Popovich Has to Love Play From Olympians in Finals

The happiest basketball coach in the world right now should be Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer, since he’s one win away from the NBA title. The second-happiest should be USA Basketball’s Gregg Popovich. Consider what Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker did in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday night: They combined for 96 points, all getting between 27 and 40. They were in top form, which was great news for USA Basketball.

Game 6 of the finals is Tuesday in Milwaukee, when the Bucks can win their first title in 50 years. Game 7, if necessary, is Thursday in Phoenix. And when the series is over Holiday, Middleton and Booker will trade their green, white and orange uniforms for red, white and blue at the Tokyo Olympics. They all say they’re going to honor the commitment to play, even though the finals will have just ended and then a flight halfway around the world awaits.

The Americans have not exactly been a high-octane steamrolling machine in their Tokyo tune-ups so far, with a 1-2 record in three exhibitions in Las Vegas and now coming off some roster revamping following the virus-related withdrawal of Bradley Beal and an injury-related withdrawal by Kevin Love. Beal and Love are out, Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee take their place.