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Week on the Punt: AFL bonanza kicks off as NBA returns

Simmons in doubt for crunch games

It was only a couple of months ago that we had nothing to watch, but August is shaping up to be a huge month for sport worldwide. Here are this week’s major headlines and highlights.

Richmond secures perfect start to AFL footy festival

Even though the Western Bulldogs came from $2.10 during the week to $1.60 before the first bounce, the Richmond Tigers came out and obliterated the 2016 premiers on Wednesday night.

Damien Hardwick’s men needed a big win this week to keep the squad in the premiership conversation, but they may even rival the West Coast Eagles in the betting by the end of round nine after the clinical performance whilst undermanned.

That was the first game out of 33 that are scheduled to take place in a mammoth 20-day stretch encompassing four rounds of the 2020 AFL Premiership.

Big matches coming up this week include Melbourne vs Port Adelaide, Essendon vs Brisbane Lions, and West Coast vs Geelong, and we’ve got free AFL betting tips for all three games.

NBA returns with Western Conference Finals preview

The NBA is finally back!

After months of no matches where the world’s best basketball league looked like it wouldn’t return, the NBA has found a way after creating its own bubble in Florida’s Disney World Resort.

The first two matches back will be ones to watch, with the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans clashing at 8:30am AEST tomorrow before the Battle for Los Angeles at 11am.

Zion Williamson and the Pelicans need to win every game in order to secure a position in the playoffs, while Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz have no intention of letting New Orleans get close.

In the other game, we could see four of the best players in the NBA take the court at the same time as LeBron James and Anthony Davis take on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

We like the Lakers in this one given the Clippers are missing Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley, although the balance could shift if Davis is forced out with a lingering eye problem.

Ash Barty won’t compete in 2020 US Open due to COVID-19

The world no.1 in women’s tennis will not travel to the United States to compete in the US Open, as Ash Barty doesn’t want to risk contracting COVID-19.

The USA continues to record uncomfortable levels of confirmed new cases, which could see many players skip this year’s major in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Barty will look to defend her title at the French Open later in September, but you can never be sure what decisions will be made in the lead-up to that event either.

Other female superstars including Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep will not compete at the US Open this year, while Aussie men Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur and John Millman are expected to attend.

NRL merger suggested to reduce teams in Sydney

With nine clubs located in the city of Sydney, the NRL may need to make some big decisions to ease the financial strain on the competition.

NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler believes a handful of teams need to merge to help the league stay afloat in the coming years after COVID-19, as the current make-up of teams is not sustainable.

Fittler believes the Cronulla Sharks and St George Illawarra Dragons should merge to form a mega-team covering southern Sydney and the Wollongong region.

He also believes the West Tigers and Penrith Panthers should do the same in the outer western suburbs, saying the Tigers – a joint-venture between Balmain and Western Suburbs – are suffering from an identity crisis.

The NRL originally had plans to create a new Brisbane-based team, but the league may now need to consider trimming down rather than expanding.

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