United States vs. France Pick – United States -12 (-110)
After a few tumultuous weeks, USA Basketball is right where it expected to be before the Tokyo Olympics began. On Friday, the Americans will square off against France with a gold medal on the line.
The fact that both teams have advanced this far is hardly a surprise given the way both teams have played of late. It hasn’t always been a breeze for the US, but, in the end, their overwhelming star power has carried them to the brink of another Olympic gold medal. The Americans defeated Spain and Australia in the knockout rounds in order to advance to the final.
Of course, they know winning gold won’t be easy. In order to do so, they’ll have to beat a French team that has won each of the last two meetings between the teams. France upset Team USA to win the 2019 World Cup before knocking off the Americans in another upset to begin these Olympic Games. The French ended the Americans’ 25-game Olympic winning streak with an 83-76 win in the first round of the group stage on July 26.
However, oddsmakers aren’t too concerned about the United States’ recent struggles against France. Team USA has opened as a double-digit favorite to get their revenge and win the gold medal for the fourth consecutive Olympics on Friday night. BetOnline has Team USA listed as a 12-point favorite in a game with an over/under of 175.5 points.
Durant Carries Team USA Past Australia
As has been the case on numerous occasions in this tournament, the Americans looked vulnerable in their last game against Australia. Team USA fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half of Wednesday’s semifinal clash against Australia before Kevin Durant fueled the comeback.
The Americans initially struggled to deal with Australia’s defensive gameplan before they started to adjust. Team USA missed their first 10 three-point attempts as they continued their trend of struggling offensively early in games. Durant started to force the issue with most of his teammates struggling, and he ultimately finished the first half with seven buckets in the first half.
Three straight games scoring 23+
The first 🇺🇸 #USABMNT athlete to pass the 400 point mark in the Olympics
After falling down by as many as 15, the US scored the last eight points of the second quarter before beginning the second half with a 12-0 run. Durant converted a series of difficult looks right over the top of Australia’s defense before Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, and Jrue Holiday closed out the third quarter with a flurry.
Holiday and Draymond Green were also giving the Aussies plenty of issues defensively. After Australia made half of their first 26 shots of the game, they then endured a brutal 3-for-16 stretch as the game began to slip away. After trailing by three points at halftime, the US enjoyed a 19-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Durant scored 23 points of the game and didn’t get off the bench in the fourth quarter. Australia wasn’t able to rally from there on their way to a 97-78 defeat. Australia will face Slovenia with a bronze medal on the line on Saturday.
France’s Perfect Run
As of now, France is the only team in the men’s field without a defeat. France swept their three games against the USA, Czech Republic, and Iran in the group phase before wins over Italy and Slovenia in the knockout rounds. France picked up a nine-point win over the Italians before pulling out a narrow 90-89 win over Slovenia early Thursday morning.
It wasn’t easy to get past a Slovenian team that had been a perfect 16-0 with Luka Doncic on the roster. The game was a back-and-forth thriller throughout, and France was ultimately able to get through to the gold medal game thanks to a game-saving block from Nicolas Batum shortly before time expired. Batum came out of nowhere to swat Klemen Prepelic’s attempt in the game’s waning seconds.
Doncic, of course, finished with a triple-double, but France was able to emerge victorious thanks to a solid all-around effort. Nando de Colo and Evan Fournier each topped 20 points for the French, while Rudy Gobert supplied his standard quality rim protection down low. France got a bit lucky in this one, as Doncic’s offensive rhythm was clearly hampered after he suffered an apparent left wrist injury after a collision in the third quarter.
Still, France fully deserves to be in a position to win gold for the first time at the Olympics. This has been the best team in the tournament on aggregate, and it only makes sense that the Americans will have to get through them in order to win gold once again. France is the only team in the world that has given Team USA issues over the past several years.
What’s the Best Bet?
Clearly, recent history tells us that the Americans can’t afford to take the French lightly. Team USA certainly has enough offensive firepower to bounce back if they happen to get off to yet another ragged start offensively, but that’s certainly not an ideal outcome given France’s overall quality.
With Gobert, Batum, Fournier, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Vincent Poirier, and Frank Ntilikina, the French have no shortage of NBA talent. De Colo has also been a star in Europe after a brief NBA stint of his own. In the first matchup, France gave the small USA frontline issues by pairing Gobert with Poirier in a double-center alignment.
USA will be wiser to that potential lineup this time around, but it still remains to be seen whether the USA can successfully combat it. Green and Bam Adebayo are both relatively undersized, so there’s a chance Gregg Popovich will resort to JaVale McGee at some point in this one.
Still, the Americans have looked a lot better of late than they did the last time they saw France. I expect Popovich to make the necessary adjustments in order to get his team across the finish line. It’s not a comfortable bet, but I like the Americans to cover the spread on their way to another Olympic gold medal.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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