The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – 20 Aug
There has never been a better time to be a sports fan…
Blink and you’ll miss it. In this post-COVID(ish) sporting Mecca, there’s more games, tournaments, playoffs and matchups than anyone could have ever imagined, and it’s nigh on impossible to catch it all.
The NBA has reached its bubble playoffs, the NHL is doing the same in the Hubs, NRL, AFL, UCL and UFC are all in full swing with no signs of slowing. If there existed a sporting heaven – this right here would be it. But, with so much action, it’s hard to know what to prioritise. Do I watch Lebron? Lamar? Lacazette?
Fortunately for you, my fellow reader, I’ve done the hard yards already… and can now present you with the three most exciting games to watch this weekend – if you’re going to watch any sport at all, make sure you watch these.
As always in this column, I’ll explore what Australians can look forward to in this weekend of sports – focusing on a different sport for each day – and provide the tips that I feel most confident in based on my research, analysis and expert intuition.
FRIDAY – NBA
It’s Dame Time.
Usually, in the NBA, when the one seed faces the eight it’s a generally dull affair; many have ended in a sweep, and most just aren’t worth taking the time to analyse. But this year it’s different. Portland fought tooth and nail to even be in the playoffs, and everyone knows they’ll take full advantage of the opportunity. Following the result in game one, pundits and fans alike around the world will tune in to see whether the momentum of the series will take any clear path.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers come into this series with so much left to prove. Lebron’s legacy is walking on a knife’s edge right now, and to bow out in the first round of the 2020 playoffs would do it no favours. The cast he’s built around him (AD, Kuzma, KCP, Dwight) should be good enough to go all the way, so if they can’t even beat Portland, then some serious questions will have to be asked.
Of course, that’s not to take anything away from Portland. Dame and CJ have been pinpoint accurate all season and Nurkic is a criminally underrated big man. They’re a decent team who will leave everything on the court to prove themselves as contenders. It’s about time we started to ‘put some respect on their name.’
So, how do I think this will play out? For starters, I don’t think the series will be a sweep (sorry Chuck). With that being said, I can see Portland taking a two game lead – from there, who knows? I like the Lakers team a lot, but they’ve been missing their razzle-dazzle in the bubble, and I can see that coming back to bite them in game two.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Portland to Win
SATURDAY – NRL
Back on home soil this Saturday and two teams with a lot left to prove this season have a big game on the cards. Souths and Manly have both performed relatively well thus far, but have been unfortunate with injuries and referee decisions all season long. They sit at 8th and 10th place on the table, and with only five games left to get into the eight, the result on Saturday could be huge.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Manly Sea Eagles
Souths come into this match with the upper hand. They’re less plagued by injury and have the points to stay in the eight (for now). With that being said, they’ll still need to treat this game seriously or risk dropping out of finals contention. Manly are a good squad with arguably the best coach in the league, and they’ll be looking to claw their way back up the ladder after a disappointing finish last week.
So, who do I think has it? Despite what the other tipsters believe, I’m picking Manly to walk away with the spoils here. Souths still have some issues to figure out and Manly are a well put-together side. I think both of these teams will ultimately make the eight, but on Saturday I’m siding with the Eagles.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Manly to Win
SUNDAY – UEFA Champions League
What do you give to two clubs who already have it all?
Honestly, when the semi-final matchups were set, I was hoping for anything but a Bayern-PSG final: a club with so much money against a club with so much glory, there really isn’t an underdog to root for here. But this is where we are, and this game is still bound to be a thriller – regardless of any contempt held towards one or both of these sides.
Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
PSG came into this as winners of Ligue 1, and Bayern as winners of the Bundesliga. European dominance would be the icing on the cake for either club. Bayern haven’t taken this trophy home since their stellar 2012/13 campaign, and PSG are yet to add this silverware to their collection at all (Marseilles are the only French team to have been so lucky).
Both are well-built squads with good pace down the wing and a sturdy defence. Both are terrifically coached and, with no domestic football left, can afford to leave it all on the pitch.
With my tip, I think I have to pick Bayern. They’ve had proven success in big games like this (and it helps that everyone hates them slightly less). It should be an exciting shootout, but I think that Germany will gain European bragging rights in this iteration of the champions league.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Bayern to lift the Trophy
Gamble Responsibly. Hunter and Bligh do not take any responsibility for any losses incurred.
Feature image: Dodgers Stadium. Photographed by Emma Griffiths. Image via Shutterstock.