The Serbians are coming off a tough loss to the French and their next game is not going to get any easier against Team USA. The United States are -25 favorites with a total of 188.5, but is the spread where the most value resides in this one?
Look for improved defense
Tom Thibodeau, one of Team USA's assistant coaches, looked like his head was going to explode at times in the United States' game against Australia. Team USA was down to the Boomers at half time but turned things around in the second half defensively, holding them to only 13 3rd quarter points and outscoring the Aussies 49-34 in the second half.
This is important because the United States is not only the most talented offensive roster in the Olympic games, they are also a very good defensive team. Their starting lineup is more offensive oriented due to the style of international play, but they can easily lock in on defense when they bring in DeAndre Jordan for DeMarcus Cousins.
The USA already made the good change of starting Paul George instead of Klay Thompson, which makes this lineup almost impossible to score on if they are playing hard defense. Even if Cousins is in the game they can be a good defensive team, but Jordan is far superior to Boogie on that end of the court.
That brings me back to the point of Thibodeau looking like he was going to strangle Cousins at times. After locking in on defense in the second half on Wednesday, the USA is probably going to hear about it on Thursday. The Serbian team is talented and only a +25 dog to the United States. They have the ability to play the USA tough, so I'm sure Mike Krzyzewski is going to stress defense through all four quarters of the game.
The Sharp Pick
The Serbians aren't a bad team either on defense but their offense doesn't bring a lot to the table. They are averaging 80 points per game through three games and they only scored 86 against Venezuela. Then they took on two tough opponents in the Aussies and the French, but while Team USA will surely be in the 100s in scoring, if not really close, the Serbians might be limited to less than 80 points.
If that is the case, I like the under in this one. The Serbs have been an offense led by a trio of players including Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Serbian has played very well so far long with his teammates Milos Teodosic and Miroslav Raduljica.
The problem for the Serbs is that with George and Jordan in the game for USA Team, there is ample amount of wing and inside defense to completely shut down the Serbs' three best players. There are teams the US will beat with offense, but I don't expect a pretty or fast-paced game here.
Look for both teams to attempt to lock in defensively and for the under to be the winning play on Thursday.
Free Basketball Pick: Under 188.5