USA vs. Iran Olympics Men’s Basketball Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will Team USA Cover Huge Spread? (July 28)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Durant.
- After an embarrassing defeat in its Olympics opener, Team USA faces a much lighter test against Iran.
- Gregg Popovich's team had an ice-cold shooting night in its loss to France and should have less trouble offensively in Game 2.
- Joe Dellera breaks down the matchup and delivers his best bets for the game below.
USA vs. Iran Odds
|Moneyline||-10000 / +1400|
|Time||12:40 a.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday afternoon and via PointsBet.|
The United States men’s basketball team has now dropped three of its last four games ahead of its matchup against Iran, in what has somehow become a must-win game for both the Americans and the Iranians.
Both of these teams dropped their first matchup in group play, the United States to France, who are new favorites to win Group B, and the Iranians to Czech Republic.
Should we expect the United States team to roll through Iran, or can the Iranians put up a fight against improbable odds?
The United States started Damian Lillard, Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo in the loss to France, but those are not necessarily the players that were given the most run. Jrue Holiday saw a team-high 27:52 and is a player it seems that Coach Popovich wants to see on the floor for both his playmaking and defensive abilities.
Overall, the U.S. shot terribly against France, and some of it may have been rust or it may have been that Rudy Gobert continued to excel defensively, regardless of the court or the rules. The US shot just 36.2% including 31.2% from 3-point range in the loss.
Additionally, defense is a bit easier for these teams that are less athletic than the Americans. Under the international rules, there is no defensive three-second violation. That means if the US cannot hit the 3-point shot, defenses can really pack the paint and secure rebounds while limiting driving opportunities.
So if the 3-ball does not fall, the United States surely could rely on its defense and athleticism to grind out victories, right?
I say no, because there really is no defense. Green and Adebayo are both undersized and outside of Holiday, there is no one I’d trust to lock down a perimeter threat. This team sacrificed defense for a score-first mentality with its roster construction, which is fine if the shots are consistently falling or you’re getting to the free throw line.
But that leads us to an even more concerning issue. The United States is stuck foul hunting and playing toward an NBA-style game in which the referees call grazes as fouls and trips to the charity stripe are a dime a dozen. This is not happening. If the United States team cannot establish itself as elite shot makers, the referees certainly will not be bailing them out.
Iran is the only Olympic team with no current NBA talent on its roster. Their roster is headlined by 36-year-old big man Hamed Haddadi, the 7-foot-2 center of the Sichuan Blue Whales. Haddadi actually played a few seasons for the Grizzlies over a decade ago but only averaged 2.2 points and 2.5 rebounds in 7 minutes per game. He’s played meaningful minutes internationally, though. In 10 seasons of international ball he has averaged an impressive 18.3 points and 13.9 rebounds.
Haddadi will try to clog the paint and clean the glass against the smaller U.S. frontcourt.
Haddadi is complemented by Behnam Yakhchalidehkordi (26), who plays professionally in Germany. In the opener against the Czech Republic, Yakhchalidehkordi played well with 23 points, four assists and three rebounds.
Past these two, though, there is not much talent here. Iran is the 23rd-ranked team in the FIBA Rankings, and this is the country’s first Olympic basketball appearance since 2008. They have not won a game at the Summer Games since 1948.
The Iranians made a push for their first victory in nearly 73 years against the Czech Republic, but it was all in the 4th Quarter. They were down 16 at the half and 21 to start the fourth quarter, and the final score of 84-78 did not accurately reflect how badly they lost that game.
The United States team is flawed, and the fact that there’s even concern whether they can win the gold this year says it all.
This is not a team that’s so overpowering that their chemistry and fit do not matter against some of the elite international teams such as Spain, Australia or France.
Against this Iranian team, though? It should not be an issue.
The United States team still takes plenty of 3-pointers and with a slightly closer 3-point line than the NBA, it should be able to capitalize with guys like Lillard, Durant and LaVine in the lineup. I expect the United States to make a statement and be aggressive in taking 3-pointers to put this game well out of reach early.
The Iranians dropped their chance at a victory when they fell to the Czech Republic and will need to wait another three years for a crack at an Olympic victory. I fully expect them to lose not only against the United States, but also to France.
This is a monstrous full game spread, so I’ll look to the first quarter and first half for value when backing the United States.
Pick: US -11.5 1Q; US -23.5 1H