The U.S. is one win away from their third consecutive Olympic gold medal, and they’ll have some familiarity with their opponent going in.
Serbia, which blew out Australia in the semifinal round, is the opposition and they’re playing with a great deal of confidence. Guard Milos Teodosic has led the way offensively with his ability to both score and find open teammates, and players such as Bogdan Bogdanovic, Milan Macvan and Nikola Jokic have been the beneficiaries. Teodosic accounted for 18 points and six assists in the first meeting between the two teams, a 94-91 U.S. victory with Bogdanovic missing what would have been a game-tying three-pointer as time expired.
WATCH LIVE: Men’s basketball gold medal game, U.S. vs. Serbia — 2:30 p.m. Eastern
With Teodosic being as important to Serbia as he is, will U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski look to give reserves Kyle Lowry and Paul George more time given their defensive abilities? Those two, along with Jimmy Butler, have been the best perimeter defenders through the tournament and they helped spark the run that put away Argentina in the quarterfinals.
Also key defensively for the U.S. is center DeAndre Jordan, who played very well in the semifinals against Spain with nine points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. If he maintains his level of play on both ends of the floor, as a finisher offensively and as a rebounder/shot-blocker defensively the Americans will be that much tougher to beat. On the offensive end Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Carmelo Anthony have all stepped forward in spots, and given the raw talent putting points on the board hasn’t been much of an issue in Rio.
Serbia’s guaranteed their first Olympic medal in basketball as an independent nation regardless of the outcome, but that first meeting likely gives them the confidence that they can pull off what would be an incredible upset.