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🏀Gonna find out who's naughty or nice - CAN

December 25, 2020
SOURCE: CARMEN MANDATO/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: CARMEN MANDATO/GETTY IMAGES

Naughty: James Harden is getting coal in his stocking. The Houston Rockets star violated COVID-19 protocols earlier this week by visiting what seems to be a strip club (though he claims otherwise) and was deemed “unavailable” for the Rockets’ home opener last night while the NBA investigated.

  • That game — after seven Rockets players were placed on the COVID-19 list — was postponed anyway, as the team didn’t have enough players to make up the league-required eight-man roster, and Harden was fined $50k for his rule breaking. But since there’s room for everyone on the nice list, there might be hope for him yet.
  • Seems like the Toronto Raptors are trying to make the naughty list, too. Not only did they lose last night’s “home” opener to the New Orleans Pelicans, but rumor has it they’re in “exploratory talks” to trade for Harden. Interesting.

Nice: The Brooklyn Nets weren’t too good this year, but they’re making a convincing last-minute push for the nice list. With Kevin Durant back on the court for the first time since June 2019, the Nets won the league’s season opener 125–99 over the Golden State Warriors. The Nets play again tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET against the Boston Celtics.

Extra nice: Santa knows it’s been a rough year, so he’s gifting us five CanCon-friendly Christmas Day games. Along with the Steve Nash–run Nets and Tristan Thompson’s Celtics matchup, Andrew Wiggins’ Warriors and Jamal Murray’s Denver Nuggets are also set to play. Check out the full schedule here.

🏒Sure, it's Christmas once more

December 25, 2020
SOURCE: TSN HOCKEY/TWITTER
SOURCE: TSN HOCKEY/TWITTER

The setup: For the uninitiated, hi, welcome! The IIHF World Junior Championships, better known as the World Juniors, is an annual 12-day international under-20 hockey tournament, where we place the hopes and dreams of all hockey-loving Canadians on the shoulders of 25 teenagers.

The format: The field of 10 teams is split into two groups (A and B), and as the host nation and No. 1 seed, Team Canada is heading Group A. Each team will play four games in the round robin stage, and the top eight teams will move on to the sudden-death playoffs. Games start tomorrow and the champion will be crowned January 5th.

The teams: Not to brag or anything, but Team Canada is the reigning champ and the heavy favorite to win again — even with captain Kirby Dach injuring his wrist in last night’s pre-tournament game. Looking to unseat us are No. 2 Russia and No. 3 Sweden over in Group B, and, of course, Team USA is always looking to spoil our fun.

  • Russia and the U.S. will duke it out tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. ET, but Team Canada won’t drop the puck until 6 p.m. ET on Saturday against No. 9 Germany. Check out the schedule here.
     
  • Want more World Juniors info? Listen to this week’s episode of The GIST of It.

The women’s tournament: Oh, there isn’t one. Normally there is a severely under-recognized under-18 tournament that runs around this time, but it was cancelled this year. Don’t even get us started...

🏈NFL - All I want for Christmas is you

December 25, 2020
SOURCE: USA TODAY SPORTS
SOURCE: USA TODAY SPORTS

Coma cure: Tomorrow’s 4:30 p.m. ET matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings may not be exciting enough to rouse you from a turkey coma, but the Saints could clinch the NFC South division title and the Vikings are still clinging to playoff hopes, so at least both sides will be playing for something.

Hangover fix: The fun stuff starts this weekend. The Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could both lock up playoff spots on Saturday, and the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and LA Rams could clinch on Sunday, but it’s not all smooth sailing to the postseason. Check out all the possible playoff clinching scenarios here and the full schedule here.

🏀🏒

NHL, NHLPA Agree on 56-Game 2021 Season

December 21, 2020
SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

⛳️Golf: What’s a girl gotta do to get paid? Oh, just win the CME Group Tour Championship, the LPGA’s final tournament of the year. World No. 1 Jin Young Ko claimed victory yesterday, and with it, a $1.1 million paycheck.

  • Meanwhile, Canadian Brooke Henderson finished tied for seventh with a 10 under par. Not a bad Sunday at the office.

🏀Basketball: If you missed WNBA superstar Liz Cambage as much as we did last season, we’re here to assure you that she’s doing just fine in the land down under. After Cambage opted out of the 2020 WNBA season with medical exemption, she stayed in her native Australia and later played in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).

🏒Hockey: Okay, we can finally confirm this. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed to a 56-game season, set to begin on January 13th, and announced the temporary realignment that includes a true North division of all seven Canadian teams (amazing). Let the games begin!

🏈NFL Playoff Field Narrowing

December 21, 2020
SOURCE: NFL ON CBS/TWITTER
SOURCE: NFL ON CBS/TWITTER

The playoff picture: With Saturday’s lopsided win over the Denver Broncos, the Buffalo Bills won their first division title since 1995 (aka when Toy Story was released...yes, the first one), becoming the third AFC team to clinch a playoff spot. Over in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks clinched their playoff spot with a 20–15 win over the Washington Football Team (WFT) yesterday.

  • That leaves four playoff spots up for grabs in each conference. The AFC has six teams still in the hunt (leaving the New England Patriots out of the race for the first time since 2008), whereas the NFC has a whopping 10 teams vying for a spot. Check out the full playoff picture here.

The highlights: In their pursuit of happiness postseason glory, players across the league gave us their best. Check out our favorite highlights from Week 15:

  • Déjà vu: Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers came back from 24–7 to beat the Atlanta Falcons 31–27. But wait, haven’t we already seen Brady do that?
  • X marks the spot: Three years after scoring his last touchdown (TD), Baltimore Ravens wide receiver (WR) Dez Bryant ditched the wine and finally threw up his X after catching an 11-yard pass for a TD. The Ravens went on to win 40–14 over the miserable Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Indefensible: Most NFL WRs need two hands to catch a TD. Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins basically needs only one. His TD helped the Cards get their second consecutive win after a three-game losing streak, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 33–26.