This Week in Sport: 7th – 13th June 2021

What a week of sport we have ahead of us! On Monday, the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks continue their Eastern Conference Semifinal series in the NBA playoffs. Tuesday is more play-off action, this time in the NHL, as the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights play a pivotal Game 5 of their Second Round series. We’re headed down under for our midweek fixture, as the rugby league State of Origin series begins between the Queensland Maroons and New South Wales Blues. After drawing their first Test, Thursday sees the start of the second Test between England and New Zealand. Friday sees a major sporting event make its post-pandemic return, as Euro 2020 gets underway with an opening match between Turkey and Italy.

Celebrate the weekend with some MMA on Saturday, as Arizona plays host to UFC 263. Sunday sees the end of the French Open, with the Final of the men’s singles draw.

Kevin Durant shooting for the Brooklyn NetsMonday 7th June 11:30PM GMT – Basketball: Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks

In the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the NBA playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets host the Milwaukee Bucks for Game 2 of their series at the Barclays Center in New York City on Monday 7th June 2021 at 11:30PM GMT.

Thanks to standout performances from Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Joe Harris, the Brooklyn Nets earned a 115-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their series. The Nets enjoyed a fairly easy first round series against the Boston Celtics, but will definitely be challenged much more by the Bucks. However, their first game win proves that they can handle the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

The Bucks, led by Giannis, will look to bounce back and even the series. The Bucks finished just two games back of the Nets in the regular season before sweeping the Heat in the first round. Being a game behind isn’t anything new for the Bucks. They lost Game 1 of their 2020 First Round series before coming back to win that series 4-1. However, the Brooklyn Nets, with their newly-formed 'super team', are going to be a very different opponent.

It has been 18 years since these teams met in the playoffs. The last Nets-Bucks playoff meeting was in 2003, which saw the Nets make a run all the way to the NBA Finals. Can the Bucks even this series tonight?

Mark Stone fist bumps Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden KnightsTuesday 8th June 1:00AM GMT (Wednesday 9th) – Ice Hockey: Colorado Avalanche v Vegas Golden Knights

In the NHL playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche host the Vegas Golden Knights at Ball Arena in Denver for a pivotal Game 5 of their second round series on Wednesday 9th June 2021 at 1:00AM GMT.

Having opened this series with a 2-0 lead, the Colorado Avalanche now found themselves all square at 2-2 with the Golden Knights. There has been a complete reversal of fortunes in the series, going a 7-1 win for Colorado in Game 1 to a 5-1 win for Vegas in Game 4. The Avalanche have gone completely cold, with the top lines that helped them dominate the first round and opening games of this series now going completely cold. Nathan McKinnon, who had eight playoffs goals after game 1 of this series, hasn’t scored in the last three games. The Avs need to find form, and fast.

It’s been well over a decade since the Avalanche progressed past this point in the playoffs, last reaching the final four in 2008. Their last two trips to the playoffs have ended here in the second round. As for the Golden Knights, they are only in their fourth season of existence but have reached the final four of the playoffs twice, including last year. With Jonathan Marchessault surging back to form and the likes of Max Pacioretty unstoppable, could Vegas ride this momentum all the way to the Stanley Cup Semifinals?

This is a Game 5 you won’t want to miss.

Nathan Cleary of the New South Wales Rugby League teamWednesday 9th June 10:10AM GMT – Rugby League: State of Origin Game 1

The State of Origin series begins between the Queensland Maroons and New South Wales Blues. Game 1 takes place at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville on Wednesday 9th June 2021 at 10:10AM GMT.

Last year, Queensland pulled off what many considered an upset as they took down New South Wales 2-1. This year, they will look to make their first successful defence of the title since 2017. Daly Cherry-Evans returns as Queensland captain and will lead a team that has returned many of the core pieces from their upset run last year. The keys for the Marrons will be their unbreakable defensive line, and blistering pace on the edges.

New South Wales have a new captain in veteran James Tedesco. The Blues also return a number of key pieces from last year, as they look to take the title back. The key for NSW will be in breaking down the stalwart Queensland defence that gave them so much trouble in 2020. That will be a little easier to do with the likes of Tariq Sims lining up in the sky blue.

Who will take the vital edge in this must-watch rugby league series?

Rory Burns for the England Cricket teamThursday 10th June 10:00AM GMT – Cricket: England v New Zealand (Day 1, 2nd Test)

England and New Zealand play the second Test of their series at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Play begins on Thursday 10th June 2021 at 10:00AM GMT.

The first Test ended in a draw between the two sides, with England being the happier of the two teams. New Zealand established a strong lead in the first inning before making a very sporting declaration in the second innings. However, due to the lost day due to rain and England’s slightly negative resilience in the second, New Zealand were denied a win.

New Zealand will look to Devon Conway to repeat his first Test heroics. Despite being a Test debutant, Conway scored a double century in the first inning. For England, they will look for the batting line-up to step up as aside from Rory Burns, who scored 132 runs in the first inning, the English batsmen need to show some improvement. England will be without Ollie Robinson, who was removed from the squad by the ECB. This will be a blow to the English side, as Robinson earned 7 wickets in his Test debut.

Who will come out on top in this deciding battle?

Lorenzo Insigne playing for the Italian National Football teamFriday 11th June 7:00PM GMT – Football: Turkey v Italy

UEFA Euro 2020 kicks off at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, as Turkey take on Italy on Friday 11th June 2021 at 7:00PM GMT.

Turkey make their first appearance at a major international tournament since the 2016 Euros, where they finished 3rd in their group. However, their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign was very successful. They won 7 of their 10 matches, finishing second in their group behind 2018 world champions France. Turkey has the second youngest squad at the tournament, with an average age of 24.6. While much of the team plays club football in Turkey, the squad includes 11 players in Europe’s Big Five leagues, including three members of Lille’s Ligue 1-winning side. Their best finish at a European Championship was in 2008, when they finished 3rd.

Having missed the 2018 World Cup entirely, a rebuilt Italian National Team will be looking to prove themselves at Euro 2020. Robert Mancini is fielding a squad with an average age of 27, but with 9 of the 26 members aged 25 or younger. Led by veteran captain Giorgio Chiellini, Italy are riding a 27-game undefeated streak that dates back to October 2018. This run includes going 10-for-10 in qualifying for this competition, making them only the seventh national side to have a perfect qualifying campaign. Italy are one-time winners of the tournament, being crowned champions in 1968. Their best result since is finishing runners-up in 2000 and 2012.

The tournament is modified for 2021, with 11 nations serving as hosts. Portugal will look to defend their title from 2016.

Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya facing Marvin 'The Italian Dream' Vettori in the UFC 263Saturday 12th June 2:00AM GMT (Sunday 13th) – Mixed Martial Arts: UFC 263

UFC 263 takes place at the Gila River Arena in Glendale on Sunday 13th June 2021 at 2:00AM GMT.

The headliner of UFC 263 is the rematch between Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya and Marvin ‘The Italian Dream’ Vettori, with Adesanya’s twice-defended middleweight belt on the line. The pair last met in 2018, in an undercard fight at UFC on Fox 29. Adesanya won via split decision.

Since that fight, Adesanya has won the middleweight belt and gone 7-1 in his subsequent fights. His only loss came in a title fight for the light heavyweight title earlier this year. Meanwhile, Vettori has gone 6-0 since his loss to Adesanya and looks ready to make his attempt to become the first Italian UFC champion.

The co-main event of the night sees another rematch, as Brandon Moreno challenges Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title for the second time. Their last bout ended in a draw, with Figueiredo retaining the belt.

Rafa Nadal playing in the French OpenSunday 13th June 1:00PM GMT – Tennis: French Open

The men’s singles Final of the French Open takes place at Stade Roland Garros on Sunday 13th June 2021 at 1:00PM GMT.

Sunday marks the Final of the Men’s Singles draw of the French Open.

In the top half of the draw, two names loom large in regards to potential finalists. Four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal will likely have to face Novak Djokovic in the Semifinals if he wants the chance to defend his title and match his own record of five consecutive titles at Roland Garros. World number one Novak Djokovic can never be counted out, but clay has never been his strongest surface. A title at Roland Garros this year would only be the second of his career.

In the bottom half of the draw, the biggest threat is 2nd seed Daniil Medvedev. While the young Russian star is yet to win a Grand Slam title, he has reached the Final at both the US and Australian Opens. Other strong competitors from this side of the draw include young Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is looking for his first Grand Slam Final, and German wonderkid Alexander Zverev, who previously made the US Open Final. However, a surprise contender could emerge.

Will Nadal defend his title? Or will the French Open gain its first new champion since 2016?

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions from around the world go to rugby union. The Premiership Rugby season wraps up. Bristol will look to secure the league title as they host London Irish. While dependent on the Bristol result, Exeter will look to take the league title as they face Sale Sharks. Bath will look to secure a place in the Champions Cup next season as they take on Northampton. In Major League Rugby, the highlight of the week’s fixtures will be Rugby United New York taking on Rugby ATL. The Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Series continues as the Brumbies take on the Highlanders.

There is also plenty of rugby league action to enjoy. In the Super League, Castleford face Hull FC. In the NRL, the Sea Eagles take on the Cowboys.

For basketball fans, the NBA playoffs continue. There is also a plethora of WNBA games. The Seattle Storm play the Connecticut Sun and Atlanta Dream while the Phoenix Mercury play the New York Liberty.

While the final week of the French Open is the main tennis action of the week, there are other events to enjoy. The ATP Tour travels to Stuttgart for the MercedesCup while the WTA Tour is in England for the Nottingham Open.

It’s also another busy week in the golf world. Both the European Tour and Ladies European Tour are in Stockholm for the Scandinavian Mixed. The LPGA Tour stays in California after the U.S. Women’s Open for the LPGA Mediheal Championship. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is in South Carolina for the Palmetto Championship, the last event before the men’s U.S. Open.

If baseball is your preferred sport, there is a lot of action in the MLB to enjoy. The San Diego Padres continue their season with series against the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets. Elsewhere, the Oakland A’s take on the Kansas City Royals.

The road to the Tour de France continues for cycling fans. This week, the UCI World Tour is in Switzerland for the ongoing Tour de Suisse.

England v New Zealand is not the only cricket to enjoy this week! The T20 Blast begins, while the Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy continues. On the international stage, South Africa begin their tour of the West Indies with a Test match.

In footballEuro 2020 plays throughout Europe across the latter half of the week. The Copa América starts on Sunday, with Brazil versus Venezuela as the opening game.

For motorsport fans, the Superbike World Championship is back in action this week, travelling to Italy.

The Aussie Rules season continues, with an AFL matchup between Port Adelaide and Geelong.

The NHL playoffs continue this week, providing some must-watch action for any ice hockey fan.

For athletics fans, there is more Diamond League action this week as the competition travels to Italy.

There is also plenty of netball to enjoy with some exciting Vitality Netball Superleague action this week.

The big boxing event of the week is Lewis Ritson fighting Jeremias Ponce. They are fighting for the right to challenge for the World Super-Lightweight belt.

Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

Fixture

Photos by Brooklyn Nets, Vegas Golden Knights, NSW Blues, England Cricket, Nazionale Italiana di Calcio, Marvin Vettori, Roland-Garros

Written and information correct on 6th June at 10pm GMT

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