This Week in Sport: 21st – 27th June 2021

Get ready for another fantastic week of sport! On Monday, we have the next thrilling match in the Stanley Cup semifinal series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders. More playoff action follows on Tuesday with Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers. Sri Lanka's tour of England begins on Wednesday with the first of three T20 fixtures. Thursday sees the start of more Major action on the LPGA Tour as the Women's PGA Championship gets underway. And we head to the ballpark for a bay area MLB clash between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.

To start the weekend, we have an unmissable Premiership Rugby Final between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins. And we close out the week with the next race on the F1 calendar, the Styrian Grand Prix. 

New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup SemifinalsMonday 21st June 12:00AM GMT (Tuesday 22nd) – Ice Hockey: Tampa Lightning v New York Islanders

In the NHL Stanley Cup Semifinals, the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders face off for Game 5 of their series at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Tuesday 22nd June 2021 at 12:00AM GMT.

It’s 2-2 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders entering Game 5. Game 4 saw the Islanders even the series after the Lightning won Games 2 and 3. This is the second consecutive season that the Islanders have reached this stage of the NHL playoffs. And it’s the second consecutive season that they have run into the Lightning. Last season, they lost in six. However, this year they have improved from a six seed to a four seed and have looked like a threat all season. They are led by Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri, who have seven goals each, and a goalie tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin.

The Lightning are the defending champions and will be eager to get the opportunity to defend that title in the Stanley Cup Final. Led by Brayden Point’s 12 goals, the Lightning have continued to prove throughout these playoffs why they are the defending champions and why many see them as favourites to defend that title.

Patrick Beverley for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Western Conference FinalsTuesday 22nd June 1:00AM GMT (Wednesday 23rd June) – Basketball: Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers

In the NBA Western Conference Finals, the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers meet for Game 2 at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix on Wednesday 23rd June 2021 at 1:00AM GMT.

In Sunday’s Game 1, the Phoenix Suns came out on top in a high-scoring affair, outlasting the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114. The impressive Devin Booker recorded a triple-double with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.

The last time the Suns made the playoffs was 2010, which also happened to be their last appearance in the Western Conference Finals. In that playoff run, they were finally defeated by the eventual-champion Lakers. This year, they have seen off the Lakers in six before sweeping the Nuggets. Now only the Clippers stand between them and their Finals appearance since 1993.

For the Clippers, this is the best playoff run in franchise history. Whatever happens, they can hold their head high as they finally reach the Conference Finals. In Sunday’s Game 1 loss, Paul George and Reggie Jackson were the best Clippers on the court, making up for Kawhi Leonard’s absence. But with Leonard out for an unknown amount of time, the team is going to have to work out how to stay competitive without him.

Can the Clippers even the series? Or will the Suns go 2-0 up?

Jos Buttler for the England Cricket TeamWednesday 23rd June 5:30PM GMT – Cricket: England v Sri Lanka (1st T20)

Sri Lanka begin their tour of England with a T20 match at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Wednesday 23rd June 2021 at 5:30PM GMT.

Sri Lanka begins their tour of England in the T20 format. These two sides last met in T20 play in October 2018, where England took a 30-run victory in the one match played.

England’s last T20 action came against India in March. It was a tightly-contested five-match series that saw India pull out a tight 3-2 win. However, England have come out victorious in 7 of their last 10 T20 series. The England squad features many changes and returning faces, such as Chris Woakes, who will make his first T20 International appearance since 2015. England will also be excited to be able to make use of many players who were unable to play in England’s recent Tests against New Zealand due to their quarantine after the IPL.

Sri Lanka have lost their last four T20 series, last winning in the format against Pakistan last year. Additionally, they have not beaten England since 2014. Sri Lanka will be desperate to make things difficult for England.

Atlanta Athletic Club for the KPMG Women's PGA ChampionshipThursday 24th June 2:00PM GMT – Golf: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

The third Major of the Women’s golf season season gets underway as the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship begins at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek on Thursday 24th June 2021 at 2:00PM GMT.

Women’s golf moves onto the third of its five Majors, travelling to Georgia for the Women’s PGA Championship. The defending champion is South Korean golfer Kim Sei-Young, who won the 2020 title by 5 strokes last December. Kim has had a strong season so far, including a Tied for 3rd finish at the first Major of the season, the ANA Inspiration. However, she will have strong competition in Atlanta if she wants to mount the first successful title defence since 2015.

Surprise winner of the US Women’s Open, Filipino teenager Yuka Saso is eager to mark her presence on the LPGA with another Major win. Meanwhile, Tour veteran Inbee Park hopes to become just the second four-time winner of the tournament and the first since Mickey Wright won her fourth in 1963. Also in the contention are the ambitious Korda sisters, each of whom is looking for their first Major title.

With four days of play on the beautiful Highlands Course, you won’t want to miss a single swing.

Brandon Belt for the San Francisco GiantsFriday 25th June 1:45AM GMT (Saturday 26th) – Baseball: San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics

In the MLB, the San Francisco Giants host the Oakland Athletics for a three-game series at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Game 1 of the series begins on Saturday 26th June 2021 at 1:45AM GMT.

The San Francisco Giants enter the week leading the NL West with a record of 46-26, with 7 wins in their last 10 games. Veteran catcher Buster Posey leads the team with a .329 batting average. The name of the game for the Giants has been power. They lead the NL in home runs and slugging percentage. If they can maintain this pace and prowess through the summer, the MLB may be finally witnessing the answer to the dominant Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Oakland Athletics come into the week looking to bounce back from a series sweep at the hands of the Yankees. However, those three losses are the A’s only losses in their last 10 games as they sit second in the AL West at a record of 44-29. The team’s statistical leader is first baseman Matt Olson, with a .305 batting average and 20 home runs. The A’s are a top-10 team statistically in the AL, but the question remains as to whether they are going to be able to keep the pace with the bigger names in the AL.

Who will win this battle of the bay as these two high-flying Californian teams face-off?

Alex Dombrandt and Harlequin teammates celebratingSaturday 26th June 4:30PM GMT – Rugby Union: Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins

Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins face off in the Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham in London on Saturday 26th June 2021 at 4:30PM GMT.

After two of the greatest semifinals in Premiership Rugby history, Exeter and Harlequins will face off for the title.

Harlequins epic semi-final saw them go to extra time against Bristol Bears, the first time a semi-final has gone to extra time. This is additionally amazing, given that Harlequins were down 28-5 at halftime. But three second-half tries and stalwart defence got them back into the match and eventually, secured the win. This is Harlequins’ first Final since their 2012 title and marks a momentous rise through the ranks for the London side.

However, standing in their way are perennial Finals contenders Exeter. The Chiefs have appeared in every Premiership Final since 2016, winning twice. They enjoyed a memorable semi-final of their own, outlasting Sale Sharks to win 40-30. They will be now have the chance to defend their title from 2020 and cement themselves as the new powerhouse of English rugby.

Red Bull at the Formula 1 Styrian Grand PrixSunday 27th June 1:00PM GMT – Motorsport: F1 Styrian Grand Prix

The F1 season continues with the first of two races in Austria, beginning with the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on Sunday 27th June 2021 at 1:00PM GMT.

This exciting F1 season continues, travelling to Austria for the Styrian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen was able to extend his lead at the top of the Driver’s Championship after taking a race win in France last weekend. He now leads Lewis Hamilton by 12 points. Three races without a win is the longest such streak for Hamilton since 2019, when he went three races without a win between the Belgian and Singapore Grand Prixes.

The Styrian event is an incredibly fast Grand Prix, with fast corners and significant straights. Lewis Hamilton is the defending race champion and will look to defend that title as he looks to get back on top. Verstappen finished 3rd last year. Can he continue his strong run of form and turn that into his 4th race win of the year?

Other highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions from around the world go to rugby. In rugby union, the U20 Six Nations continues in Wales. The British & Irish Lions begin their long-awaited tour with a match against Japan. In rugby league, England are also in action, playing a Test against a Combined Nations team. In the southern hemisphere, Queensland and New South Wales play the second match in the State of Origin series.

The road to Wimbledon continues in the tennis world. On the ATP Tour, play moves to Eastbourne for the Eastbourne International and Santa Ponsa for the Mallorca Championships. Meanwhile, the WTA Tour joins the ATP in Eastbourne while also travelling to Germany for the Bad Homburg Open.

In basketball, the NBA Conference Finals begin as the four remaining teams battle for a place in the NBA Finals. The WNBA sees another busy week of play.

For football fans, there is plenty to enjoy. The group stage of Euro 2021 concludes and the knockout stages gets underway. Elsewhere internationally, the group stage of the Copa América continues throughout the weekend. Domestically in the US, the MLS and NWSL both continue their seasons.

It’s a busy week in the world of golf. While it’s Major week for the LPGA Tour, the PGA Tour is in Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. After the excitement of the US Open, the European Tour travels to Germany for the BMW International Open. The Ladies European Tour is in the Czech Republic for the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open.

There is also plenty of cricket to enjoy. Internationally, the World Test Championship Final between New Zealand and India continues - where the sixth day on Wednesday will be needed. South Africa remain in the West Indies, with the sides moving to the T20 format. At the English county level, the T20 Blast group stage continues.

In the world of motorsport, the W Series returns for 2021. The MotoGP seasons travels to the Netherlands for the Dutch TT.

It’s an exciting week for boxing fans. Vasyl Lomachenko fights Masayoshi Nakatani in Vegas. Meanwhile, Mario Barrios fights Gervonta Davis for the WBA World Super Light title.

For cycling fans, the Tour de France has finally arrived. Alongside it is the La Course by Le Tour de France on the UCI Women’s WorldTour.

In Aussie Rules, the AFL season marches on. Of particular note, third-place Geelong and fourth-place Western Bulldog are set to face off.

For netball enthusiasts, the Finals Series of the Vitality Super Netball season is finally here.

Those looking forward to next month’s Olympic athletics events can get a head start on the excitement as the British Athletics Championships takes place this week.

In ice hockey, the NHL playoffs continue throughout the week.

In baseball, the MLB season continues towards its mid-season break. This week, there is a major showdown between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

Fixture

Photos by New York Islanders, LA Clippers, England Cricket, KPMG Women's PGA Championship, SF Giants, Harlequins, Red Bull Ring

Written and information correct on 20th June at 10pm GMT

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