The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – 7 Aug
The world of sport is electric right now – it’s about time we amped it up.
As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly eases its grip on the world of sports, leagues around the world are finally opening the doors again; resulting in an absolute smorgasbord of sports to watch. We have NHL and NBA playoffs, a short and dynamic MLB season underway, NRL, AFL, heck, even the Champions league is on this week. If there was ever a time to be a sports fan, stuck in isolation, now is that time. Of course, with so much to choose from it can be difficult to know who to watch – and who to back – so I’ve trawled the weekend ahead to give you, my loyal reader, a direct pipeline of the best of the best in the sporting world.
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
The NBA came back just last week, and it’s honestly like it never left. The bubble was one of the sporting worlds’ best reactions to the virus, and we – as fans – get to reap the benefits of that. Every single day is jam-packed full of the best NBA action we’ve seen in a long time, and Friday morning is no exception.
Houston Rockets v LA Lakers
The best team in the West take on the best team in the Bubble for this absolute prime matchup on Friday morning. The Lakers, helmed by Lebron and AD, had a shaky start to the bubble – but they’ve solidified their position as the first seed so really have nothing left to gain. They’ll be looking to beat the Bucks out for the overall top seed, as well as getting in some playoffs practice, so don’t expect them to treat this game as a throwaway. The Rockets, with their new brand of small-ball, have been stellar since play resumed, and are looking more and more likely to clinch a good seeding position. A win against the Lakers would work wonders towards achieving that, and show that you don’t need a big man to win big games.
I think this one will come down to who wants it more. The Lakers really have nothing to lose, and after a disappointing showing on Thursday are unlikely to fully commit their big names to the full four quarters. The Rockets will come in full of desperation, hoping to launch themselves up the ladder, and I think that’ll be enough to get them the win. I expect Harden to have a great game, with Lebron and AD saving themselves for when it really matters. Rockets should take this one with relative ease.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Rockets to Win
SATURDAY – MLB
Just before the NBA graced us with a return to our screens, MLB got its season up and running; in a dynamic 60-game shortened format. As a result of this new season length, every match matters twice as much, and teams have far less time for excuses or bad games. Two of the better teams in the comp are facing off in an intra-division series that could have repercussions which echo through the league.
LA Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
The Dodgers and Giants were two teams who, coming into this season, could have expected to win it all. However, after some shaky starts (9-4 and 6-7 respectively), one would be forgiven for questioning whether either team had it in them to take out the NL West. A lot of questions will be answered come this series, and I’m excited to see how the standings look once the dust has settled. As much as I would like for the Giants to take home the bacon, I think the Dodgers might have their number here. LA has one of the best defences in the league, and their offence is certainly good enough to match the Giants’. I think it’ll be a close series, but LA should walk away with the spoils of Saturday’s game.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Dodgers to Win
SUNDAY – UEFA Champions League
Isn’t it just the best time to be a sports fan? With everything going on in America it might be easy to neglect European sport now that the domestic football leagues have wrapped up. But Europe’s top competition has just kicked off – and with games almost every day it’s bound to be full of absolute thrillers.
Bayern Munich v Chelsea FC
On Sunday morning, the Champions League will be serving us an absolute blinder, as the juggernauts of Germany take on an EPL stalwart. This clash is bound to be an absolute marvel, and it’s nigh on impossible for me to pick a winner here. Most tipsters would back Bayern to get it done in crunch time, given their domestic success this year, but I can’t seem to justify ruling out Chelsea here. They’re a young squad with a peppy manager, and now that the league is finished they can afford to leave it all on the field. For some reason, my gut is telling me to pick Chelsea here – and I think I’m going to listen to it.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Chelsea to win
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.