Croatia vs. Spain Men’s Basketball Preview
Where: Carioca Arena 1 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Sunday, August 7, 6:00 PM ET
Line: Croatia (+9.5) vs. Spain (-9.5); total 148.5 – view all men’s Olympic basketball lines
TV Broadcast: NBCSN
Writer’s Pick: Croatia to cover (+9.5)
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Offensive Edge – Spain (-9.5)
When Croatia does double, Spain’s capable perimeter shooters – Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez, and Nikola Mirotic – can all rain fire from beyond the arc.
The Spanish, who are -135 favorites to win Group B, also have the distinct advantage at point guard. They can go three-deep in terms of capable playmakers – Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, and Sergio Rodriguez – while Croatia will need their point guard, Roko Ukic, to play heavy minutes.
The Croatians, though, do have the weapons to keep things close against Spain. Versatile big man Dario Saric, who was named MVP of Croatia’s qualifying tournament after averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds, can get the better of his matchup against Spain’s less athletic power forwards.
Meanwhile Mario Hezonja and Bojan Bogdanovic, are knockdown shooters who will also have a bit more spring in their step than Spain’s wings.
Defensive Edge – Spain (-9.5)
Neither team has much in the way of truly lockdown defenders, although Spain has the best one. With his size, length, and basketball IQ, Ricky Rubio is an elite defender from the point guard position. Slowing down Croatia’s point guard, Ukic will go a long way in disrupting Croatia’s attack.
On the other side, Croatia could have some problems containing Gasol inside. The Croatians will be without their top two big men – Ante Tomic and Justin Hamilton – for the tournament, which will leave the assignment of guarding Gasol to the mediocre pairing of Miro Bilan and Darko Planinic.
Writer’s Prediction: With Saric and Bogdanovic leading the way, Croatia has enough firepower to keep within striking distance of Spain. Take Croatia to cover the +9.5 spread.
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