- Team USA’s troubled Olympic campaign continued with a loss to France on Sunday
- It was USA’s first loss in the men’s basketball since the Games in Athens in 2004
- Their odds to win gold have faded to -225 as a result
Team USA fell to France in their opening game of the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. With minimal preparation time and a couple of exhibition losses, Team USA’s odds to win gold had already faded. Following Sunday’s defeat, they are now at -225 to win gold with DraftKings.
While still heavily favored to win the tournament, concerns about this roster and the coaching have only increased. Is it time for bettors to consider other teams as a legitimate threat to win gold?
Men’s Basketball Olympic Odds
|Team||Odds To Win Gold at DraftKings|
Odds as of July 25
USA shot under 40% from the field against France. Their lack of size was a problem against a big French team. Where they were iso-heavy in their exhibition losses, USA suffered from passivity on the offensive end. Jrue Holiday was the only player interested in attacking off the dribble. Damian Lillard passed up plenty of decent looks.
Their sheer talent should still be enough (in theory) to win gold, but there was no cohesion on Sunday, and this looked like a team of strangers. It was always a concern with this roster, given the limited practice time together, and how three key components have only just joined up with the rest of the group. It is, of course, a worry for bettors.
Reminder: Two years ago in the FIBA World Cup, Team USA suffered a major upset, losing to France in the quarterfinals.
Gregg Popovich last week: “We’ve been preparing for France for two years. I think about it every day.”
— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) July 25, 2021
As noted in our pre-tournament preview, this was a good time for France to play them. Their defense lived up to its reputation. Evan Fournier was exceptional. It should be easier against the Czech Republic and Iran, but Gregg Popovich’s team have a lot of work to do if they’re to enjoy success in the knockout rounds.
The losses to Nigeria and Australia are growing in their significance. If the USA had blown France out on Sunday, the exhibition failings would be forgotten. The performance against the French, however, followed many of the same themes as the defeats to Nigeria and Australia.
Team USA with Gregg Popovich as Head Coach
2019 Pre-FIBA Exhibitions 3-1
2019 FIBA Bball World Cup 6-2*
2021 Pre-Olympic Exhibitions 2-2
2021 Olympics 0-1
*7th-place finish was Americans’ worst ever in a major tournament pic.twitter.com/P8i8Ol0JUI
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) July 25, 2021
Nigeria and Australia used their size advantage to attack the paint. France followed that blueprint. Whether it was putbacks from Rudy Gobert or others attacking Lillard, France played big. USA could not guard Moustapha Fall, who registered six free throw attempts in 11 minutes.
The other notable similarity was the pattern of the game. The USA had a seven-point lead after the first quarter. They even looked comfortable midway through the fourth. France put together a game-winning run in crunch time, just as Australia did in their exhibition win.
Moustapha Fall vs Team USA:
11:19 Minutes pic.twitter.com/diAvGbzwk8
— Evangelos Stellakis (@EvanStellakis) July 25, 2021
Some of those late-game struggles can be put down to fatigue. Some of it is down to coaching, and part of it can be attributed to chemistry. The fact the same problems have resurfaced is a problem, and will force bettors to look elsewhere in the gold medal market.
USA will shoot the ball better. They have easier opponents to come. Still, though, there are issues with this roster, and they cannot afford to be outcompeted as they were on Sunday. France worked harder on defense, threw themselves after loose balls and fought on the glass.
France hands the U.S. men's basketball team their first loss in the Olympics since 2004, snapping their 25-game Olympic winning streak.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 25, 2021
This loss could mean a harder draw in the first knockout round. Wins for France against the Czechs and Iranians will guarantee top spot in the group, and will potentially leave the USA vulnerable to facing one of the other group winners.
After such a stellar performance on Sunday, France might represent the best value in the gold medal market at +1000. There’s temptation to back the USA now that their price has faded, but there are plenty of problems with this team. It’s worth a wager on one of the other contenders.