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Team USA looks to bring home the gold vs. Japan

2020 Tokyo Olympics: USA v Serbia Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Forty minutes away. The United States Women’s National team is one win away from gold after they dominated Serbia in the semifinals. A win would lead to the USA claiming their seventh straight gold medal in Olympic basketball.

The opponent tonight will be Japan. Japan made it here after beating France in the semifinals. Japan is guaranteed their first ever medal in Olympic basketball after this. Wouldn’t it be something if the home team took home the gold in their first ever final?

Where to follow the game

Same drill as the men’s finals. NBC is the place to be. Tip off after 10:30 PM.

Injuries

Diana Taurasi was favoring her hip and has been dealing with a nagging wrist injury. She’ll be out there though.

All good for the host country.

The game

Team USA won the first meeting earlier in the Olympics.

The Team USA men's team has been coming out to the games to support their sisters, and they're feeling great after beating France in a classic gold medal game last night. You love to see it.

One thing that’s been evident throughout the Olympics is that the USA has not done the best job at handling ball pressure. They’re second in the Olympics in turnovers at 17.8 per game while Japan is very last with 10.6. Not to be outdone, Japan is forcing teams to commit almost 15 turnovers a game and baited the USA into 17 turnovers in their first meeting. The US has struggled holding on to the ball and now that we’re at the end of the tournament, they’re going to need to keep it to a manageable enough number so as not to get picked off by Japan. If they get too loose and Japan gets hot from three, you never know.

To offset the turnovers, Team USA will look to muscle Japan on the interior. That was the name of the game in the first game as the USA won the rebounding battle by 15. Brittney Griner was particularly effective as she scored 15 points with five rebounds as six of her seven field goals were by the rim.

Playing for your country is always an honor, and doing it with your hero as head coach is extra special. Skylar Diggins-Smith spoke about what playing for Coach Dawn Staley has meant to her:

“I was just beyond words. The history of the number, and what she meant to me growing up. It’s just amazing because it feels like everything has come full-circle.”

Team USA needs good ballhandling against a team that creates pressure like Japan, so Diggins-Smith could play a role tonight. She missed the first meeting due to injury.

These Olympics have been a showcase for Rui Machada. She set an Olympic record with 18 assists against France and is averaging almost 14 assists per game in the Olympics. Machada is an awesome distributor and as Japan scrambles to get open looks against a tough USA defense, she'll look to make things as easy as possible.

Is this the last ride for two basketball legends? If Team USA wins, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will have earned their fifth gold medals, the most for any basketball player ever. After struggling early to find her shot, Bird has gone 8-11 from the field over the last three games with seven of her makes coming from downtown. We talked about Team USA’s turnover bugaboos, but Bird has been exempt as she’s only coughed it up once in the last three games.

If Taurasi is less than 100 percent, Chelsea Gray will be someone who will create shots on the perimeter for Team USA. Gray filled in admirably in the second and scored 14 points on 5/6 shooting. Gray can get her own shot and gives the USA one more quality scoring option.

Player to watch: A’ja Wilson

One more game to glory. The 2020 WNBA MVP hasn’t played much in the past two games as she hasn’t cracked the 20 minute plateau since the game against France. It pays to have depth and superstars like Breanna Stewart carrying the offensive burden. However, Wilson has been the best player on the court when she’s played and had a particularly excellent game against Japan the first time around with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. Stewart and Wilson will look to dominate

From the Vault

Let’s take it back to the beginning

More reading: Swish Appeal

One final note...

On behalf of Chris Milholen, myself, and the entire NetsDaily team, I wanted to thank all of you for rocking with us as we covered the Olympics. It's an honor writing for you guys and I hope our writing was fun, enjoyable, and helped you get ready for the women's and men's games. It's been a pleasure and I'll see y'all on the other side!