The penultimate day of the Olympics will see medal matches in multiple sports, including the best national basketball team in the world, two of the best teams in soccer continuing their contemporary battle as well as a place in history for Egypt in handball.
Odds Shark breaks down each of these games, including the men’s basketball final between a resurgent USA team, which starts as huge favorites to take out yet another gold medal at the event, against France.
USA were stunned after the tournament opener but have come storming back into the competition ever since. Even in the quarter final against Spain, and the semi final against Australia, USA had conceded an early lead but were no match for its opponents in the second half. Considering USA is the best team in this competition, massively favorable odds of -834 for USA are fair.
News and Notes
Kevin Durant was red hot in USA’s semi final against Australia, putting up 23 points in a little over 30 minutes on the court. He was 9 of 12 from two-point range while struggling a tad from distance, going 1 of 7. Devin Booker was solid as well, with 20 points. Together, they combined for the majority of the work that led to USA’s 97-78 victory in the semi.
“We knew Australia would come out fast and hit us with a nice punch,” Durant said. “We know that teams want to get us down early, see how we respond. A lot of these guys got continuity for years and years so they know how to play with each other. I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to fold early. We stuck with it, stuck with our principles, made a couple of switches on defence.”
Since USA’s tournament-opening defeat to France, USA’s lowest margin of victory has been 14 points in its 95-81 victory against Spain in the quarters. With a gold medal at stake, Team USA will not be beaten easily in this game.
In an iconic moment at this Olympics, Nicolas Batum executed a behind-the-back backboard block at the buzzer to end Slovenia’s hopes of a gold medal. France eventually held on for a 90-89 victory to set up a gold-medal clash against the best in the world. France is the only team in this event to remain unbeaten so far, having won all its five games to date.
“I have been in the Olympics twice and I have been hurt twice. I have dreamed of playing in the Final my whole life. I discovered the Olympics in 1996. I watched the Dream Team and it was after that I followed the NBA. I always dreamed of playing in this type of game. I knew that I didn't have a good game on offense, but I had to make this play for my team to take them to the Final and I did it,” Batum said after the win.
Betting Pick: USA Total Points: Over 94.5 (-112)
USA is the second-highest scoring team at the Olympics so far, with an average of 101.4 points per game. It also has the highest field goal percentage (50.7 percent). From three-point range, USA is unmatched at the Olympics, converting 41 percent of its attempts. These are all reliable metrics to suggest that USA should ease past 95 points, even in a final of the Olympics.
The pre-tournament favorites have made their way to the final to face each other in a winner-takes-gold match. As such, there are no clear and apparent favorites between these two teams because they have both been excellent right through this tournament. Brazil will begin as very slight favorites (-120) to win in regulation time, but that might move towards even money as this final draws closer.
News and Notes
Brazil have been simply outstanding through this competition. Even though they were unable to find a goal through regulation as well as extra time, Brazil were too good in the penalty shootout, which ensured their progress into the final of this event.
"We are to be congratulated for the game we played. We took no risks, we were solid. We looked for the goal all the time. The result, to go through on penalties, in my opinion, crowned the team that tried all the time to attack, to qualify in regular playing time,” Brazil coach Andre Jardine said.
Spain have also been a standout team through the Olympics, particularly defensively, a characteristic shared with the Spain senior team as well. Like Brazil, Spain too have conceded just three goals at the Olympics. They were solid against Japan, applying pressure through that match, which eventually resulted in a breakthrough via a sensational strike from Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio with his left foot.
Spain were beaten in the semi final of Euro 2020 but have already progressed past that obstacle here. To beat the defending champions, they will need to put in one more sensational performance. "They are a quality side, we know that and we know that if we are going to win the gold medal, we are going to have to play the best teams here," Eric Garcia said.
Betting Pick: Both Teams to Score: Yes (+120)
The Japanese scored seven times in their three round-robin games but haven’t scored since. The Mexicans might have a chip on their shoulders after dropping the group-stage game to Japan earlier in the tournament. I will take the added motivation for Mexico and bet the slight underdogs to win in regulation. Take Mexico +165.
Spain will begin as fairly heavy favorites to take the bronze medal when they face Egypt on Saturday. Spain have been one of the better teams in handball over the last few years, as evidenced from their higher ranking in the men’s section. Egypt have been worthy challengers but have not been able to break the drought at this event.
News and Notes
Spain have lost just two games during this Olympics: a 36-31 defeat to France and a heart-breaking 27-23 loss to Denmark in the semis. Spain had even overcome a resurgent Sweden team 34-33 in the quarter final, but that effort took plenty out of the team physically. Mikkel Hansen led Denmark with 12 goals in the semi final to ensure that Spain did not have much of a chance down the stretch.
Spain’s offense has performed admirably through the tournament, scoring at least 25 goals in their first six matches but Denmark’s defense snapped that streak in the semis. A bronze medal would probably be fair for a team that has been more consistent over a longer duration of time.
Egypt can make history on Saturday if they can get on the podium but it won’t be an easy task against one of the better teams in the world. Like Spain, Egypt too have lost two matches at this Olympics so far, including a demoralizing 27-23 defeat to France in the semis. Its only other defeat was to the other finalist, Denmark, earlier in the competition 32-27.
Betting Pick: Spain -112
Spain has not lost a game to Egypt yet in men’s handball. That will be morale-boosting for a team that has been hit hard by the loss of a tight semi final. While Egypt will certainly compete, it seems like Spain’s offense might have a bit too much firepower. Spain could score 30 again, like they have done in five of their previous seven matches against Egypt, which should be enough for bronze.