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News: NBA schedule leaks, World Cup, Smith and more

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The primary set of NBA schedule leaks includes the Grizzlies’ Christmas Day debut. Plus: the beginning of the World Cup has moved up a day; former SportsCenter anchor Michael Smith has a latest gig; and more.

Early NBA schedule leaks include Grizzlies’ first Christmas game

The Memphis Grizzlies are tentatively scheduled to play a Christmas Day game for the primary time in franchise history, per longtime NBA author Marc Stein. Memphis would face Golden State on the vacation in a rematch of their second round playoff series last season. Assuming the sport would air on ABC — a protected bet given the opponent — it could mark the primary time in franchise history that the Grizzlies played a national regular season game on broadcast television. The team’s only other regular season game on broadcast, against Phoenix on ABC in March 2005, aired regionally in lower than half of markets.

Grizzlies-Warriors is considered one of a handful of nationally televised games which have leaked in recent days. Stein also reported that the Lakers will face the Mavericks in Dallas on Christmas, the second time in three years that LeBron James and Luka Doncic have been set to face one another on the vacation.

As well as, The Athletic reported that the Warriors will open their title defense against the Lakers on Opening Night.

Per Stein, the NBA schedule is ready to be released this coming week. (Stein/Twitter 8.13, The Athletic 8.13)

Start of World Cup moves up by someday

The beginning of this yr’s FIFA World Cup has been moved up a day to Sunday, November 20, allowing for host nation Qatar to play in the primary match of the tournament. Qatar will now host Ecuador at 11 AM ET that morning. Under the unique iteration of the schedule, the match would have aired on FOX. With the move to an NFL Sunday, that not appears likely; the unique version of the World Cup schedule included just one Sunday match on FOX — the December 18 final at 10 AM ET. (Sky Sports 8.12)

Former SC anchor Smith joins Amazon NFL studio

Former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Michael Smith has been named a news analyst for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football studio coverage, it was announced this week. Smith has covered the NFL for the Boston Globe and ESPN, serving as a Patriots beat reporter for the previous and infrequently hosting “NFL Live” for the latter. Since he and co-host Jemele Hill were pressured out of ESPN in 2018, he has primarily appeared on the Peacock sports show “Brother From One other” alongside Michael Holley. (Amazon PR 8.9)

Plus: Field of Dreams, McGrath, Gronkowski

Major League Baseball won’t return to Dyersville, Iowa, for a third-straight edition of the “Field of Dreams” game next yr resulting from construction at the positioning. … ESPN recently announced a contract extension with college football reporter Molly McGrath. … ESPN on Saturday announced an alternate presentation of next week’s UFC 278 PPV featuring Rob Gronkowski. Coverage will air on ESPN and ESPN+ at 9 PM ET before shifting to ESPN+ exclusively the next hour. (Des Moines Register 8.10, ESPN PR)

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