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Team USA enters knockout round vs. Australia

2020 Tokyo Olympics: France v USA Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Staying one step ahead of the competition. The French national team gave Team USA a good challenge, but the women’s national team held them off and finished the preliminaries undefeated with an 11 point victory.

The opponent today will be Australia. It’s been a rough Olympic run for the Australian team and were able to sneak into this round with a 27 point win against Puerto Rico. One magical run would eliminate all the disappointment they’ve experienced so far in Tokyo.

Where to follow the game

USA Network on TV. Late night so we’re getting rolling after 12:40 AM eastern time.

Injuries

Diana Taurasi was bothered by a right wrist injury. She should be out there today, but won’t be 100 percent.

Elizabeth Cambage is out for the Olympics due to mental health reasons.

The game

The Australian team beat Team USA in the exhibition season, but we can throw that out as now we’re in the knockout rounds.

In a fun coincidence, we’ll be doing Team USA vs. Australia on the men’s side tomorrow night.

What a pleasure it is to have the two best players in the WNBA on your side. We’ll talk about the other one later, but we’ll lead off with Breanna Stewart. Stewie had a cool 22 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists against France in 38 minutes of game play. Now that we’re in the medal rounds, look for her to be on the court for as long as necessary. She can score on all three levels and having someone like her at her size allows for the Americans to be bigger than their opponents at all time.

Liberty players will see a familiar face on the Australian team. Rebecca Allen has had a rough year shooting from three as she shot 30.1 percent with the Liberty during the first half of the WNBA season. She’s been a bit better in the Olympics at 36.1 percent, but she’s going to need to have the game of her life to get France into the medal rounds.

Diana Taurasi will play, but you have to wonder if she’ll be all that effective. She only played 11 minutes against France and an injury to your shooting hand is always difficult to manage. Ariel Atkins has only played two minutes in the Olympics so she likely won’t get the call. Jewell Loyd has been one of the team’s main ballhandlers so she’ll have a big opportunity to step in and keep things running alongside Sue Bird.

Even without Cambage, Australia has got a fearsome presence on the inside. Marianna Tolo saved Australia from catastrophe with a 26 point, 17 rebound, four assist masterpiece against Puerto Rico. Her minutes were in the teens in Australia’s two losses but she played 27 minutes against PR. They’re going to need a similar performance against the center rotation of Brittney Griner, Tina Charles, and Sylvia Fowles. Charles had her best game of the Olympics so far with 15 points and five rebounds on 6-9 shooting coming off of the bench for coach Dawn Staley.

Player to watch: A’ja Wilson

The best player in the W has been on it all Olympics long. Wilson had another excellent game, this time with a 22 point, seven rebounds, and two steal game. Wilson is money at the elbows and in the post and Team USA’s offense has looked at its best when they have run things through her. Now that we’re at the most important games, look for the team to feature her even more heavily.

From the Vault

Not going too far today as we’re looking at the tuneup the two teams played last month

More reading: Swish Appeal