10.21.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of somewhat guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we know, and what we think we know, and what we really have no clue about for the start of the NBA regular season that starts in L.A. with the Lakers vs. the Clippers at Staples Center (Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT, which comes after Toronto’s banner-raising ceremony, a 5 p.m. game vs. New Orleans on TNT):
== The 18th annual survey of team general managers via NBA.com has  determined the Clippers will win the league title this year – 46 percent, followed by Milwaukee at 36 percent. It seems a bit … crazy?
Kawhi Leonard will also be the “most impactful offseason acquisition,” according to this dart-board exercise.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were determined to be the “most improved team.”
Seems like a misguided high school year book survey. Read it here yourself: www.nba.com/gmsurvey/2019.
== “LeBron (James) could retire today and be considered, at worst, the second-best player in the history of basketball, with a career featuring an average of 27-7-7, 15 All-NBA team honors, nine Finals appearances, four league MVPs, three Finals MVPs, two titles in Miami, and one title and one broken curse in Cleveland. But (Michael) Jordan found a way to give more when there was nothing more to prove. Now it’s LeBron’s chance to do the same. … Will he fade away as the young stars he influenced begin to take control? Can he lead the Lakers back to glory? Will King James lose his crown or take back the throne?”
This is from a story in TheRinger.com comparing James to Jordan at this point in their careers – and yes, the “Space Jam” analogy also fits. If anything, it’s another fun read before the season.
== Odds from BetOnline.ag for the 2019-2020 NBA MVP:
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 3/1
Stephen Curry: 5/1
Anthony Davis: 7/1
James Harden: 8/1
Kawhi Leonard:  9/1
LeBron James: 12/1
Paul George: 33/1
= Carmelo Anthony is still a player without a team.

Also this week for the Lakers
= vs. Utah, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet and ESPN
= vs. Charlotte, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
Also this week for the Clippers
= At Golden State, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= At Phoenix, Saturday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket


NUMBER 2What we absolutely know about the MLS playoffs:
== El Trafico is at a whole new collision course. Check your insurance deductibles.
The Galaxy avoided tripping up its wildcard match in the Western Conference and earned a trip to the next round in … Los Angeles.
LAFC, which has yet to capture a win against their city rivals (two losses, three ties), are the No. 1 see in the West and host a Western Conference semifinal one-and-done matchup on Thursday (7:30 p.m., Banc of California Stadium, ESPN).
“I’m pretty sure they are afraid of us,” the Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini said of LAFC. “I think so because they never beat us. And it’s a good opportunity for us to show who owns L.A.”
Enough said.
Warning: Just also be aware it comes on ESPN after an SMU-Houston football game (4:30 p.m.) that could push the time window.

Also in the MLS playoffs:
Western Conference:
= Salt Lake at Seattle, Wednesday at 7 p.m., FS1
Eastern Conference:
= Toronto at NYCFC, Wednesday at 4 p.m., FS1
= Philadelphia at Atlanta, Thursday at 5 p.m., ESPN2


NUMBER 3What we know, and what we think we know, heading into NFL Week 8:
== The Rams give up a home contest – it’s part of the deal about moving to L.A. – and must help represent the NFL overseas with a contest at Wembley Stadium in London against winless Cincinnati (10 a.m., Channel 2). It goes head-to-head with the Chargers’ trip to  Chicago (10 a.m., Channel 11).
== There’s a guy who vows to sleep on the roof of his restaurant every night until the Bengals get their first win. He’s been up there a few weeks already.
These stories used to be cute and fuzzy. Now they smell of desperation and attention seeking. The team likely doesn’t care about this man’s self-inflicted predicament no more than they care about how their checks come to them via direct deposit or wired to their off-shore financial planner. So there you go.
Finishing up Week 7:
= New England at N.Y. Jets, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Going into Week 8:
= Washington at Minnesota, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window  (blacked out in L.A.): Seattle at Atlanta, Philadelphia at Buffalo, N.Y. Giants at Detroit, Tampa Bay at Tennessee
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window (blacked out in L.A.): Arizona at New Orleans, N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville, Oakland at Houston.
= In the Fox 1:05 p.m. window: Carolina at San Francisco
= In the CBS 1:25 p.m. window: Denver at Indianapolis, Cleveland at New England
= Green Bay at Kansas City, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Bye week: Dallas, Baltimore


NUMBER 4What we know, and what we think we know, heading into College Football Week 9:
== USC (4-3, 3-1 in the Pac-12 South) has yet to win a road game, but this opportunity in Colorado (Friday at 6 p.m., ESPN2) comes with several caveats. In 13 meetings, USC has never lost to Colorado (3-4, 1-3, losers of three in a row). The Trojans have outscored the Buffs 450-189. The temps in Boulder, Colo., for this one is expected to be in the high 50s during the sunny day and tip to 38 by nighttime.  USC official records list it at 12-11-1 in “cold weather” games — where the weather dips low enough to be mentioned in the media recap of the contest. Last “cold weather” contest for USC was a 31-27 loss at Utah in 2016 when it was 45 degrees at kickoff. Then there is the awkward short week, and a Friday game, for TV’s sake.
Then there’s UCLA (2-5, 2-2) playing host to No. 24 Arizona State (5-2, 2-2) at the Rose Bowl (Saturday at 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network). The Bruins are 1-1 against ranked teams this season.

Also this week in the Pac-12:
Arizona at Stanford, 12:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Cal at Utah, 7 p.m., FS1
Washington State at Oregon, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Bye: Oregon State, Colorado
Also this week nationally:

SMU at Houston, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Notre Dame at Michigan, 5 p.m., Channel 7
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Auburn at LSU, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Penn State at Michigan State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Texas at TCU, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11
Arkansas at Alabama, 4 p.m., ESPN
Boston College at Clemson, 4:30 p.m., ACC Network


NUMBER 5What we know, and what we think we know, heading into the World Series:
== At least the 115th Hardball Octoberfest won’t stumble into November. A Game 7 if needed is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30. But then, there could be rain that pushes it to Halloween or beyond.
== The Nationals will bring Washington D.C. its first World Series since 1933, but, really, who are we kidding? These are the Transferrable Montreal Expos, managed by a former Expo, giving Canada a rooting interest.
== After Fox put most of the ALCS on FS1, it will yield to moving the World Series to the Fox over-the-air network and conveniently has an off day on Thursday so Joe Buck can run off to do an NFL assignment. Sigh. You can also find this on ESPN Radio.
Here’s how it officially lays out:
Game 1: Tuesday at Houston, 5:08 p.m.
Game 2: Wednesday at Houston, 5:07 p.m.
Game 3: Friday at Washington, 5:07 p.m.
Game 4: Saturday at Washington, 5:07 p.m.
Game 5: Sunday at Washington, 5:07 p.m.
More info:


== High school football Week 9: Mater Dei (8-0) at St. John Bosco (8-0), Friday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
The visiting team is ranked No. 1 in the latest MaxPreps.com poll; the home team is ranked No. 2.
Not in in the Trinity League.
Not just in  Southern California.
Not just California.
But in the whole nation.
Mater Dei senior quarterback Bryce Young, who once committed to USC and flipped it to Alabama, accounted for five touchdowns in his team’s 45-0 win last week against Santa Margarita. St. John Bosco senior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, committed to Clemson, threw for three TDs in a 63-6 win over Orange Lutheran last week.
(Also: FSW reairs the Nov. 23, 2018 Division I Final between the two schools at 5 p.m.)

How this week shapes up for the Kings (3-5-0):
= At Winnipeg, Tuesday at 5 p.m., FSW
= At St. Louis, Thursday at 5 p.m., FSW
= At Minnesota, Saturday at 5 p.m., FSW
= At Chicago, Sunday at 4 p.m., FSW
How this week shapes up for the Ducks (6-3-0)
= At Nashville, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Dallas, Thursday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Colorado, Saturday at 6 p.m., Channel 13
= At Vegas, Sunday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket


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