We’re down to the final four on the Olympic hardwood, and we’re seeing a changing of the guard happening before our eyes. Eliminated are the Olympic basketball mainstays like Spain and Argentina, swapped out for upstart countries Australia and Slovenia – who join France and the United States in the home stretch of their gold medal quests.
Australia gets a chance to stake its claim as a national basketball powerhouse, as they take on the United States – who they’ve never won a non-exhibition match over in their history (0-8). In the later game, Slovenia will look to ride one of the NBA’s brightest young stars in Luka Doncic to a berth in the gold medal game with a win over the French.
I’ve got a best bet for the USA vs. Australia game, and the lines are moving rapidly, so make sure to shop around and grab the best price you can find.
USA vs. Australia
I had this all written up and ready to go at -11, but by the time I was ready to publish, the line had shot down to -11.5 (-120). By the time this article is posted, I’m anticipating Team USA laying 12 points at around -110, so that’s the line I’ll use. It would be a stay away from me at anything higher than -12.5.
Hats off to the Boomers. They’ve firmly planted themselves on the international basketball map. As I mentioned in the open, they’ve got a shot to cement themselves as one of the Olympic powerhouses moving forward. Australia is a perfect 4-0 in the Tokyo Games, and they’ve won three of their four games by 13 or more points, save a three-point victory over the Italians. They even beat the United States 91-83 in an exhibition just a few weeks ago. But, as great as the Australians have played, they haven’t played a team quite like this iteration of the United States squad. It’s a completely different team – both in personnel and approach – than the one that took the floor in the aforementioned exhibition match.
Since Team USA dropped their exhibition contest with Australia, they’ve added Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday – who played the second and third-most minutes against Spain – and Khris Middleton – who played the fourth-most minutes in the previous game against the Czech Republic. Safe to say, these are important players for Team USA, and I don’t think their contributions are being factored into the line enough.
Additionally, the United States completely changed their approach at halftime against Spain, and I expect them to carry that momentum over into this game against the Australians. The reliance on the three-ball has been an obvious and glaring weakness for the Americans. Possessions were too short, and they were settling for contested threes when the team’s true advantage was around the rim.
This was exemplified against Spain; the teams were tied at half, and the USA was a lowly 4/17 from deep. Team USA relied heavily on ball movement and getting into the lane in the second half, which opened up many more open three-point attempts. They shot 9/15 from three in the second half and steamrolled Spain 52-38 across the final two quarters.
Kevin Durant: 29 PTS
Jayson Tatum: 13 PTS
Jrue Holiday: 12 PTS
Ricky Rubio: 38 PTS pic.twitter.com/3LIYUpaLM7
— NBA (@NBA) August 3, 2021
Look for that energy and momentum to carry over right out of the gate against Australia because, quite frankly, the Australians don’t have the talent to keep up with this United States bunch, especially if they fall into an early hole. Ricky Rubio scored 38 points against the US in the quarterfinals, and Spain still lost by 14 and didn’t cover despite getting 13.5 points. The Australians don’t have anyone, including Patty Mills, who can drop 40 on the United States. They should have no problem running away with this one in the second half, so I’m laying the 12 points with confidence.
Pick: USA (-12) vs. Australia
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