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Week on the Punt: Only 22 teams in NBA’s radical return plan

Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James

Footy is back and more leagues are on the way, so it’s all about the good news right now. Here are this week’s top stories in world sport.

NRL return confirms new flag favourite

The return of the NRL last week was a massive success that will be used as an example for other competitions around the world that hope to resume in 2020.

The controversial decision to include fake crowd noises proved a surprise hit, while fans were pleasantly surprised by the pace and quality of play.

Perhaps the biggest talking point from the first week is the Canberra Raiders, who have moved into $5 favouritism in the NRL Premiership betting after beating the Storm in Melbourne.

Keep an eye on the Manly Sea Eagles too, as they shortened from $11 into $9 for the flag after demolishing the Bulldogs by 26 points.

For a detailed look at the first week back, check out our NRL Round 3 review.

NBA set to resume with only 22 teams

At long last, the NBA has released details regarding how the league plans to make its return.

It is not happy days everywhere, however, as several teams will be culled for the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA Championship.

The plan is to bring 22 teams to Orlando, Florida, in a special facility where players, coaches, staff and officials will relaunch the season.

Only the top 13 teams in the Western Conference and the top nine teams in the Eastern Conference will take part, meaning it’s game over for the Hornets, Bulls, Knicks, Pistons, Hawks, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Warriors.

Each team will play a further eight matches in the regular season and there will be a play-in for the eighth playoff spot in each conference, all taking place from July 31 to October 12.

The play-in component will see the current eighth seed take on the ninth seed in a mini-series. The incumbent will need to win only one of those games to advance to the playoffs, while the challenger will need to win two matches to go through.

GWS Giants pushing for AFL to bring back crowds

In a bizarre attempt to fill up the stadiums early in the rebooted AFL season, the GWS Giants have filed a request to allow 350 patrons to enter GIANTS Stadium for their round two clash.

The current restrictions in New South Wales allow 50 people in restaurants at once, so the Giants are going to try and fill all seven of their corporate hospitality facilities.

This push could lead to other clubs trying their own methods to bring crowds back as soon as possible, but the task will be harder in Victoria as the restrictions still only allow 20 people at once in public areas.

By the end of June and middle of July when restrictions are further eased, clubs in Queensland and New South Wales could begin to bring back crowds in some form.

Gillon McLachlan is keen to have crowds return to the AFL as soon as possible, and this could be the first step to finding a formula to make it happen.

Federer becomes the highest-paid athlete in the world

Top athletes have earned big money for many decades now, but Roger Federer is taking the mickey at age 38.

It is quite common to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James near the summit of the Forbes rich list for sports stars, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it an unusual financial year for the sporting world.

Federer is an exception because he makes more money from endorsements than any other current athlete in the world, raking in a ridiculous AUD $154 million for 2020.

The next three athletes in Forbes’ 2020 rankings are all soccer stars, with Portuguese legend Ronaldo ($152m) edging out Barcelona’s Lionel Messi ($150m) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar ($138m).

F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo was the sole Aussie to make the top 100 with his $42 million, while NBA star Ben Simmons is poised to make the 2021 list following his massive contract upgrade with the Philadelphia 76ers.

UFC 250 to kick off this Sunday

A women’s featherweight title is up for grabs this Sunday when UFC 250 kicks off in Las Vegas.

There will be plenty of fights to keep an eye on throughout the day, but the main card is filled with exciting bantamweight bouts.

UFC prodigy Sean O’Malley will enter the octagon in the main card, and this is a fighter you need to see to believe.

See our latest UFC betting tips to find out more.

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