Bubbles built by the NBA, WNBA and MLS (after a shaky start) have been so successful thus far at preventing positive tests for the corona virus, it took a major player leaving a bubble for personal reasons to draw headlines.
The New Orleans Pelicans announced Thursday that Zion Williamson had to leave Orlando to deal with “an urgent family medical matter.” Protocol for a return to the bubble will depend on how long he’s away.
New Orleans begins its restart July 30 vs. the Utah Jazz. Ironically, the Pellies are on the Western Conference playoff bubble trying to earn the eighth and final playoff spot. Entering the restart . . .
8. Memphis 32-33
9. Portland 29-37
10. New Orleans 28-36
11. Sacramento 28-36
12. San Antonio 27-36
13. Phoenix 26-39
After eight games closing out the “regular season” in Orlando, teams #8 and #9 will meet in a play-in battle to face the top seed UNLESS the ninth seed is more than four games behind in the standings. In that play-in challenge, the eighth seed must win only one game, the ninth would have to sweep two straight (thanks to Jonathan Von Tobel of “The Edge” for his assistance).
That means the Pelicans only have to finish ninth to have a shot at the main brackets. In order, New Orleans is scheduled to play Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis, Sacramento, Washington, San Antonio, Sacramento, and Orlando. Pretty soft down the stretch. Only the first two teams listed currently have winning records.
NEVADA COVID OUTBREAK CONTINUES WITH 1,447 CONFIRMED NEW CASES
Two days ago, Nevada set a one-day record with 1,104 new cases. Thursday, an alarming jump to almost 1.5K has magnified concerns. Fully 1,315 of the 1,447 cases were in Clark County (91%).
This was the third day in the past week that Nevada had reached at least a thousand new cases. In order from last Friday: 1,004, 930, 845, 832, 1,104, 849, 1,447. That’s more than 7,000 new infections in just one week.
We won’t bury you with in-depth counts every day here in this July series. We’ll pick our spots, using data to add context to public statements from key sports officials, or to highlight major stories. It would be great if those major stories would be about counts going DOWN. We all want good news! Unfortunately, that’s not happening yet. We did want to point out the following Thursday counts in the Florida sports bubbles.
Orange County (Orlando) reported its one-day all-time high with 1,390 confirmed new cases. That’s a big jump from 440 and 532 the last two days. The prior high was 1,371 this past Sunday. So far, it’s been mostly good news from the NBA and MLS player bubbles in terms of new infections.
Osceola County (Kissimmee, where MLS games are played) reported a stunning 519 new cases. That’s way up from 133 and 176 the last two days, and well above recent norms.
Manatee County (Bradenton-WNBA) reported 350 new cases, way up from 153 and 145 the last two days. It’s not a one-day record because 480 were reported this past Sunday. It’s the second-highest total ever.
If professional sports leagues can make bubbles work in those hot spots, they can work anywhere. College sports will be much more difficult because it’s impossible to quarantine THAT many athletes spread out so far across the country. Individual states or regions might be able to pull it off.
HUGE UPSET THURSDAY IN MLS
VSiN guests and hosts have talked a lot in recent days about the “anything can happen” environment in neutral-site events. We saw a great example of that early Thursday in the “MLS is Back” tournament when Cincinnati (plus 440) shocked Atlanta 1-0. Cincinnati had lost its prior game 4-0 to Columbus.
Cincinnati may still need to earn another point to earn a spot in the knockout round. Poor goal differential will hurt in any tie-breaker scenarios.
Three more games on tap for Friday. All starting times Eastern.
New England vs. DC United (8 p.m., ESPN)
Three-way: New England plus 105, DC United plus 219, draw plus 275
Goal Line: New England -0.25 goals (-123), DC United plus 0.25 goals (plus 103)
: 2.75 goals (Over -127, Under plus 103)
(This meeting is in Group C. Standings entering Friday: Toronto 1-0-1, New England 1-0-0, DC 0-0-1, Montreal 0-2-0.)
Kansas City vs Colorado (8 p.m., ESPN)
: Kansas City -108, Colorado plus 267, draw plus 286
: Kansas City -0.5 goals (-108), Colorado plus 0.5 goals (-116)
: 2.75 goals (Over -119, Under -102)
Minnesota vs. Salt Lake (10:30 p.m., ESPN)
: Minnesota plus 146, Salt Lake plus 169, draw plus 269
: Minnesota pick-em (-122), Salt Lake (-102)
: 2.75 goals (Over -125, Under plus 102)
The last two games are in Group D. Standings entering Friday: Salt Lake and Minnesota both 1-0-0, Kansas City and Colorado both 0-1-0.
Other Stories of Interest
*Great in-depth summary of college football’s current state (al.com)
*NCAA issues fall sport safety guidelines (NCAA.org)
*Covid breakdowns by NFL cities (Boston Globe)
*NFL says 72 players have tested positive (NY Post)
*MLB’s Nationals may need a new home park (Washington Post)
*News on contact tracing for Nevada visitors (Nevada Independent)
*Can sports event attendees be trusted to keep masks on? (Mediate)
VSiN Clips/Tweets on Betting Restarts and Football
*Mitch and Pauly talk about the Tennessee Titans (Follow the Money)
*Mitch and Pauly talk to Paul Charchian about the Dallas Cowboys (Follow the Money)
*Danny Burke talks to Rampart Race and Sports Book Manager Duane Colucci about the NHL qualifying round (A Numbers Game)
*Michael Lombardi on the New Orleans Pelicans’ outlook (Lombardi Line)
*Ron Flatter talks Aussie Rules Football with Michael and Patrick Meagher (Lombardi Line)
*JVT and Matt Youmans discuss MLB win totals (The Edge)