Spain vs. Australia Men’s Basketball Preview
Where: Carioca Arena 1 — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Sunday, August 21, 2016, 10:30 AM ET
Line: Spain (-7) vs. Australia (+7); total: 164.5 – view all men’s Olympic basketball lines
TV Broadcast: NBCSN / NBCOlympics.com
Writer’s Pick: Australia (+7)
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Betting on Spain (-7)
On the bright side, even with a much-improved defensive performance, the U.S. was still unable to handle Pau Gasol. The Spanish superstar, who was actually a doubt to even play due to a calf injury, was unstoppable once again. He finished with 23 points and eight rebounds in just 29 minutes.
This will likely be the final Olympic game for Gasol, as well as other members of Spain’s golden generation, so they still have every motivation to end the tournament strong.
Nikola Mirotic (seven points, 2-of-7 FGs) struggled against the U.S., which hamstrung the Spanish offense. The Americans were always going to be a bad matchup for Mirotic because of all their wing players who can defend at the 4.
But the Chicago Bulls forward, who’s Spain’s second-leading scorer in the tournament (12.7 points per game), will have a more advantageous matchup against the Aussies, who have no stretch 4 capable of guarding him along the perimeter.
Betting on Australia (+7)
Australia had been arguably the most impressive team in the entire tournament heading into the semifinals. The Aussies were 4-1 during the group stage, with their only loss a closely-contested matchup with the U.S. They blew out their other four opponents by over 20 points, and completely demolished Lithuania by 26 in the quarterfinals.
But the wheels came off spectacularly in their semifinal rematch with Serbia. The Aussies couldn’t buy a basket in the entire first half – they finished with just 14 points – as they were dealt a 26-point defeat. Star performers Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova combined for just seven points. Patty Mills – the tournament’s second-leading scorer with over 21 points per game – had just 13.
Bogut, who has been so crucial for the Aussies on both ends of the court, was clearly not at his best against Serbia. He also looked to be favoring his knee later in the game. It’ll be a huge blow for the Aussies if Bogut’s not at 100 percent, especially since he’ll be tasked to slow down Gasol in the post.
The Aussies, though, will be unlikely to lie down with or without Bogut, as they will be looking to win their first-ever Olympic medal in basketball.
The Aussies are much better than their stinker against Serbia, and the bronze will matter more to them than the Spanish. Australia bounces back and at least covers (+7) against Spain.
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