FIBA World Championship Game Preview With Free Picks

The US managed a 15 point win against Lithuania.  My prediction was 9, and it would have been 9 or even closer if not for the US shutting down Linas Klieza, who has had his way with everyone else.  Durant also had a monster game with 38 points, and Odom notched a double double (13 pts, 10 rebs).  Turkey will present a different set of problems.  They have a great perimeter game with Turkoglu leading the offense, and can also dump it inside to Ilyasova or Asik.  Ilyasova, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, is leading the Turks in scoring at 14.3 ppg, and will probably be the defensive assignment of either Durant or Iguodala.  It would make sense for it to be Iguodala, so Durant can be saved for offensive duties.  Coach K has been playing his bench liberally, but I would be surprised to see Durant play any less than 35 minutes in the championship game.  He has been far and away the best player for the US and whether or not they can win the gold medal depends on how well he performs.

It will be up to Odom to slow down Omer Asik, who leads the Turks in rebounding.  Odom will have to do his best to keep Asik off the offensive glass.   Asik, truthfully, could thrive in the NBA because he is tough enough to battle the bigger centers inside.  The US might end up playing Tyson Chandler a few more minutes to counter Asik’s size.  Playing Tyson Chandler doesn’t bode well for the US because he is an offensive liability.  When Chandler plays, his man often wanders on defense, as it isn’t necessary to cover him on most plays.  It will be an interesting development to see how Coach K handles the minutes at center.

Turkey just survived what was only their second close game (the other being a freak occurrence in a two point victory over Puerto Rico) in beating Serbia by one point.  So what I am getting at here is that Turkey hasn’t often been tested in close games against quality opponents.  That might work against them versus a team that is so good at closing out games.  Who would you rather take a clutch shot for your team, Hedo Turkoglu or Kevin Durant?  But will the game even be that close?

It’s really tough to gauge this one.  I am going to say that the US wins this match by between 6 and 9 points.  Durant will ultimately prove to be too much for Turkey (as he has for every team so far) and no one has really found a way to slow him down.  His speed combined with his length makes him so difficult for opponents to cover, because he can get his shot off at any time.  With Durant on the court for most of the game, the US will be at their best.  Derrick Rose must rebound from a poor game against Lithuania.  He played only 12 minutes, as Westbrook assumed most of the point guard duties.  It would be surprising to see the US go with the three guard lineup that they did in previous games, due to Turkey’s length.

Prediction:  US by 7

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