The sports world is gradually finding its way back to a kind of normalcy, with more and more leagues coalescing around plans to return to work (in altered, socially-distant circumstances).
The NBA approved a plan to finish its regular season with 22 teams — nine from the Eastern Conference, 13 from the West — playing 8 additional regular season games to finalize seeding, followed by a 16-team playoff, potentially with a play-in tournament (it’s a little confusing). All games will be played at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and all players, families, and staff will be isolated within the park for the duration. Play is expected to start July 31. The NHL is also on track to resume its season in roughly the same timeframe.
But you’re here to read about Sports on Sling This Week, and you could be forgiven for thinking it looks like a (relatively) normal-looking sports schedule:
It’s going to be a busy week on the Worldwide Leader, starting with Saturday’s UFC 250 Prelims, featuring two featherweight and two middleweight fights (all guys), staring at 6pm ET. Set your DVR on Sunday for a 5pm marathon of all three Ali/Frazier fights, followed at 9 by the premiere of 30 for 30: Be Water, about martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Top Rank Boxing returns at 7pm ET Tuesday and Thursday, with Shakur Stevenson vs Felix Caraballo and Jessie Magdaleno vs Yenifel Vicente topping the respective cards. The German Cup holds semifinals Tuesday (FC Saarbrucken vs Bayer Leverkusen) and Wednesday (Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt), both at 2:30pm ET. And rounding things out, the Major League Baseball Draft is spread over two days, starting at 7pm ET Wednesday on ESPN, and 5pm ET Thursday on ESPN2.
Heartbroken fans still licking their wounds over Tom Brady’s snowbirding to Tampa may take comfort in reliving Super Bowl XXXIX, in which the Patriots squeaked out a 24-21 victory over the Eagles, at 7pm ET Friday. Bundesliga continues its resumed season with five matches this weekend: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig vs. SC Paderborn 07 both starting at 9:30am ET Saturday, on FS1 and FS2, respectively; Borussia Dortmund vs. Hertha Berlin at 12:20pm ET Saturday on FS2; and then a Sunday tripleheader of Werder Bremen vs. Vfl Wolfsburg at 7:20am ET, FC Union Berlin vs. Schalke 04 at 9:30am ET, and FC Augsburg vs. Cologne at 11:50am, all on FS1.
Elsewhere, the NASCAR Xfinity Series continues with the Echo Park 250 at 4:40 pm ET Saturday on FOX in select markets, while the Australian Football League returns from its COVID hiatus with Collingwood vs. Richmond at 5:30am ET on FS1.
Around the Horn...
PGA Tour Golf resumes at noon ET Thursday with The Charles Schwab Challenge, where Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Justin Thomas top the odds board. The first major tournament since the COVID-19 outbreak will continue through next weekend. IndyCar will restart its engines with the Genesys 300 from the Texas Motor Speedway. The race gets underway at 8pm ET on NBC (available in select markets). And, big-league soccer continues its piecemeal return, as Spain’s LaLiga restarts with Sevilla and Real Betis hitting the pitch at 3:50pm ET Thursday on beIN. Follow this link to catch up on everything you need to know before kickoff.