We have reached the semifinals of the men’s basketball tournament at the Olympics. There are just four teams remaining, and the winners of the next two matches will play for the gold medal. The action gets underway with the USA vs. Australia at 12:15 a.m. ET on Thursday and wraps up with Slovenia vs. France at 7:00 a.m. ET.
DraftKings Sportsbook is loaded with wagers for these contests, so let’s break down some of my favorites.
Australia vs. United States
It feels wrong to bet against the United States, but I think it’s the correct play. They have looked much better recently, beating Iran, the Czech Republic and Spain in each of their past three contests, but this team hasn’t exactly been a juggernaut. They lost to Australia and Nigeria during the exhibition season and dropped their first game of the Olympics against France.
Australia represents arguably the toughest test the USA will face at the Olympics. They’re a veteran squad who have been playing lights out all tournament. They’ve yet to lose a single game, and they demolished Argentina by 38 points in the quarterfinals. Argentina entered the Olympics No. 4 in the FIBA rankings, so that was an extremely impressive victory.
The Americans should still be able to secure a victory in this contest, but asking them to win by more than 12 could be a bit much.
Slovenia vs. France
We all knew Luka Doncic was a good basketball player, but he’s taken his game to another level with Slovenia. He has been an absolute wrecking ball, starting with the qualifying tournament in Lithuania. Slovenia won their two group play matches by a margin of 85 points, and then they beat Venezuela and Lithuania by 39 total points to earn their spot in Tokyo. They haven’t slowed down against tougher competition in the Olympics, winning all four of their games. Their only win that came by less than 18 points was against Spain, who entered the Olympics ranked No. 2 in the world by FIBA.
They still managed to beat Spain by eight points in the preliminary round, and I see no reason why they can’t beat France. France is a good team — they’re also 4-0 during the Olympics — but they simply have no one who is of Doncic’s caliber. If Doncic can keep doing what he’s done all tournament, I expect Slovenia to be playing for the gold medal.
It might feel counterintuitive to bet on Slovenia and also take the under on Doncic, but both things can happen at the same time. It’s already happened in three of Slovenia’s four wins, with Doncic scoring 25 points or fewer vs. Japan, Spain and Germany in each of his past three contests.
It’s important to remember that these international basketball games are merely 40 minutes. That means Doncic will likely play 35 minutes at most, and it’s simply hard to score at least 29 points in such little playing time. France also has a strong defense, anchored by Rudy Gobert, so I expect Doncic to have a more well-rounded stat line.
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