How about those Milwaukee Bucks? Fresh off an unforgettable NBA Finals victory, it’s time to find out if Team USA can also capture championship glory in Tokyo.
In this week’s Showstopper, we’ll break down all the betting angles for United States vs. France in the Olympic basketball prelims. Plus, we’ll play hardball with Blue Jays vs. Mets and White Sox vs. Brewers in some interleague action.
Team USA vs. France
Sunday, July 25 | TV: Peacock
Team USA Basketball begins the quest for Olympic gold Sunday morning with a battle against France that will be streamed on NBC’s Peacock. Prior to the preliminary round, the U.S. squad dropped two exhibition games, losing to Nigeria and Australia, before bouncing back against Argentina and Spain. Now they’ll go up against the likes of Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier among the NBA players on France’s basketball roster. Despite a good crop of NBA talent, France sits in 7th place in the FIBA world rankings and played poorly in their exhibition matchups, losing to Spain twice, followed by a surprising 81-75 defeat to Japan.
Unfortunately, Bradley Beal will not be in action for the United States after he was placed on the safety and protocols list. But even without Beal, there’s still plenty of talent to carry this team, including Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, and newly crowned NBA champions Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. Coach Gregg Popovich said he expects Booker, Holiday and Middleton to all be available for the opener despite the very short turnaround after the NBA Finals. More recent good news for Team USA is that Zach LaVine has cleared health and safety protocols and will play.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Mets
Friday, July 23 | TV: SNY / MLB.TV
There’s a bit of a revenge game narrative in the mix as Steven Matz (8-4, 4.43 ERA, 84 Ks) is scheduled to start against the Mets, returning to Citi Field for the first time since being traded to the Blue Jays. Opposing him for New York will be rookie Tylor Megill (0-0, 2.63 ERA, 28 Ks), who has given the rotation a nice lift with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco all on the injured list. Although the sample size is limited, Megill has shown he can strike out batters at the big-league level. Both Matz and Megill are very unlikely to work deep into this contest, given their past body of work, so this could turn into a bullpen game in short order. The Mets are 28-14 at home, while the Blue Jays are 26-22 on the road this season. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has hit only 11 of his 32 homers at road stadiums this year.
Chicago White Sox vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Saturday, July 24 | TV: NBC Sports Chicago / MLB.TV
We’ve got serious potential for a pitchers’ duel on tap for Saturday as Carlos Rodon (8-3, 2.14 ERA, 140 Ks) takes the mound for the White Sox and Corbin Burnes (5-4, 2.16 ERA, 140 Ks) mans the hill for the Brewers. The Brewers’ lineup ranks third in MLB in the strikeout category, so Rodon should have an easier time finding batters to swing and miss. Even though Milwaukee’s pitching rotation has been stellar, its .223 team batting average has resulted in some inconsistent offensive output. Both of these teams have come out of the All-Star break with mixed performances, but the White Sox should still hold an edge, since the Brew Crew have equally struggled to hit lefties just as much as righties thus far.