The Americans overcame an early 15-point deficit to score a comfortable 97-78 win over Australia. Kevin Durant led the charge with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Devin Booker chipped in 20 points for the Americans, who will be looking for their fourth straight Olympic title Saturday.
France didn’t have it so easy. They narrowly escaped a serious challenge from Luka Doncic and Slovenia as Nicolas Batum made a game-saving block in the final seconds to preserve a 90-89 victory. In the semifinal thriller, Nando de Colo (25 points) and Evan Fournier (23) paced the French offense.
Alarm bells sounded all over the United States with pre-tournament losses to Nigeria and Australia, then came a loss in the first game of the Olympics to France. All seems well know for the Americans; winning will do that. But this team will rely a little too heavily on the outside game, and they can have issues rebounding the basketball. With all that being said, the last four games for the American men have been won by a little over 30 points per game.
The Americans are deep and proved that in Thursday’s semi-final, four players (Durant, Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton) reached double figures in scoring and two others (Jayson Tatum and Zach LaVine) scored nine points.
The USA will have to have all hands on deck and playing well if they are to get revenge on a French team that, in the qualifying round, held Durant to just 10 points. Turnovers have also been a factor for the Americans, and they will need to keep the turnover count under ten.
De Colo, Fournier, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have given the French squad much offensive firepower in the backcourt and on the wing. Still, center Rudy Gobert figures to play a critical role against a U.S. team with a limited number of impact players in the post. If Gobert has a big game, a repeat of the first game between these two teams is highly possible.
Gobert (7’1”), who tallied nine points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks against Slovenia, will probably initially match up with Bam Adebayo (6’9”). Still, his presence could force the Americans to use JaVale McGee (7’0”) more frequently for the defensive boost, slowing the U.S. offense. If the Americans go to McGee, that will not be a good thing and limits the USA options and would more than likely make this game a game played at the pace France is more comfortable with.
The USA has struggled at times, but I think they will put forth a great effort and pull out the Gold in a very close contest. USA 95 France 91
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