Australia's guard Patty Mills (L) tries to pass USA's guard Kyrie Irving during a Men's round Group A basketball match between Australia and USA at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Andrej ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Basketball at the Olympics – Semi Finals

Both semi-finals are on this evening. The quarterfinals weren’t a great spectacle as the 3 games that were on at a reasonable hour here in the UK were all blowouts. But at least the bet that I recommended here last time won. I backed under 190.5 in the USA v Argentina game, which landed despite another fast paced game and some good outside shooting.

Even early in the game before it got out of hand, Argentina didn’t play slow enough. Team USA have far, far superior talent to your team. Do you want to maximise possessions, or minimize them? But that’s one of the first rules of prediction; thinking about what teams will do, instead of what they should do. When team’s play a certain way it’s not easy to change it drastically v USA, and coaches generally prefer to build their players up and don’t want to say something like “look guys, it’s a near certainty that we’re going to lose this game. In fact, we’ll probably going to get destroyed. But to improve our tiny chances I want you play a different style that the audience isn’t going to like…”

Anyway Spain don’t play fast and it will be a lot more competitive than Argentina and so under 187.5 is worth a look. On the money line USA opened up at 1.14, came in to 1.09 and are back out to 1.11. Interestingly the odds of them winning gold before the tournament started was 1.10, so it shows how bad they have been defensively so far.

In the other semi I like Australia to get past Serbia. They opened up at 1.72 and have come into 1.51, I wouldn’t be backing them at those odds now though. Australia were competitive against the US, and were actually leading at one point in the 4th quarter, and they’ve handily won every other game.

So it looks like it’s going to be Australia v USA for the gold on Sunday.

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