Russia has appeared strong in this tournament despite being without versatile forward Andrei Kirilenko. Their other former NBA player, Victor Kryhapa, has not been playing either. Their only loss, to Turkey, came as no surprise, as Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova, and the rest of the Turkish team has been great playing in their home country for this tournament. Sasha Kaun has been a bright spot for Russia, as well. He went late in the second round of the NBA draft, but has looked to be worth much more in play throughout. His lanky and gangly frame allows him to squirm his way for open looks. Thus far he is averaging 11.5 ppg.
This game against the United States will not prove to be as easy. Kevin Durant has appeared unstoppable at all points during this tournament. He’s only averaging 17 ppg, but could easily put up 30 if not for the blowouts. It will be up to Andrey Vorontsevich to slow down Kevin Durant, a task that will certainly prove to be too much for the Russian forward, who leads the Russians in rebounds and is fourth in scoring at 9.3 ppg. His 6’9” frame will give him the size to give Durant troubles when facing up, but his lateral footspeed will ultimately prove to be too much of a handicap.
The US has won their last three games by an average of 42.3 points per game. Indeed, since the scare against Brazil, there has not been a close game. Granted, Iran, Tunisia, and Angola aren’t exactly powerhouse squads, but the US has shown a great deal of resolve and focus In making sure none of these opponents have been without sniffing distance. Russia, while somewhat impressive on paper, will probably not give the US much of a match. Their win against Greece was impressive, but their only other quality opponent, Turkey, won. Moreover, their victories against the pushovers have not been decisive blowouts, but rather actually close games. This does not bode well for them facing the US, who have taken care of disposing their poor opponents in thrashing fashion.
Though it’s really difficult to get a gauge on this Russian team, I would have to say the US wins this game by between 18 and 26 points. As a fellow writer here on Maddux said, ultimately the margin of win in these blowouts is determined by how much Durant plays. There is the potential for a bigger blowout of the US team plays ruthlessly and does not let up in light of the blowout, however, but that is a variable that is always difficult to account for.
There is the possibility that the US gets complacent after these last three blowouts, but I don’t think captain Chauncey Billups, nor coach K, lets them lose their focus during an elimination round game. Ultimately, there’s just too much on the line, and for the US to come out and take Russia lightly would come as a surprise.
Prediction: US by 22, making us pretty close to the current point spread of 23.5. If you agree or disagree Bodog and Bookmaker both have betting lines posted for wagering on all the of the FIBA basketball games.