Game time: Friday, August 10th @ 12 PM EST
Spread: USA -25.5
The US and Argentina both took care of business against Australia and Brazil respectively and the two squads will square off Friday at 4 PM EST in North Greenwich Arena. The winner will go on to the gold medal game; the loser heads to fight it out for the bronze.
But does any one really expect anything other than another U.S. victory? The Americans covered the 33 point spread set by Vegas oddsmakers, winning by 33 exactly, as LeBron James notched a triple double and Kobe Bryant went on a fourth quarter assault en route to his team high 20 points.
Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant chipped in 31 points combined, as well, and Nets point guard Deron Williams came up with 18 points. It was a strong effort by a team that has had no expectations other than to win, a lot.
Australian point guard Patty Mills went off for 26, despite my warning that the trio of US point guards would be able to slow the NBA reserve. Mills is now priming himself for a more prominent role in the NBA after this exhibition in the Olympics. It’s similar to what Luis Scola did in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, as after that concluded he went on to have his best career year in the NBA.
That aside, we look forward to seeing what the Argentine squad can do with the stacked US roster. They didn’t have much luck in the first go-around, as they lost by 29 despite shooting 50% from the floor. Six Argentines reached double figures, but that scoring (97 points) was not nearly enough to counteract the huge game of Kevin Durant (28 points) and the five other US players who scored in double figures.
As to how Argentina plans to quell that dominance is anyone’s guess. The Americans already know that stopping Manu Ginobili is the key on defense, but beyond that, it only really requires slowing Luis Scola to beat Argentina. The oddsmakers have set the spread at 25.5 points, which is slightly less than the 29 that the US won by last time, but this is a medal round game so maybe Argentina will play a little harder. I’m not sure if that even matters, but just because everyone in these Olympics knows it’s the USA’s gold to lose, so this game likely won’t be much closer than 20.
I know last time I said I thought ARG would be within striking distance, predicting them to more than cover the spread, but our past experience shows us there is no reason to expect that this time around with a motivated Kobe Bryant and LBJ throwing up triple doubles.