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Weekend Watch Guide: September 11-13

Jeff Griffith (@Jeff_Griffith21)

September 10, 2020

For the next couple of months, we’re going to have a sports utopia.


There are literally six major professional sports leagues playing right now, with college football to boot. Three of those leagues are in the playoffs.


Deciding what to focus on is going to be a tall order; a multi-screen set up is probably going to be your friend. As such, we’re going to do our best to help you plan out your weekend viewing.


All times listed are in Eastern Time.


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11


6:05 PM — Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals


Don’t look now, but soon, the MLB’s playoff races are going to be red-hot, and each day there will be a new games with major postseason implications. But today is not that day. That said, there’s plenty of entertainment value in a team scoring almost 30 runs — as the Braves just recently did to Washington — so here’s hoping that happens again. As such, this one seems worth turning into.


8:00 PM — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, Game 3


The Lightning have been pretty routine in punching out opponents in the bubble, but for the first hour or so of this game, it may be worth a shot to see if the Islanders can stay alive in the series. Game 2 was a barnburner with a game-winning goal scored in the final 10 seconds, so — while the Raptors’ and Celtics’ final game should be the head-and-shoulders highlight of the night — it may be worthwhile to keep flipping back to NBC, in case things get exciting up in Edmonton again.


8:15 PM — Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins


Okay, 30 runs are fun, but this one actually means something. Friday opens up a gigantic three-game series between two of the three teams fighting for playoff position in the AL Central — the third being the Chicago White Sox. The top two teams in each division get automatic playoff spots this year, and these three are all separated by just a game, so as of now, this race is the most exciting by far. Minnesota currently leads the season series 4-3.


9:00 PM — Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics, Game 7


This one goes without saying. Toronto — a team with everything to prove — narrowly avoided going down 3-0, somehow tied things at two games apiece, and has now forced a game seven with Wednesday’s double overtime win. Toronto and Boston have been throwing metaphorical haymakers for a week and a half now, and came close to throwing real ones after game six.


Watch as much of this one as you can, and — if you’re on east coast time — crash when it’s over. You’ve still got two full days ahead of you.


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12


11:00 AM — ESPN College GameDay


Remember how weird it was to watch the NFL Draft with everything happening remotely? I expect a similar feeling during GameDay. And beyond that, a little coffee and GameDay on a Saturday morning always brings back the good feelings.


There aren’t really any great college football matchups on Saturday, so I’d recommend being prepared to flip between as many as possible. There’s bound to be a couple of thrillers around the country, and there are some fun players you can get a look at as well. Here’s a couple of suggestions that stick out, to at least check in on now and then.


12:00 PM — Syracuse vs. No. 18 North Carolina: Come for Sam Howell. Stay for Dino Babers’ offense. Leave after UNC goes up by 20 in the second quarter.


12:00 PM — Louisiana vs. No. 23 Iowa State: Louisiana was kind of fun last year, and Iowa State is sneaky good. Take a series or two and check out sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy.


2:30 PM — Duke vs. No. 10 Notre Dame: At the end of this game, Notre Dame is going to have a conference win-loss record. That’s wild.


3:30 PM — Georgia Tech vs. Florida State: This is, like, the only P5 vs. P5 game with a chance of being close. And, hey, maybe FSU will finally be good again this year.


~~~


3:00 PM — Las Vegas Aces vs. Los Angeles Sparks


The WNBA is getting into its finally regular season games, and seeding spots are up for grabs. The top two teams in the league get a double-bye and avoid playing in single elimination rounds, so this game is key. As it currently stands, the Aces (three games left) lead the Sparks (two games left) by half a game for the No. 2 seed, so this one’s pretty key. Come for the playoff implications, and stay for the likes of A’ja Wilson and Candace Parker balling out.


7:30 PM — Clemson Tigers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons


But just the first half. You’re really only here so you can watch Trevor Lawrence in his final season debut, balling out against one of the many mediocre defenses he’ll face in 2020.


8:00 PM — Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights, Game 4


Of the NHL’s two conference finals series, this is the one that appears most likely to go the distance, but it’s tough to say for sure. It’s currently tied at one game each, but Vegas took the most recent installment pretty soundly, by a final of 3-0. As such, game four could be pivotal; someone’s going to be up 2-1, conventional wisdom says it’ll be the Knights, and Saturday night could therefore be their chance to start to wrap their gloves around a western conference title.


8:07 PM — Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers


Between Astros-Dodgers and Clemson-Wake Forest, you should be able to get your fill of low-stakes, high-entertainment sports before Rockets-Lakers reaches crunch time. Record-wise, this isn’t quite the battle of heavyweights it’s been in the past, but recent bouts between the two have produced fisticuffs, and what’s better than a baseball fight?


Oh, yeah, I suppose there were a couple of World Series meetings mixed in there, too.


9:00 PM — Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5


But just the second half. Keep Astros-Dodgers on the backburner just in case things get hairy, but the latter portion of Game 5 should be the headliner for Saturday night. There’s a good chance we’ll see back-against-the-wall Harden and Westbrook, which is usually a good recipe for fireworks.


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13


Okay, to be honest, you should definitely consume as many Week 1 games as you can, in my opinion. It’s tough to tell you what to watch with the way NFL regionally broadcasts — not to mention if you have streaming options like Sunday Ticket, you’re likely to be watching several games at once, as you should — but these are just the games I see as the most intriguing in each time slot.


There are plenty of good non-NFL games on Sunday, but the excitement of a new sport’s return definitely makes it the focal point of the day. If you’re not the NFL type, though, you’ve got: Orioles vs. Yankees (12:15 PM), Indians vs. Twins (2:10 PM), Aces vs. Storm (3:00 PM), Lightning vs. Islanders (Game 4, 3:00 PM) and potentially, Nuggets vs. Clippers (Game 6, TBD).


1:00 PM — Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings


To be honest, the 1:00 time slot on Sunday is kind of weak. It’ll be fun to watch rookies and new players on new teams, like Philip Rivers against Jacksonville, Cam Newton as a Patriot, Henry Ruggs’ debut with Las Vegas, and so forth — not to mention Lamar Jackson bullying the Browns — but in terms of quality matchups, Packers-Vikings is the way to go. This game should set the tone for the NFC North race, and give us a glimpse into how much these teams’ offseasons changed the landscape of the division, if at all.


4:25 PM ET — Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints


This one’s obvious, right? The newest-look team in the NFL, by far, faces off with one of its biggest — and, definitely the most talented — divisional foes. Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski, not to mention Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, all joining forces to take on one of the most consistently good teams in the NFC over the past three years. Sign me up.


I’ll actually probably spend most of my time watching my Cardinals play San Francisco, but you shouldn’t do that.


8:00 PM — Los Angeles Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys (Or Nuggets vs. Clippers)


The Rams intrigue me greatly; was 2018 or 2019 the more realistic picture of this team? Will they revert back to some sort of mean or are Goff, Kupp and company truly not that good? And of course, the Cowboys now boast one of the league’s most talented offenses, with guys like Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott and Michael Gallup, as well as the new addition of CeeDee Lamb at receiver. This should be a fun one, and it should have a pretty hefty amount of scoring.


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