Aug 6, 2021 - Sports

What to know as the U.S. and France go for gold in Olympic basketball

Data: Axios Research; Photos: Ned Dishman/NBAE, Liu Yaru/ChinaSports/VCG via Getty Images; Table: Sara Wise/Axios
Data: Axios Research; Photos: Ned Dishman/NBAE, Liu Yaru/ChinaSports/VCG via Getty Images; Table: Sara Wise/Axios

Team USA and France tip-off Friday night for men's basketball gold (10:30pm ET), finally in a time slot that should allow more than just the night owls to tune in live.

The backdrop: The Olympics began with France beating the U.S. by seven — and that came two years after a shocking defeat at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, when the French ended Team USA's 58-game win streak.

  • The 2019 defeat stemmed from one superlative effort (Donovan Mitchell's 29-6-4) not being enough to get past a well-rounded team led by Rudy Gobert (21-16) and Evan Fournier (22-3-4).
  • Last week's defeat was different, as no one shot well, and the ragtag U.S. roster hadn't jelled yet — though the well-rounded French team was still led by Gobert (14-9) and Fournier (28-4).

Tale of the tape...

USA: The Americans are the most dominant team in Olympic history by far, winning 15 of 19 gold medals, plus a silver and two bronzes.

  • Starters: Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker, Bam Adebayo
  • Bench: Draymond Green, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Zach LaVine, Keldon Johnson, JaVale McGee, Jerami Grant
  • Olympic GOAT: Durant already passed Carmelo Anthony as the all-time U.S. Olympic scoring leader. A win tonight would give him a third gold medal, tying Anthony’s record.

France: The French have won two Olympic silvers (1948, 2000) and finished better than sixth just one other time (1956). They have five active and three former NBA players.

  • Starters: Gobert, Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Nando de Colo, Guerschon Yabusele
  • Bench: Frank Ntilikina, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, Thomas Heurtel, Vincent Poirier, Andrew Albicy, Petr Cornelie, Moustapha Fall
  • X-factor: Batum, who just signed a two-year deal to stay with the Clippers, has done everything for Les Bleus, including a game-clinching block to get past Slovenia and into the gold medal game.

🎥 Watch: Avery Johnson breaks down the matchup (YouTube)

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