2016 Olympic quarterfinals preview

RIO DE JANEIRO — The 2016 Olympic basketball tournament is wide open. Eight great teams remain and every one of them has a chance at a medal.

The United States is the only undefeated team among them and carries a 50-game winning streak in international tournaments into the quarterfinals. But, it has looked vulnerable over its last three games, allowing Australia, Serbia and France to score more than 110 points per 100 possessions. If it doesn’t get enough offense in any of its next three games, the U.S. can lose.

And every other team can win. The only team in the quarterfinals that doesn’t have a quality win in Rio is Serbia. But Serbia lost to France by one and had a wide-open three to send its game vs. the U.S. to overtime. And, oh yeah, Serbia won silver at the 2014 World Cup, having beat Greece, Brazil and France to get to the final (after, just like this year, picking up no quality wins in pool play).

Here’s a rundown of each of Wednesday’s quarterfinals…

Pace = Possessions per 40 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Stats are from games vs. remaining teams. For full Olympic pace & efficiency stats, go here.

Australia (A2) vs. Lithuania (B3) – 10 a.m. ET

One of these teams is going to have a really disappointing finish to its stay in Rio. Lithuania started out 3-0 in Group B before getting crushed by Spain on Saturday and falling to Croatia on Monday. Australia, meanwhile, has looked like the second best team in the tournament, with two wins over good teams and only a 10-point loss to the U.S.

AUSTRALIA (4-1)
vs. teams remaining: Beat France by 21, beat Serbia by 15, lost to USA by 10.
Pace: 78.8 (3)
OffRtg: 114.3 (3)
DefRtg: 103.2 (2)
NetRtg: +11.1 (2)

NBA notes: Patty Mills (Spurs) ranks second in the tournament at 20.5 points per game and averaged 25.7 in the three games vs. the three Group A teams that remain. Matthew Dellavedova (Bucks) leads the tournament with 8.6 assists per game and had 34 total vs. France, Serbia and USA. Andrew Bogut (Mavs) (13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game) has looked great after recovering from a knee injury suffered in The Finals, Joe Ingles (Jazz) has been passive until it’s time to hit a big shot or two, and Aron Baynes (Pistons) has the tournament’s craziest beard/hair combination.

Non-NBA’er to watch: The NBA guys carry the bulk of the load, but David Andersen (last played in the NBA in 2011) had a big game (13 points, 5-for-6 shooting) vs. the U.S.

LITHUANIA (3-2)
vs. teams remaining: Beat Argentina by 8, lost to Spain by 50, lost to Croatia by 9.
Pace: 74.7 (8)
OffRtg: 99.2 (7)
DefRtg: 120.8 (8)
NetRtg: -21.6 (8)

NBA notes: Jonas Valanciunas (Raptors) has had a pretty quiet tournament and got absolutely destroyed by Pau Gasol (Spurs) on Saturday. Domantas Sabonis (Thunder) hasn’t put up big numbers either, but had a big bucket against Brazil and you see his potential every time he steps on the floor. Mindauskas Kuzminskas (Knicks) totaled 40 points in games vs. Argentina and Spain.

Non-NBA’er to watch: The best non-NBA players in this tournament are mostly guards, and point guard Mantas Kalnietis (second in the tournament at 8.0 assists per game) is the key to Lithuania’s offense. If Dellavedova can keep Kalnietis in front of him, Australia will be in great shape.

The winner of Australia-Lithuania will face the winner of Croatia-Serbia in the semifinals.

Spain (B2) vs. France (A3) – 1:30 p.m. ET

It wouldn’t be a proper tournament without these teams facing off in the medal rounds. Most recently, France beat Spain in Madrid in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and Spain got revenge by beating France in Lille in the semifinals of last year’s Eurobasket.

Both teams are strong both inside and out. France has had more consistent results, but Spain has recovered well from an 0-2 start and has looked like the best team in the tournament over the last few days.

SPAIN (3-2)
vs. teams remaining: Lost to Croatia by 2, beat Lithuania by 50, beat Argentina by 19.
Pace: 75.1 (7)
OffRtg: 119.0 (2)
DefRtg: 91.4 (1)
NetRtg: +27.6 (1)

NBA notes: At 36, Pau Gasol (Spurs) (19.4 points, 8.8 rebounds) is still the man for his national team and his best games have been against the team’s toughest opponents. Nikola Mirotic (Bulls) spaces the floor, but has also mixed in some interior play against smaller forwards. Sergio Rodriguez (Sixers) has played more than Ricky Rubio (Wolves), who has struggled with his shot. Willy Hernangomez (Knicks) is the fourth big, Jose Calderon (Lakers) has barely played, and Alex Abrines (Thunder) is the 12th man.

Non-NBA’er to watch: Sergio Llull (who’s rights are held by the Rockets) is quick and flammable offensively, but can get out of control.

FRANCE (3-2)
vs. teams remaining: Lost to Australia by 21, beat Serbia by 1, lost to USA by 3.
Pace: 76.2 (6)
OffRtg: 104.7 (6)
DefRtg: 114.6 (6)
NetRtg: -9.9 (6)

NBA notes: Tony Parker (Spurs) had his minutes limited in pool play and didn’t play at all against the U.S., but did he did manage to drain the game-winner vs. Serbia. Boris Diaw (Jazz) makes plays, but Nicolas Batum (Hornets) hasn’t been very aggressive offensively. Rudy Gobert (Jazz) and Joffrey Lauvergne (Nuggets) have helped their team rank No. 1 in rebounding percentage in the tournament.

Non-NBA’ers to watch: Nando De Colo is a much better player than he was when he left the NBA two years ago. He scored 22 points against Serbia and had 18 points and five assists in only 19 minutes against the U.S. Thomas Heurtel chewed up the U.S. defense and almost had a triple-double (18 points, eight rebounds, nine assists) in 27 minutes.

The winner of Spain-France will face the winner of USA-Argentina in the semifinals.

USA (A1) vs. Argentina (B4) – 5:45 p.m. ET

Among the other seven teams remaining, Argentina might be the most favorable matchup for the U.S. This is the last team to beat the Americans in the Olympics, but the U.S. will have a huge advantage in size (especially against point guard Facundo Campazzo), speed (allowing them to close out on Luis Scola pick-and-pops), and depth (Argentina’s bench is weak).

But Argentina still has some pick-and-roll magic in its arsenal, as well as decent shooting on the perimeter. With this being the last run of the Golden Generation and with a lot of Argentina fans in Rio, this team will certainly give the U.S. a fight.

USA (5-0)
vs. teams remaining: Beat Australia by 10, beat Serbia by 3, beat France by 3.
Pace: 80.3 (2)
OffRtg: 122.0 (1)
DefRtg: 113.7 (5)
NetRtg: +8.3 (3)

ARGENTINA (3-2)
vs. teams remaining: Beat Croatia by 8, lost to Lithuania by 8, lost to Spain by 19.
Pace: 82.0 (1)
OffRtg: 95.9 (8)
DefRtg: 103.6 (3)
NetRtg: -7.8 (5)

NBA notes: After making just five of his first 22 threes in the tournament, Manu Ginobili (Spurs) was 4-for-6 from beyond the arc against Spain on Monday. This team still counts on Luis Scola (Nets) screens, rolls and pops for much of its offense. Patricio Garino (Spurs) made some big defensive plays in Argentina’s double-OT win over Brazil and will likely get the Kevin Durant assignment on Wednesday.

Non-NBA’er to watch: Even though he’s got Argentine legends playing alongside him, 5-11 point guard Facundo Campazzo leads the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game. He’s a little like Ginobili in that he’ll take risks. He likes to put defenders on their heels on the break.

Croatia (B1) vs. Serbia (A4) – 9:15 p.m. ET

Another rivalry game, a lot of young talent on both rosters, and two guys named Bogdanovic. This could be the next France-Spain in regard to playing in multiple high-stakes games over the next several years.

CROATIA (3-2)
vs. teams remaining: Beat Spain by 2, Lost to Argentina by 8, Beat Lithuania by 9.
Pace: 76.8 (4)
OffRtg: 106.5 (5)
DefRtg: 104.2 (4)
NetRtg: +2.3 (4)

NBA notes: Bojan Bogdanovic (Nets) leads the tournament in scoring at 24.8 points per game. When this team needs a bucket, it runs a play for him. Dario Saric (Sixers) had the game-saving block vs. Spain and big games against Argentina (19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists) and Lithuania (18, six and three). Mario Hezonja (Magic) scored 16 points vs. Argentina, but has otherwise been quiet offensively.

Non-NBA’er to watch: Former Raptor Roko Ukic runs the offense with a pretty steady hand. He had 16 assists and just three turnovers in pool play.

SERBIA (3-2)
vs. teams remaining: Lost to Australia by 15, lost to France by 1, lost to USA by 3.
Pace: 76.2 (5)
OffRtg: 106.7 (4)
DefRtg: 116.9 (7)
NetRtg: -10.2 (7)

NBA notes: Nikola Jokic (Nuggets) got pushed around by Australia in the second game, but had a huge performance (25 points, 11-for-15 shooting) against the U.S.

Non-NBA’ers to watch: Point guard Milos Teodosic is the most fun player in the tournament and former Buck Miroslav Raduljica is a hoss with skills around the basket and the tournament’s best facial hair/expressions. Former Warrior Nemanja Nedovic is quick and athletic and Bogdan Bogdanovic (whose rights are held by countryman Vlade Divac and the Kings) is dangerous coming off pin-down screens.

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