NBA

Team USA basketball vs. France, Tokyo Olympics 2020: U.S. out to avenge 2019 loss; French hope for first gold

Team USA will tip off its Olympic schedule with a matchup against France — the team that defeated them in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup the last time they met. Given that fact, it’s safe to say that the United States isn’t taking their meeting with France lightly. 

“We’ve been preparing for France for two years,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said of the contest. Popovich also coached the U.S. during their loss to France in 2019. “I think about it every day.” 

Though the United States lost to France during the FIBA World Cup in 2019, Team USA has never lost to France in actual Olympic play. The two teams have met six times in the Olympics, and Team USA has won all of six of the games, with the most recent meeting coming in the first round of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The U.S. will obviously be looking to extend that streak this time around, while France will be looking to secure its first Olympic victory over America. 

In addition to all the stars on Team USA, there will also be several familiar faces for NBA fans on the French team, as Rudy Gobert, Nic Batum, Evan Fournier, Frank Ntilikina, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are all on France’s roster. With that said, here’s everything you need to know about the matchup between the United States and France. 

United States vs. France

  • Date: Sunday, July 25 | Time: 8 a.m. ET
  • Location: Saitama Super Arena — Saitama, Japan 
  • TV: NBC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: USA -800; FRA +550 | O/U: 178.5 (via William Hill Sportsbook)

Storylines

United States: Team USA enters the Tokyo Olympics looking to capture its fourth straight gold medal after finishing on top in 2008, 2012 and 2016, and they are the prohibitive favorite to do just that.  However, things haven’t been especially smooth for the U.S. so far as the team kicked off exhibition play with two consecutive losses to Nigeria and Australia. Prior to those games, the U.S. had just two total losses in exhibition games since 1992. The fact that they didn’t have a full roster and were dealing with injury and COVID-19 issues likely didn’t help their play in the exhibitions. 

The U.S. was forced to make a couple of last-minute changes to their roster. Bradley Beal had to bow out of the competition due to health and safety protocols, while Kevin Love opted out as he’s still recovering from a calf injury. Those two players were ultimately replaced on the roster by Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee. Also, Team USA was without three key contributors during exhibition play, as Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker were all still participating in the NBA Finals. Now that the Finals are over, those three players are all expected to be available against France. 

Given all of the changes to their roster, Team USA hasn’t been able to build much chemistry. But, with a full, healthy roster, the U.S. still projects as the most redoubtable squad at the Olympics. Their quest for a fourth straight gold medal starts with a formidable foe in France. 

France: While the U.S. has won three straight gold medals in the Olympics, France will be seeking its first-ever gold medal in Tokyo. France has finished with a silver medal twice (1948 and 2000), but that’s the most success that they’ve had. This year though, they have an extremely solid squad headlined by the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. In addition to Gobert, the team also has Evan Fournier and Nic Batum — two players capable of putting up points in bunches. 

Like the U.S., France had some struggles during exhibition play as they lost twice to Spain and also dropped a game to Japan. Obviously, this wasn’t a great start for them, but they’ll look to turn it out once Olympic play is officially underway. 

Prediction 

Though both teams will be looking to start off their Olympic schedule with a win, the U.S. is the more talented team on paper, and as such, they should be able to take care of business. The fact that they lost to France in the FIBA World Cup in 2019 will likely serve as an added motivation for Team USA as well, especially since Gregg Popovich has apparently been ruminating on the loss since it occurred. Plus, having their full roster for the first time, and the improved depth that comes with it, should help the U.S.  Pick: United States – 12



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