Our event of the day is the NBA fixture between the Toronto Raptors and the Orlando Magic at the Scotiabank Arena. It is the NBA playoffs at last and the Eastern 2nd seed Raptors host the 7th seed Magic. The Raptors will hope to make a deep playoff run while the Magic are a surprise playoff team, ending a six-season playoff drought. This could shape up to be an exciting series, so be sure you don’t miss this first match. The Raptors have once again been rewarded for another strong season. They finished the regular season 58-24, one game back from their franchise-best finish last season. After the dismissal of Dwane Casey, long-time assistant Nick Nurse was promoted to head coach and has flourished. One of the biggest boons for the Raptors this season has been their good team cohesion and a clearly recognised hierarchy of talent. Many big teams have had interpersonal disputes but the Raptors have always appeared to be a unified front. At the top of the hierarchy is Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, a three-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs during the offseason. Returning from an injury that ruled him out of the entirety of the 2017-18 season, he has proceeded to have a career year. Averaging 26.6 points per game with a .546 effective field goal percentage, Leonard has been one of the biggest parts of the Raptors’ success this season. Looking at the playoffs, LeBron James’ departure from the Eastern Conference is a good sign for a deep Toronto run. Lebron’s Cavaliers had been the unbeatable team for Toronto, ending their playoff runs in the last three seasons.
However, with Lebron gone and the Cavaliers tanking, the way looks clear for Toronto. Standing between them and the conference semifinals are the Orlando Magic. Making their first postseason appearance since the 2011-12 season, the Magic are something of a surprise playoff team. Under the leadership of first year head coach Steve Clifford, they managed a 42-40 record, a 17-game improvement on last season. The end of the drought has got the city repeating the mantra of the Magic’s historic 1995 playoff run - 'why not us? Why not now?' Their biggest threat will of course be Kawhi but they hope to slow him down with Aaron Gordon. The 23-year-old has been able to stymie Leonard throughout their three meetings this season. When Gordon has defended Kawhi, the Toronto star has only managed 18 points per game - down from his season average by nearly ten points. However, Gordon is not expected to best Kawhi, instead the hope is that if Kawhi can be slowed down, the rest of the team can focus on besting Toronto. Miami is one of only eight teams to beat Toronto at home this season, as the teams split their regular season games 2-2. Miami has a mountain to climb but anything can happen in the NBA playoffs. Be sure you don’t miss the start of this exciting series.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NHL, where the Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden for the second game of their playoff series. Toronto lead after a dominant 4-1 win in the opening game of the series. They were aided by two goals from the young right winger, Mitch Marner. This was always expected to be a tight series so be sure you don’t miss Boston’s attempt to even the series tonight. Elsewhere, the Masters continue at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. In the AFL, Port Adelaide host Richmond at the Adelaide Oval. In the MLB, the Cincinnati Reds continue their series against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Great American Ballpark. In the MLS, the Montreal Impact host Columbus Crew at Stade Saputo. In jump racing, the Coral Scottish Grand National Meeting takes place at the Ayr Racecourse. The Singapore Men’s Sevens Tournament begins at the National Stadium in Kallang. In curling, the Players’ Championship continues at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by NBA
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