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🏀NBA Season Preview

October 19, 2021
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY

The WNBA season has come to a close (congrats again to the Chicago Sky!), but men’s basketball is here to fill some of the void. It’s time for the NBA season.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"When you're in the championships, it's never about what you do. It's always about what other people do."

— Four-time NBA champion-turned-basketball analyst Shaquille O’Neal on winning the Larry O’Brien trophy. Wonder what his NBA on TNTfrenemy and two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker has to say about that.

⚙️ Season setup

SOURCE: SARAH STIER/GETTY IMAGES

The last pro league to return to normal, the NBA is tipping off its October-to-April regular season tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET with a match between the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets.

But before we look ahead, here’s a quick overview of how the season is set up. The NBA is split evenly into two conferences — 15 teams in the Eastern Conference (EC) and 15 teams in the Western Conference (WC).

  • From there, each conference has three five-team divisions: The EC’s Atlantic, Central and Southeast, and the WC’s Northwest, Pacific and Southwest.

Each team will play 82 games — 41 at home and 41 away. The six teams with the best regular-season records in each conference move on to the playoffs, while the seventh through 10th seeds compete in a play-in tournament for the last two remaining playoff spots in each conference. Bring on the drama.

🏆 Reigning champs

SOURCE: JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

Milwaukee Bucks: The defending champs are in a prime position to do it all over again, and that’s because their core roster hardly changed in the offseason.

  • Most importantly, NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YAH-niss ah-det-oh-KOON-boh) is back to lead his team to greatness with the help of his brother and 2020 Olympic gold medalists Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

💪 The contenders

SOURCE: MITCHELL LEFF/GETTY IMAGES

Brooklyn Nets: According to the annual NBA general managers’ survey, the Nets are the team to beat, and TBH, we agree. Kevin Durant (KD) is somehow still at the top of his game as he enters his 15th year in the league, James Harden and Blake Griffin continue to produce, and unvaccinated Kyrie Irving can’t be a distraction if he’s not allowed in the locker room.

LA Lakers: With so much star power they could make NASA jealous, the best team in SoCal (sorry not sorry, Clippers) is looking to repeat their 2020 success. They have LeBron James at the helm, Anthony Davis at his side and former Washington Wizard Russell Westbrook set to make his hometown debut.

  • All the tools for a championship...as long as they stay healthy.

Utah Jazz: The good news? The Jazz haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2015-2016 season. The bad news? They haven’t made it past the conference semifinals (aka the second round) during that time.

  • But after posting the NBA’s best regular-season record last season, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert (pronounced goh-BEAR) and the boys have what they need to make a deep postseason run.

👀 Storylines to watch

SOURCE: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

Swan songs: The Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul is 36 years old. So is LeBron James, and his Lakers teammate Dwight Howard is 35. The Miami Heat’s Kyle Lowry, too. Some of the game’s best may play like they’re still in their prime, but their NBA days are numbered. Could this be the last season for some of these legends?

Trades: There are a lot of unhappy men in the NBA these days, meaning we could see some big-name trades early in the season. Kyrie Irving can’t play with his team at home, Ben Simmons wants out of Philadelphia ASAP (maybe), and the yet-again-injured Zion Williamson’s family is reportedly done with New Orleans. Spicy.

📺 How to watch

SOURCE: SARAH STIER/GETTY IMAGES

All the fun starts tonight. Tune in to TNT in the U.S. and TSN in Canada for the opening tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET, and then check out the full schedule here to find out when your favorite team is taking to the court.

🏈

Sports Quick Hits: October 18th, 2021

October 18, 2021
Source: Tony Quinn/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Source: Tony Quinn/ISI Photos/Getty Images

⚽️NWSL: With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the six-team NWSL playoff picture is coming into focus. The Washington Spirit clinched a postseason berth over the weekend, joining the Portland Thorns (who secured the 2021 NWSL Shield yesterday) and OL Reign. Coming for you, November.

🎓🏈College football: Week 7 saw last week’s chaos and said hold my beer, bringing upsets aplenty and big changes to the AP Top 25 poll. Notable surprises include previously unranked Purdue topping previously ranked No. 2 Iowa, and previously unranked Auburn downing previously ranked No. 17 Arkansas.

Speaking of shockers, two years removed from winning a national title and one day removed from an upset win over Florida, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron will be out of a job at the end of the season. You can geaux your own way...

🏀Chicago Sky claim 2021 WNBA championship

October 18, 2021
Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Game 4 recap: After Friday’s massive Game 3 win at home, the Chicago Sky entered yesterday’s Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead and a chance to clinch the title. The Phoenix Mercury jumped out to an early lead, but the Sky stormed back to win 80–74 in front of a(nother) soldout hometown crowd.

  • Parker and Courtney Vandersloot both posted double-doubles while Allie Quigley (Vandersloot’s wife, okay power couple) netted 26 points, helping to make Chicago just the third city to win NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS and WNBA titles. Damn, Chi-Town.
  • And, as we mentioned, Kahleah Copper was named finals MVP after averaging over 17 points per game in the postseason. Well deserved.

Of note: In an unprecedented move, the Mercury declined to attend the post-game press conference following yesterday’s loss. It’s an evolving situation with many journalists sharing complicated feelings about it. Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s episode of The GIST of It for more.

What’s next: The WNBA’s 25th anniversary season did not disappoint. The Mercury’s Diana Taurasi was named the GOAT, the league saw surging viewership, and with the first final since 2016 not featuring a No. 1 seed in the books, the competition has never been more balanced.

  • So what comes next? Sky’s the limit.

Preview of Game 3 in the MLB Championship Series

October 18, 2021
Source: Atlanta Braves/Twitter
Source: Atlanta Braves/Twitter

American League (AL): After the Houston Astros came back to win Friday’s Game 1, the Boston Red Sox made postseason history in Saturday’s Game 2, becoming the first team to hit two grand slams in the same playoff game and helping to solidify their 9–5 win.

  • The 1-1 series now heads to Boston, with Game 3’s first pitch tonight at 8:08 p.m. ET.

National League (NL): In a rematch of last year’s NLCS, the Atlanta Braves walked off to win Saturday’s Game 1, partially thanks to third baseman Austin Riley’s clutch single and LA Dodger Chris Taylor’s baserunning mistake. Yikes.

  • And the Braves kept the party going yesterday, winning 5–4 to take a 2-0 series lead, thanks to yet another walk-off. Lucky for the Dodgers, the series now shifts to LA for tomorrow’s crucial Game 3 at 5:08 p.m. ET. Maybe the third time will be the charm?

🏈Weekend highlights from the NFL

October 18, 2021
Source: Jaguars/Twitter
Source: Jaguars/Twitter
  • At long last, the Jacksonville Jaguars — led by rookie quarterback (QB) Trevor Lawrence — finally snapped their 20-game losing streak yesterday, defeating the Miami Dolphins 23–20 behind kicker Matthew Wright’s game-winning field goal.
  • How about another last-minute win? Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins connected with wide receiver (WR) K.J. Osborn for the game-winning touchdown (TD) in their 34–28 overtime win over the Carolina Panthers. Doing Lizzo proud.
  • Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins used some fancy footwork to score one of his two TDs in the Cardinals 37–14 win over the Cleveland Browns. The unbeaten streak continues.
  • If you’re not ready for Week 6 to end quite yet, you’re in luck. QB Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills face running back Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans tonight at 8:15 p.m. ET. We’ll be waiting all day for Monday night.