Weekend Watch Guide: September 18-20
Jeff Griffith (Jeff_Griffith21)
September 17, 2020
For the time being, we’re locked in 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 18
Oddly enough, there’s not much going on Friday. Obviously, there’s no NFL Football, the only college game involves Campbell and Coastal Carolina, there’s no baseball on National TV, the WNBA won’t be picking up again until Sunday, and the NHL has the night off. So, you’ve got your night cut out for you in regards to sports.
9:00 PM — Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets, Game 1
This one should have all the attention in Friday primetime. In the last three games especially of their 4-1 series win over Houston, LeBron James and company looked like we’ve all been expecting them to be in the postseason. They clamped down and didn’t even really make it interesting. James and Davis were their All-NBA selves. The Nuggets, however, just stormed back to upset what many considered to be the Lakers’ best competition, period. So, Friday night starts the proving ground. Can Denver legitimize itself on the big stage? Or will LeBron do what LeBron does best? This should be a fun one.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19
12:00 PM — Baylor Bears vs. Houston Cougars
Was the Bears’ magical 2019 season legitimate? This is the chance to find out. Houston is always a formidable opponent that can hang with most Big 12 schools, so Baylor will have its work cut out for it in proving that last year wasn’t a fluke.
3:30 PM — UCF Knights vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Okay, maybe Georgia Tech isn’t that bad? Or is Florida State actually that bad? The Yellow Jackets won in Tallahassee in one of last week’s bigger shockers, and this week they’ll be back in Atlanta for their home opener. The opponent is probably one of the three toughest on Tech’s schedule, so it’ll be interesting to get a further gauge on what last week’s GT-FSU result really showed, and it’s always fun to see UCF take a shot at a power five school.
Throughout the day on Saturday, MLB has a handful of intriguing games on national television as the playoff push heats up. The most notable ones...
7:05 PM — Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles — who entered this season with little hope of any positive outcomes — are fighting for a wild card spot against the AL’s top team. The Rays, on the other end, are looking to pull away from New York and lock up their first division title in a decade.
7:15 PM — Chicago White Sox vs. Cincinnati Reds: Chicago has a prime chance to gain a stranglehold on the AL Central, but it’ll have to go through a Cincinnati team that has won five in a row and has plenty to play for, now sitting squarely on the playoff bubble.
8:15 PM — Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago Cubs: Minnesota’s right there in the AL Central race with the White Sox, and the Cubs are about as strong an opponent the Twins will face as they try to fight for a division crown. But this weekend may be the Cubs’ chance to all but lock up their own division, so it’s an equally key opportunity for the home side.
8:00 PM — Islanders vs. Lightning, Game 6
The Lightning looked prepared to wrap up this series in five after taking game four 4-1. But the Islanders aren’t done just yet; New York started this series by losing 8-2, but with a heroic 2-1 victory in game six, the Isles just need to win one more to force a deciding game on what would be Monday. Tampa Bay is the favorite, but we’ve seen plenty of 3-1 leads dissolve into game sevens across sports this year, and this one is just as plausible as the rest.
8:30 PM — Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, Game 3
Game one of this series was so fun. We saw good production of all of the key pieces — Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart — in what is arguably one of the most fun and outside-the-box conference finals matchups we’ve had in years. It went to overtime, Tatum beat Butler off the dribble with a chance to take the lead n the final seconds, and Adebayo came up with the block of a lifetime. If you’re a basketball fan, and game one is any indication of what this series can be, you should be glued to your TV for this one.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
The matchups aren’t yet set for the WNBA’s semifinal series, but those will get kicked off Sunday at 1 PM and 3 PM on ESPN networks. What we do know is that the Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces will be the favorites, as they, the top two seeds, await the re-seeded winners from Thursday’s second-round games in order to start the best-of-five semifinal round.
The favored matchups for Sunday and beyond are Las Vegas-Los Angeles and Seattle-Minnesota, but the Phoenix Mercury, which will duel Minnesota for the right to (likely, as long as the Sparks can beat No. 7 Seed Connecticut), has one of the league’s best 1-2-3 punches in Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittany Griner, and will be a tough out even as the No. 5 Seed.
This article series, of course, limits to Friday, Saturday and Sunday action, but Thursday night, Mercury-Lynx is arguably the highlight game. These two split their season series, with the most recent iteration coming down to the wire in a 83-79 Mercury win.
Both of the WNBA’s semifinal series-opening games will be worth having on in the early afternoon block Sunday. Simultaneously, though, we’ll have another full slate of NFL football. And if you could only have one game on for each time slot…
1:00 PM — Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts
This is my sneaky matchup of the week, featuring two teams that I personally expected to be relatively strong in 2020, both of which picked up Week 1 losses. The Vikings’ loss — a 43-34 shootout against an always-formidable Green Bay team — was respectable, but the Colts’ — a seven-point loss at Jacksonville — was shocking. I’m curious to see if last week was just a fluke and Indianapolis can wake up and turn it around at home, but the Vikings are about as tough an 0-1 opponent as there is, and as such, it’ll be tough for the Colts to avoid a dreaded 0-2 hole.
4:25 PM — Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans
Conventional wisdom might give this slot to Kansas City-Los Angeles, but I just don’t think the Chargers are that good. I don’t think the Texans are that good either, but even without DeAndre Hopkins, this team ought to be at least a Wild Card contender, and it showed at least some signs of that down the stretch against the Chiefs. But much like Indianapolis, Houston could bounce back at home, but will have to do so against the other most prolific offense in the game in order to also avoid 0-2.
8:20 PM — New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
Okay, so Cam and company beat Miami at home. The Dolphins took a step forward this offseason, but that’s firmly in the “should-win” category. This one’s different. I don’t expect the Patriots to win, or even make it super close, but there’s a chance. We don’t know what New England’s ceiling is with Cam Newton, but we likely will on Sunday, for better or worse. So, come for those intriguing implications and stay for two electric quarterbacks doing what they do best in primetime.