Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker

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Celtics missed free throws crucial in USA’s loss to France

Nick Friar
September 11, 2019 - 9:18 am

Missed free throws. They’ll always come back to bite you. Celtics fans know this all too well, and the problem permeated into Team USA’s 89-79 loss to France on Wednesday.

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Marcus Smart — for all of his heroics in the game — missed four free throws. Kemba Walker is typically a strong free-throw shooter. He missed two big ones late in the fourth. The pair got to the line eight times each, accounting for 16 of Team USA’s 21 chances at the stripe. But those opportunities don’t mean much if the shots aren’t going down. Harrison Barnes was the only other player on the team to miss a free throw. He was 1-for-2 from the line.

Walker had a rough game from start to finish. He finished 2-for-9 from the field and had four turnovers. France applied a lot of on-ball pressure against the Celtics guard early. He did not respond well.

Outside of the missed free throws, Smart played very well. Of the people who had to guard Evan Fournier, he was the only one who could hang.

Smart scored 11 on 3 of 5 shooting (1-for-3 from three) and, again, showed he can create contact in big moments. He just needs to finish at the line (4-for-8).

Next to Donovan Mitchell’s 29-point performance, Jaylen Brown may have been the biggest surprise — in a good way — for Team USA. Rudy Gobert was dominating the U.S. down low and Brown was the only guy who could contain him.

Brown’s already shown he has the ability to be a versatile defender for the Celtics, but he kicked it up a notch with Team USA.

Jayson Tatum (ankle) did not play, but was expected to return for the next game had the U.S. advanced.