It would take a couple of Aron Baynes-sized upsets for either Australia or Lithuania to miss the knockout stages of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, but Tuesday's meeting is still undoubtedly important for positioning in Group D.
With wins in its first two games, Lithuania currently sits atop the group in a tie with Slovenia. Jonas Kazlauskas' team has hardly been challenged, though, disposing of Mexico and Angola by 13 points each.
Australia, meanwhile, ran into the Super Dragic—But Mostly Goran—Brothers (we probably need a snappier nickname) and Slovenia in an opening day 10-point loss, but it bounced back with a 34-point drubbing of poor South Korea.
Let's take a closer look at everything you need to know about what should be one of the best games of the group.
Date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Time: 4:30 p.m. GMT+1 (local), 11:30 a.m. ET
Where: Gran Canaria Arena, Las Palmas, Spain
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Australia Key Player: Matthew Dellavedova
Given the keys to the offense instead of tantalizing NBA rookie Dante Exum (Dellavedova has averaged 26 minutes per game; Exum 12), Matthew Dellavedova has produced mixed results.
In the loss against Slovenia, he was severely outplayed by Dragic, going 1-of-7 from the field with five assists and five turnovers. He turned it around against South Korea, however, piling up seven points, eight assists and just two turnovers to go with a plus/minus of plus-21.
While Delly was used as a no-nonsense role player in his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he is able to play a little more fast and loose with the Boomers. EuroleagueAdventures.com's Sam Meyerkopf sees that as a positive:
Dellavedova is such an efficient player/game manager great to see when he plays risky. Long passes, floaters, whirly drives. Go wild Delly.— Sam Meyerkopf (@HoopLikeDrazen) August 31, 2014
Lithuania has been experimenting with some different lineups, but one that has worked effectively features shooting guard Renaldas Seibutis as the team's de facto floor general.
While he hasn't put up massive numbers, Seibutis has arguably turned into Lithuania's most important player in that role. Through two games, he has nine assists to just three turnovers and leads Lithuania in minutes (31 per game), steals (three) and plus/minus (plus-35).
Dellavedova will have to be at his best in this one.
Lithuania Key Player: Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas has been dominant so far for Lithuania, averaging 14.0 points on 12-of-15 shooting, 9.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in just 25.0 minutes per game. Against Mexico, he made all eight of his shots en route to 17 points and five boards in 22 minutes of action.
Meyerkopf approved his physical play:
Valanciunas is such a hard worker. So physical, fights crazily for every rebounds. He makes sure every opponent leaves with bruises.— Sam Meyerkopf (@HoopLikeDrazen) August 31, 2014
Of course, the 7-footer has enjoyed a massive size advantage in the first two games, matching up with the likes of 6'9" Gustavo Ayon and 6'6" Eduardo Mingas. While he's capable of stretching the floor, he has mostly done his work on the inside against Mexico and Angola.
Australia, on the other hand, isn't nearly as size-challenged.
Baynes is 6'10", David Anderson is 7'0", Brock Motum is 6'10" and Cameron Bairstow is 6'9". Moreover, Baynes and Bairstow, in particular, love to play physical.
The battle on the interior is going to be an absolute war, and it will be the most important aspect in deciding this game.
Who wins this one?
Australia is solid, and this one should be close, but Lithuania has just a little bit more talent.
It has two international studs in Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas in the frontcourt, while Seibutis and Martynas Pocius have played extremely well so far, holding down the guard positions.
Prediction: Australia 77, Lithuania 83