Team USA remains the betting favorite on the Olympics odds to bring home a gold medal from Tokyo in men’s basketball, but the Americans were stunned in their tournament opener over the weekend. Another upset early Wednesday morning U.S. time against Iran seems unlikely as Team USA is a massive 37.5-point favorite.
Olympic Men’s Basketball Odds Preview 2021
The Americans led Team France, which has some quality NBA players like three-time league Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and guard Evan Fournier, 74-67 with 3:41 left in their first game but ended up losing 83-76. The USA was outscored 16-2 by France in the final 3:40 while shooting 0-of-9 from the field.
It snapped a 25-game winning streak for the USA men’s basketball team in the Olympics, the side’s first loss since 2004 when it fell to Argentina in Athens. In games that count, the USA is 6-3 in coach Gregg Popovich’s tenure. They’ve lost to the French twice, Sunday and in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup,
Popovich, the future Hall of Fame coach of the San Antonio Spurs, somehow downplayed the shocker: “There is nothing to be surprised about. They knocked down some 3s down the stretch and we made some mistakes. As Draymond (Green) said, we had (a seven-point lead) late in the game and we gave up 3s, so those are mistakes by players. Those things happen. But if we can be more consistent during the game, we wouldn’t have been in that position. When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed.”
Fournier — a current NBA free agent — scored 28 points to lead all scorers, including hitting a clutch three late. Gobert added 14 points and nine rebounds, plus had his usual solid defense in the paint. French coach Vincent Collet also outmaneuvered Popovich by deploying a super big lineup in the second half by playing 7-footers Gobert and Vincent Poirier together. France finished the game ahead in the rebounding battle 42-36.
“They had a good run, but we just stuck with our game plan,” Fournier said. “Second, you have to be honest and look at their roster, they have guys who are pretty tired from playing in the NBA Finals. “We know they aren’t at full strength yet, but it was a good win regardless for us. It’s a hell of a win, and our country is going to be extremely proud.”
The French even played without one of their better players in Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina, who sat out due to a leg injury.
The best American player was probably guard Jrue Holiday, who of course just helped lead the Milwaukee Bucks to the first NBA title in 50 years. The flight he was on to Tokyo landed less than 24 hours before the game. Holiday had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and played strong defense all game. Superstar Kevin Durant played perhaps the worst game of his Olympic career, getting in foul trouble and shooting just 4-of-12. Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard failed to connect on a field goal in the second half. He finished with 11 points, three assists, four turnovers and three rebounds.
Iran, meanwhile, isn’t exactly known as a basketball powerhouse and lost its Olympic opener 84-78 to the Czech Republic. Behnam Yakhchali had a game-high 23 points for Iran, which trailed by 22 late in the third and by 21 in the fourth before trying to mount a comeback. Mohammad Jamshidi scored 16 and Hamed Haddadi had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
This is the first Olympics that the Iran men’s basketball team has qualified for since 2008 when it finished in 11th place. This will be the first-ever Olympic meeting between Team USA and Iran.
- USA 84, Iran 60