Las Vegas. Michelob Ultra Arena. 11.07.2021.
The U.S. lineup isn't in its' optimal form yet, but that does not affect bookmakers' betting odds ahead of the game against Nigeria. The African squad has many NBA players on its lineup - will the visitors put up a decent fight?
USA current form
The U.S. team dropped out of the last World Cup in the quarterfinals, which, of course, was seen as a failure. Now under Gregg Popovich's wing there is a much stronger squad, with Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, Zach LaVine and Bam Adebayo which will participate in the Olympics. A team of young rising stars, including Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, P.J. Washington, Isaiah Stewart and others, were also called into training camp. Devin Booker, Chris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are currently playing in the NBA Finals, which caused the coaching staff to pull some basketball players from the 2nd team. Keldon Johnson, Saddique Bay and Keldon Johnson are preparing for the game against Nigeria, and Josh Madgett, Dakota Mathias, John Jenkins and Cameron Reynolds have also been brought in. The last four have experience playing under FIBA auspicesfor the America's Cup selection.
In six games, the U.S. team has won all of them, and the team's last official game was in February. That time under Joe Prunty the Americans defeated the Mexican team - 96-75. Joe Johnson, James Nunnally and Isaiah Thomas were on the floor, but neither of them were noticeable. The U.S. made 11 of 27 three-pointers (40.7%) and the same Nunnally made 2 of 3. Rashad James was the highest scorer on the team with 21 points.
Nigeria current form
Nigeria is the only African team to play in the Tokyo Olympics, and they are now rightfully the strongest on the continent. At the last World Cup, the team finished 17th, beating China, South Korea, and Ivory Coast. Since then, some of the national team's players have progressed: Gabe Vincent played in the NBA for Miami and Jordan Nwora was on the floor for Milwaukee. In addition, Mike Brown, who has extensive experience on the coaching staffs of NBA clubs, led the team. Right now he is working for Golden State. Jahlil Okafor and KZ Okpala were added to the roster for the 2019 Worlds, while Monte Morris and OG Anunoby were not called up to the team. Also, Ike Diogu, who played in the best league in the world, was left out of the lineup.
Nigeria has won its last five games without a letup, and in February they crushed Mali 76-56. Already at halftime, the team led by 17 points, and all that was left was for them not to lose the handicap. Ike Diogu was the main hero of the game, scoring 20 points and making 3 of 7 three-pointers. Ike Iroegbu and Ike Nwamu were the only two players to make 3 of 12 shots from the field.
Experts betting tips
The U.S. team is a head-turner compared to the Nigerians, but not all of their best players will be able to take to the court just yet. The team's leaders had a difficult season in the NBA, and it is unlikely that the coach will overload them since he brought on six more players before the game with Nigeria. Their intensity on defense will also suffer; Durant and his men should conserve their strength in preparation for the Olympics. The visitors should be improving even in comparison with the last World Cup, and they can easily form a starting five of NBA players. The coaching factor should not be dismissed, either: Mike Brown is capable of delivering quality basketball. I suggest betting on the following outcomes:
- TO 183.5 for 1.875;
- Nigeria Point Spread +30.5 for 1.50;
- USA Total Points Under (105.5) for 1.833.