05.20.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance:

black 1What’s your hurry, summer?
This weekend’s triple threat of motorsport madness – the Indianapolis 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Monaco Grand Prix – starts the new season with a Memorial Day weekend of fumes and likely some fuming at those who cut drivers off.
The 103rd Indy 500 (Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 4; prerace at 6 a.m., NBCSN) already has made some weekend news, as the legendary McLaren team missed qualifying then considered trying to buy driver Fernando Alonso, best known as a Formula One champ, a seat in the race. He declined. Simon Pagenaud put his Chevy on the pole position with Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot on the front row. Three-time winner Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) could join Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only winners of four events. Castroneves starts from the fourth row. Defending champion Will Power, who famously spilled the champion’s milk all over the Indy Race Queen by accident, is in the second row. Pippa Mann, the only woman in the field, is on the 10th row. She failed to qualify last year. NBC also has this for the first time after ABC established this as a Wide World of Sports staple since the mid 1960s.
More info: www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com
NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, N.C. (Sunday, 3 p.m., Channel 11) can make some news when an Indy 500 driver tries to helicopter over after his morning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and get to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time to race again– it has its own Wikipedia entry as “Double Duty.” Tony Stewart once was sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte in 2001, completing all 600 laps and 1,100 miles in both events. It was last attempted by Kurt Busch in 2014. No takers this year. Kyle Bush is the defending champ, leading 377 of the 400 laps for his first career win at Charlotte, and the first driver to win a race at every track in the NASCAR Cup series he competed in as well as every track that’s on the current schedule.
More info: www.charlottemotorspeedway.com
The fast and furious day officially begins with the F1’s 77th Grand Prix de Monaco (Sunday, 6 a.m., ESPN; replayed at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) at the street circuit that runs through the city. Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing went from the pole to the checkered flag last year ahead of Sebastian Vettle and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso started seventh in the McLaren-Renault but had to fall out after 52 laps with a gearbox issue.
More info: www.formula1.com

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black 2Cut through all the latest Laker drama. By the time the weekend ends, the NBA will have its two title contenders. That’s what matters.
The Warriors’ 3-0 lead over the Blazers seems to give them a cushion if they experience one or two of their lack-of-focus issues in defending their title. The Raptors needed two OTs on their home court and Giannis Antetokounmpo fouling out to at least get closer to the Bucks, trying to come back from a 2-0 deficit and tie up the series at home.
How it lays out:
Western Conference finals:
* Game 4: Golden State at Portland, Monday at 6 p.m., ESPN
* Game 5: at Golden State, Wednesday at 6 p.m., ESPN
* Game 6: at Portland, Friday at 6 p.m., ESPN
* Game 7: at Golden State, Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN
Eastern Conference finals:
* Game 4: Milwaukee at Toronto, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., TNT
*  Game 5: at Milwaukee, Thursday at 5:30 p.m., TNT
* Game 6: at Toronto, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., TNT

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black 3If the Angels weren’t giving out a Wookiee Rally Monkey to the first 30,000 who come in for Friday Star Wars Night celebration prior to the game against – who does it really matter – this week in SoCal baseball might otherwise go unnoticed.

This week for the Angels, 22-24, second in the AL West by one percentage point, and up from No. 20 to No. 14 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings:
= Vs. Minnesota, at Angel Stadium, Monday (Jake Odorizzi vs. Taylor Cole) and Tuesday (Michael Pineda vs. Trevor Cahill) at 7:07 p.m., FSW; Wednesday (Martin Perez vs. Matt Harvey) at 6:07 p.m., FSW
= Vs. Texas, at Angel Stadium, Friday (Ariel Jurado vs. Griffin Canning) at 7:07 p.m., FSW; Saturday (Drew Smyly vs. Tyler Skaggs) at 7:07 p.m., FSW; Sunday (Mike Minor vs. TBA) at 1:07 p.m., FSW

This week for the Dodgers, 31-17, 5 ½ games up in the NL West, who have been supplanted by Houston in the latest ESPN MLB Power Rankings:
= At Tampa Bay, Tuesday (Clayton Kershaw vs. TBA) and Wednesday (Rich Hill vs. TBA), 4:10 p.m., SportsNet LA
= At Pittsburgh, Friday (Walker Buehler vs. TBA) at 4:05 p.m., SNLA; Saturday (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Joe Musgrove) at 4:15 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday (Kenta Maeda vs. Chris Archer) at 10:35 a.m., SNLA

Also in college baseball, as UCLA hangs on to its No. 1 spot in the NCAA rankings:
* UCLA (45-8, 22-5 in the Pac-12): The last three games of the regular season are at Oregon: Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. The NCAA regionals start May 31.
* USC (23-27-1, 11-14-1 in the Pac-12): The final week of the regular season has a non-conference game at UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6 p.m., then three at Oregon State, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at noon, on the Pac 12 Networks
* UC Irvine (34-16, 15-6 in Big West): The last week of the regular season has a non-conference game vs. USC at Anteater Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; and three at UC Riverside, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton (25-25, 11-10 in Big West): The last week of the regular season is three at Cal State Northridge, Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge (22-30, 8-13 in Big West): The last week of the regular season is three vs. Cal State Fullerton, Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., CSUN Sports Network
* Long Beach State (11-41, 5-16 in Big West): The last week of the regulars season is three vs. Hawaii at Blair Field, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., ESPN3
* Loyola Marymount (29-23, 15-12 in the WCC): The Lions are fed to the West Coast Conference baseball tournament as the No. 4 seed, opening against No. 1 seed BYU in a single-elimnation event (semifinals are Friday with the final on Saturday) in Stockton. Pepperdine (24-25, 14-13 in the WCC) is done.

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black 4The launch of the 2019 WNBA season finds the Sparks in Las Vegas (at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Sunday at 5 p.m., streaming on Twitter) arrives with the intriguing combo of Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike as a potentially dominating low-post sister act, as they were back in Stanford. The two had a combined 30 points in 20 minutes each during an exhibition win over Seattle last week. New coach Derek Fisher won’t have Candace Parker for the opening week as she recovers from a hamstring injury.

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black 5In the MLS: The LAFC (9-1-4), unbeaten in its last six games after a 1-1 draw at Dallas, has a home contest against Montreal (Banc of California Stadium, Friday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV) while the Galaxy (7-5-1), coming off a miserable loss to then-winless Colorado and leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic serving a two-game suspension, goes to Orlando (Friday, 4 p.m., Univision, UniMas).

More

  • The Stanley Cup Finals start May 27 in Boston. The visiting club? To be determined this week with the Blues pushing the Sharks to the limit, taking a 3-2 series lead back to San Jose.
    The week ahead in the Western Conference:
    * Game 6: San Jose at St. Louis, Tuesday at 5 p.m., NBCSN
    * Game 7: at San Jose, Thursday at 6 p.m., NBCSN
  • UCLA’s softball team (49-6), No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll and No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball and Softball America rankings, advances to the NCAA Super Regionals/Sweet 16 for the sixth straight season against either Michigan or James Madison, with the contest at UCLA to be determined. The Pac-12 is also represented by Arizona and Washington, with Oklahoma as the top seed. More info: www.ncaa.com
  • The French Open begins with first-round matches (Tennis Channel, 2 a.m. to noon, live), and Rafael Nadal coming off a win over Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open tuneup. More info: www.rolandgarros.com
  • U.S. Women’s National team has its final tuneup before the Women’s World Cup in France (vs. Mexico at Red Bull Arena in N.J., Sunday at 8:30 a.m., ESPN). More info: www.ussoccer.com

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