The United States can win its fourth straight gold medal in men’s basketball on Saturday. But France has already beaten Team USA once in these Olympics, and will look to do so again in an effort to win the country’s first Olympic title.
The Americans rallied past Australia in the semifinals to book their place in the gold medal game.
US starts slow, rallies past Australia
For the second straight game, an opponent built a double-digit lead against the United States. But just like in the quarterfinal against Spain, Team USA rallied back. After Australia went up by 15 in the first half, the Americans put together a 20-0 run at the end of the second quarter and the start of the third to take control.
Kevin Durant scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Team USA to the win.
“When you are a great team and you’re playing a team who feels that it’s going to be tough to beat us, they’re going to come out and play their best brand of basketball,” Durant told reporters after the win. “They’re going to play perfect basketball, and I felt like that’s what they did in the first half, and once we went down three going into halftime, I felt like we had the game in hand.”
Meanwhile, France held off a late rally to beat Slovenia 90-89 in the other men’s basketball semifinal. France handed Slovenia its first loss with Luka Doncic on the roster. Doncic recorded only the third triple-double in Olympic history, totaling 16 points, 18 assists, and 10 rebounds on the night. But it wasn’t quite enough to get past France.
Slovenian guard Klemen Prepelic appeared to have an open layup to win the game in the final seconds. But Nicolas Batum blocked the shot to secure the win for France.
Slovenia battles Australia for bronze
Team USA comes into the gold medal game as a 12.5-point favorite over France, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. But that line doesn’t tell the whole story of the building rivalry between these two teams.
France beat the United States 83-76 in the opening game of the Olympic tournament, with Evan Fournier scoring 28 points to lead the French team to victory. France also eliminated the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
|Olympic Men’s Basketball Odds – Gold Medal Game (FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|France (+12.5): -114||USA (-12.5): -106|
|Bronze Medal Game|
|Slovenia (-2.5): -108||Australia (+2.5): -114|
As usual, Team USA enjoys a talent advantage over its French opponents. But that gap is less stark than usual in this case. France features a number of current and former NBA players, including Fournier, Batum, Rudy Gobert, and Frank Ntilikina among others.
In the bronze medal match, Doncic and Slovenia will take on Australia. The Slovenians enter as a 2.5-point favorite, according to FanDuel.