France vs. Slovenia Men’s Basketball Odds, Olympics Preview, Prediction: Should Luka Doncic & Co be Favored to Advance to Gold Medal Game? (Aug. 5)
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic #77 of the Slovenia Men’s National Team.
- France and Slovenia will go head-to-head in the semifinal round of the men's Olympic basketball tournament.
- The French have a roster filled with multiple NBA vets, while Slovenia boasts the leading scorer of the Olympics, Luka Doncic.
- Raheem Palmer details how he's betting the matchup and who he expects to make the final round.
France vs. Slovenia Odds
|Moneyline||-148 / +116|
|Time||7 a.m. ET|
We’ve reached the semifinals of the Olympics men’s basketball tournament and it doesn’t get any better than a matchup between Slovenia and France.
You’ve heard the saying, “somebody’s O must go” and that’s certainly the case here as both of these teams enter this game off big quarterfinal wins and undefeated records in group play.
Luka Doncic and Slovenia made quick and easy work of Germany with a 94-70 victory while France found themselves in a dogfight with Italy, leading by just 3 points with 51 seconds to go before coming away with an 84-75 victory.
There’s plenty on the line for these two teams as Slovenia is looking to medal in its very first Olympics while the French team is looking to earn its first medal since 2000.
Which one of these teams can earn their spot in the gold medal game? Let’s analyze both sides and find out.
Can Defense Carry France?
With a team full of NBA players like Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Frank Ntilikina and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, France was expected to be one of the teams in contention for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
They have one of the deepest teams in the tournament and to no one’s surprise, they finished 3-0 in group play, winning games over the United States, Czech Republic, Iran and defeating Italy in the quarterfinals.
France has the defensive versatility that can win a game even if the offense isn’t playing at its best. The French held Italy to just 32.4% shooting and 21.3% from behind the arc and the presence of Gobert should make it difficult for Slovenia to score inside given the absence of the three-second rule in FIBA. Slowing down Luka Doncic, who is the leading scorer in the Olympics, is the biggest key for France.
Nic Batum will likely get that matchup from the start, but there are certainly question marks surrounding France’s ability to defend Doncic, especially considering what the All-Star did to the Clippers in the NBA postseason and what he’s done throughout the Olympics.
Still, France can let Doncic get off if they can slow down the hot shooting of Slovenia’s role players, something that they are capable of doing with their defensive prowess.
France primarily scores inside the paint where they’re putting up 37 points per game while shooting 58.6% from 2-point range. Gobert was a huge presence in the middle against Italy and scored 22 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
France can also score from the perimeter and is shooting 36.4% from behind the arc. Fournier is their leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, but with Batum, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Thomas Huertel, this team has more than enough scoring to keep up with anyone.
However, this game will come down to how well they can slow down Slovenia (specifically Doncic) defensively.
Slovenia’s Role Players Can Make the Difference
If there were any doubts about Luka Doncic’s status as one of the best players in the world, it’s gone out the window during the Olympics. Doncic is leading the summer games in points per game (26.3), he’s second in rebounds (10) and second in assists (8) among all players.
He comes off a performance against Germany in which he scored 20 points, dished put 11 assists and grabbed 8 rebounds while leading his team to a 24-point victory. Even more impressive, he’s led Slovenia to a 17-0 record since he joined the team, leading them to a Euro League championship and clinching an Olympic berth by winning the qualifying tournament in Lithuania.
As stellar as Doncic’s play has been, he isn’t alone on this team. In Slovenia’s final game of group play against Spain, the Slovenes proved they could overcome Doncic’s foul trouble and in the quarterfinal game against Germany, the supporting cast showed up in a big way.
Zoran Dragic, brother of Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic and the team’s second leading scorer, put up 27 points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists. Vlatko Cancar of the Denver Nuggets has also come up big for this team, scoring 14.5 points and grabbing 3.3 rebounds per game. They can also score inside with center Mike Tobey who is averaging 11.5 rebounds and 12.5 rebounds in the Olympics.
The boast one of best offenses in the tournament, averaging 105.75 points per game while shooting 50% from the field, 63% on 2-point field goals and 37.3% from behind the arc.
Slovenia will need to knock down open jumpers as the lack of three second rule means Rudy Gobert will be able to camp out in the paint to stop Doncic from driving. Based on the way Slovenia has been hitting 3-point shots in this tournament, that may not be much of a problem.
They also have the ability to drag Gobert out of the paint and make him play in space, which is something the Utah Jazz struggled with during the postseason.
While FIBA rules are different than NBA rules, this is an advantage that should show up here as well given Doncic’s scoring and playmaking ability in the pick-and-roll. Slovenia is also averaging 22 free throw attempts per game and it’s tough to imagine anyone slowing this offense down.
I was surprised to see Slovenia as the favorite given France’s pedigree, but it’s clear they’re the better team. They have the best player on the floor, they have the better offense and, more importantly, they’ve proven that they can survive even when Doncic is in foul trouble.
Slovenia is more than Doncic and a group of role players, they’ve proven to be one of the best teams in FIBA since Doncic. France has the better defense, but they were on the ropes against Italy in a game where Italian starters Danilo Gallinari (5-of-15 from the field), Nico Mannion (1-of-10) and Nicolò Melli (1-of-6) struggled mightily.
Based on what we’ve seen from Slovenia, their offense won’t be nearly as inept even against this France defense. Lay the 2.5 points with Slovenia and look for Doncic to lead them to Gold medal game.
Pick: Slovenia -2.5 (-110)