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

The first set of NBA schedule leaks include the Grizzlies’ Christmas Day debut. Plus: the start of the World Cup has been brought forward by one day; ancient sports center anchor Michael Smith has a new gig; and more.

First NBA schedule leaks include Grizzlies’ first Christmas game

The Memphis Grizzlies are tentatively scheduled to play a Christmas Day game for the first time in franchise history, according to longtime NBA writer Marc Stein. Memphis would face Golden State over the holidays in a rematch of their second-round playoff series last season. Assuming the game airs on ABC — a safe bet given the opponent — it would be the first time in franchise history the Grizzlies have played a regular-season national game on television. The team’s only other aired regular season game, against Phoenix on ABC in March 2005, aired regionally in less than half of the markets.

Grizzlies-Warriors is one of the few nationally televised game shows that has leaked in recent days. Stein also reported that the Lakers will face the Mavericks in Dallas over Christmas, the second time in three years that james lebron and Luka Doncic were placed to compete over the holidays.

In addition, Athleticism reported that the Warriors will open their title defense against the Lakers on opening night.

Per Stein, the NBA schedule should be released next week. (Stein/Twitter 8.13Athleticism 8.13)

The start of the World Cup moves forward a day

The start of this year’s FIFA World Cup has been brought forward one day to Sunday, November 20, allowing host country Qatar to play the first match of the tournament. Qatar will now host Ecuador at 11am ET that morning. According to the original iteration of the program, the match would have aired on FOX. With the move to an NFL Sunday, that no longer seems likely; the original version of the World Cup schedule featured just one Sunday game on FOX – the Dec. 18 final at 10 a.m. ET. (Air sports 8.12)

Former SC Anchor Smith Joins Amazon NFL Studio

Former ESPN sports center anchor Michael Smith was appointed news analyst for Amazon Thursday night football studio coverage, it was announced this week. Smith covered the NFL for the boston globe and ESPN, serving as the Patriots Beat reporter for the former and occasionally hosting “NFL Live” for the latter. Since he and the co-host Jemele Hill were kicked out of ESPN in 2018, he primarily appeared on the Peacock sports show “Brother From Another” alongside Michael Holley. (Amazon PR 8.9)

More: Field of Dreams, McGrath, Gronkowski

Major League Baseball will not return to Dyersville, Iowa, for a third consecutive “Field of Dreams” game next year due to construction at the site. …ESPN recently announced a contract extension with a college football reporter Molly McGrath. … ESPN announced an alternate presentation of next week’s UFC 278 PPV on Saturday with Rob Gronkowski. Coverage will air on ESPN and ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET before moving to ESPN+ exclusively the following hour. (Des Moines Registry 8.10ESPN PR)

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