 shooting and 1-for-4 from 3-point range.
Anthony added a game-high two steals while grabbing six rebounds to the effort.
Nowitzki sat at the end of the third quarter as the U.S. continued pounding Germany (1-4) in every aspect of the game. Prince had an impressive showing of his own for Team USA (5-0) on the glass after playing more minutes than he had in previous pool play games. Prince finished with six rebounds and a block in 21 minutes.
Prince likely won’t get much playing time in the medal round unless the U.S. takes a commanding lead into the fourth quarter but should still be valuable as a role player with his defense.
Dwayne Wade played under 20 minutes for the first time in pool play but still showed some great shooting with 10 points on 67 percent shooting.
However the player who made the most of his time was Carlos Boozer. He played only 10 minutes but was very efficient in the post with 3-for-4 shooting, resulting in six points and six rebounds.
Boozer was a major force offensively, allowing Team USA to get several scoring opportunities with his offensive rebounding. Germany struggled with defensive rebounding allowing the U.S. to outrebound the team by 15.
One of the few downsides is U.S. specialized shooter Michael Redd. He missed all four shots from behind the arc and shot only 1-for-9 in 13 minutes. Team USA will need better shooting from Redd as the Americans face tough competition in the medal round.
It appears that not much will change from Coach K’s nine-man rotation but the performance from Boozer and Prince this morning gave him some other options going into Wednesday’s game against Australia.
Anthony will also provide a viable option against deeper front courts, probably backing up Chris Bosh when Coach K wants to go with a smaller lineup.