2020 Tokyo Olympics men's basketball semi-finals best bets: Team USA set for another tough test

Team USA players Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green
Photo of Germantas Kneita

Germantas Kneita

Olympics· 1 month ago

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As most Lithuanians, I started watching basketball from the age of six. Im based out in London and played basketball at the University of Lincoln here in the UK. I had always had an interest in the NBA but things really took off in the summer of 2010. That year Linas Kleiza led Lithuania to 3rd place at the World Championships and signed with the Toronto Raptors to replace the departing Chris Bosh. I've been a Raptors fan from that day and I've not missed a game since. I love nothing more than a bet and tend to focus on NBA and soccer matches.

The semi-finals of the men’s basketball at the Olympics are here with four heavyweight nations set to collide. NBA superstars like Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, and Rudy Gobert will be taking the floor, looking to secure a medal for their teams. The Pickswise +500 futures best bet could be set to come in too if Slovenia and the USA advance to the gold medal game so that certainly is something to keep tabs on for those who tailed.

But in the meantime, let’s take a look at the selections for each of the games.

USA vs Australia Olympics men’s basketball prediction: Australia +11.5 (-110)

The USA was able to cover a 12-point spread in their game against Spain thanks to a Kevin Durant dunk in the closing seconds, but things are bound to get tougher here. Australia is undefeated at the tournament and was able to beat Team USA in the run-up to the Olympics with a 91-83 win. The USA has also had issues slowing down guards with Ricky Rubio taking full advantage in the quarter-final, dropping 38 points. They will now have to contend with another high-scorer here in Patty Mills. He is averaging 20.8 points per game, shooting 41.7% from deep. He was able to score 22 against the USA before the tournament and looks set to torment them again. As a team, Australia is second only to the USA for 3-point percentage, shooting 40 percent on the tournament, which could help them stay within striking distance.

The most impressive feature of this Australia team is their defense. They were able to hold Argentina to just 59 points in their last game, allowing just 11 points in two of the quarters. Only Italy has been able to score more than 80 points against them so far, and it’s clear to see why, considering the defenders on this roster. Matisse Thybulle gained plaudits as one of the best wing defenders in the NBA this season. Mathew Dellavedova has caused elite NBA guards’ problems in the past whilst Dante Exum and Jock Landale provide length, versatility, and athleticism at their positions. Having recently beaten the USA, expect the Australians to be fearless here, and keep this game competitive until the closing moments.

France vs Slovenia Olympics men’s basketball prediction: Slovenia -2.5 (-105)

Luka Doncic of Slovenia celebrates during the 2020 FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament final match between Lithuania and Slovenia in Kaunas, Lithuania, July 4, 2021.

CREDIT – Sipa USA

Luka Doncic is 17-0 when playing for the Slovenian national team and that looks likely to continue here in the semi-final. Slovenia progressed here after a comfortable 24-point win against Germany, with their 8-point win over Spain marking the only game that they have participated in so far in the Olympics that was decided by single digits. They are the highest-scoring team at the tournament, averaging a staggering 105 points per game. Slovenia attempts more shots per game than any other team and that higher pace could trouble France, who tend to rely on Rudy Gobert and Moustapha Fall to anchor their defense. If Slovenia can beat them down the floor, they could put up big numbers once again.

France should have real trouble keeping pace with this offense. Gobert put in a huge performance against Italy but with Mike Tobey on the interior here, he should have a much tougher time. Tobey and Doncic are the two leading rebounders at the Olympics so second-chance opportunities should be hard to come by for the French big men. Evan Fournier has been leading the scoring for France, averaging a touch over 18 points per game, but is unlikely to outscore Doncic here, who is leading the competition in scoring. Nando De Colo has struggled in the last two games while Nicolas Batum has only managed to score double-digit points once this tournament. With Gobert potentially limited, France lacks the firepower to take the win. Back Slovenia to cover the spread.

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