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Home >> News >> Team Usas Second Unit Revels In Defensive Mentality

team usa's second unit revels in defensive mentality

Date: 8/8/2016 6:02:16 PM

his original starters -- kyrie irving, klay thompson, kevin durant, carmelo anthony and demarcus cousins -- in the first game of pool play.

that's a potent mix offensively. and against china, it's more than good enough on defense too. but the evolving second unit is where the u.s. can really turn things up defensively.

on saturday and probably for the foreseeable future, that second unit consisted of kyle lowry, demar derozan, jimmy butler, paul george and either deandre jordan or draymond green at center. that's a lot of length, a lot of versatility and a bunch of guys who have played on multiple top-10 defenses in the nba.

"when they came in, it looked like there were seven guys on the court," krzyzewski said after saturday's triumph. "their lateral quickness is so good. they don't have a position. they can switch everything and they have great attitudes. they want to do that."

with the exception of the six games george played off the bench in april of 2015 in returning from his leg injury, the guys on that second unit have started every nba game they've played for at least the last three years. so when they come in midway or late in the first quarter, they're itching to get going. and that energy shows up on the defensive end of the floor.

"i think it's obvious, you're able to see it, just how aggressive we come out," derozan said. "it's more so defensively, and we try to feed off that, get stops, run, and try to build the lead."

"with us playing short stints, it gives us the opportunity to go 100 percent, especially on the defensive end," derozan added. "once we get stops, everybody on this team is a hell of a scorer, so it's dangerous once we start to get stops and get out."

"that's our identity," demarcus cousins said. "that's something that's preached on the daily. that's something we've accepted as a team. we're just trying to go out there and perform. every time we come in, that's how we want to get our game started, defensively."

it's also how they can gain separation when the team's biggest stars are on the bench. right now, against opponents that won't be around after pool play, everything is working. but when the competition gets tougher, some things will work better than others. and that second-unit defense could be a difference maker in a critical moment.

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