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This You Gotta See: NBA sizzles, U.S. Open begins, White Sox’ Lucas Giolito rides again

Sports are back.

Yeah, we know, we’ve been saying that a lot lately. We said it in July when baseball got going again. We said it when August arrived, bringing hockey and basketball with it. We’ve kind of said it over and over again, now that we think of it, probably because it’s reassuring and just plain feels good.

Did we mention sports are back? It’s true, now more than ever since the coronavirus outbreak pulled the plug on all games and leagues in March.

Look at the smorgasbord that is the week to come. The NBA is into its second round, with each series in the East — Bucks-Heat and Raptors-Celtics — having serious go-the-distance potential and the West contenders bringing all the offensive fireworks. As the NHL nears its conference finals, it’s almost a certainty the league will have a champion that hasn’t hoisted the Cup since before the lockout that zapped the 2004-05 season.

The up-and-coming Sox are Minneapolis-bound to take on a division heavyweight. The Cubs, coming off Sunday’s six-homer explosion, are hanging on to their division lead. The Sky and Fire are hard at it, while the Red Stars are merely waiting for their September schedule to be released. As the Bears wade deep into Mitch Trubisky-vs.-Nick Foles waters, every day vital with their Sept. 13 opener near, college football games — no, not in the Big Ten — already are upon us.

Tennis, anyone? The U.S. Open is here, too. Here’s what’s happening:

MON 31

U.S. Open (11 a.m., ESPN)

Marathon coverage of the first round gets underway in New York, and you know what that means. Defending champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu. The great Roger Federer and women’s world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. Wait, what? None of the four will be there? OK, then, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams it is.

White Sox at Twins (7:10 p.m., NBCSCH)

Lucas Giolito takes the ball for the first time since his no-hitter. No pressure or anything, pal, but what have you done for us lately?

Rockets at Thunder, Game 6 (8 p.m., TNT)

Does OKC guard Chris Paul have another “L” up his sleeve for his former team? Stop laughing, Russell Westbrook — anything is possible.

TUE 1

Celtics at Raptors, Game 2 (TBD, ESPN)

Boston blitzed the defending champs with 17 threes in a Game 1 runaway. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and the rest of the Raptors, meanwhile, couldn’t throw it into the ocean. Your move, NBA coach of the year Nick Nurse.

Canucks at Golden Knights, Game 5 (8:45 p.m., NBCSN)

Goalie Robin Lehner blanked the Canucks in Games 1 and 3 of this series. And to think he had only a single shutout over four months playing behind the impenetrable wall that was the Blackhawks defense.

WED 2

Lynx at Sky (6 p.m., The U)

Somebody might want to tell Sky coach/GM James Wade that he’s 0-4 against the Lynx and coach Cheryl Reeve, for whom he used to toil as an assistant. Then again, Wade has his hands full just trying to move forward without injured Azura Stevens and gone-from-the-bubble Diamond DeShields.

THU 3

Cubs at Pirates (12:35 p.m., MSN)

Better-than-ever Yu Darvish goes for win No. 7 on the season — unless manager David Ross elects to save him for the Cardinals series, which begins Friday. If we’re Darvish, we want the Buccos and their worst-in-the-NL offense. Is that selfish?

South Alabama at Southern Miss (8 p.m., CBSSN)

Here it is: For the first time this season, two FBS teams take the field and play some football. OK, so it isn’t Ohio State-Oregon, LSU-Texas or Notre Dame-Wisconsin. Sue ’em.

FRI 4

Bucks at Heat, Game 3 (TBD)

They aren’t the biggest names, but the guys surrounding Jimmy Butler — Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson — aren’t going down without a mighty fight. And even if they do, their names will still be easier to spell than Giannis Antetokounmpo’s.

SAT 5

Cardinals at Cubs (4:15 p.m., MSN)

It’s Game 2 of a five-game series between these rivals, and the first game of another Cubs doubleheader. Goodness, what a grind this sprint of a season has been. Just saying, Ryan Dempster and Jim Deshaies probably should keep their arms loose.

Arkansas State at Memphis (7 p.m., ESPN)

You remember Memphis, don’t you? The Tigers won 12 games last season and gave big, bad Penn State all it could handle in the Cotton Bowl. Look, this is the best college game all week whether you like it or not. You could at least pretend to be excited.

SUN 6

White Sox at Royals (1:05 p.m., NBCSCH)

As the Sox begin the final third of a 60-game regular season, we have to ask: How the heck did we get here so fast? Sniff. Sorry, but sometimes we get emotional watching our kids grow up like this.

New England at Fire (6:30 p.m., Ch. 9)

Fire coach Raphael Wicky probably isn’t looking for our advice. Still, if we were him? We’d draw up another one of those game plans that results in a 3-0 victory at Soldier Field. (You’re welcome, Wickster.)

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