There’s no place like home
The GIST: After going down 2-0 early in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors roared back to tie the series with an enormous 120–102 Game 4 win on Tuesday.
How’d they turn it around?: Short answer? Home court advantage. Kawhi Leonard put the Raps on his back and clawed his way (see what we did there?) to a double overtime win in Game 3. And Game 4 brought a much-needed team effort.
Norm Powell, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet all came off the bench (aka weren’t in the starting lineup) and scored double-digit points, while Kawhi put up only 19 (he’s been averaging an insane 31 points per game these playoffs). It was VanVleet’s best game of the playoffs, and he gave all credit to a motivational boost from the birth of his second son, Fred. Jr., on Monday. S’cute.
Home is where the heart is: Both teams have only found success at home this series, which could be trouble for Toronto as two of the (possible) three games left are scheduled to be played in Milwaukee.
But if the Raptors can figure out how to win on the road in Game 5, it’s all but guaranteed they’ll come home to a bigger Game 6 crowd than the monstrous hype-machine that showed up for Game 4. And, of course, to Drake.
Over in the West: The Golden State Warriors made easy work of the Portland Trail Blazers, sweeping them 4-0 to make it to their fifth-straight NBA Final. And that’s all without the help of two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who remains sidelined with a calf injury. Just absurd.
Stepping up in his place have been Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, who, in Game 4, became the first teammates in NBA history to record triple-doubles in the same playoff game. Them boys up to something.
Who do you think puts up the most points in Game 5 for the Raptors? Kawhi? Kyle Lowry? The bench mob? Get in the conversation!
A Rematch for the Ages
The GIST: The Boston Bruins finally know who they’ll be playing in the Stanley Cup Final starting May 27th. After the St. Louis Blues knocked out the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6 on Tuesday, they booked their first ticket to the final in 49 years (!!!).
Because fate works in mysterious ways, the last time the Blues were playing for the Cup, back in 1970, was against none other than the Bruins.
Tell me about Boston: The Bruins are the favourite heading into the final as they have a better regular season record and have more Stanley Cup experience (they were the runner-up in 2013 and won the Cup in 2011).
But get how weird this is: In the Eastern Conference this year, the NY Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, then the NY Islanders were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round and then the Hurricanes were swept by the Bruins in round three. Freaky right? We’re no AI machine, but it seems with this pattern it’s the Bruins’ turn to be swept.
There must be something in Boston’s water. In the last year, the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots BOTH won a championship. Throw in the Boston Celtics and the city has won 12 major league championships since 2000. The entire country of Canada over that span? Nadda, none, zero, zilch.
Tell me about St. Louis: Back in January, the Blues were dead last in the entire NHL standings. Now they’re in the hunt for their first-ever Stanley Cup. What a story.
Speaking of stories, it’s hard to ignore that of Canadian rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington. In his first year in the NHL he’s led his team from last place all the way to a Cup final. Started from the bottom now he here.
Maybe it’s Binnington who has gotten the Blues this far, maybe it’s adopting “Gloria” as their celebration music halfway through the season or maybe it’s the inspiring story of superfan Laila Anderson. Whatever it is, it’s working.
But the real question is: Are you Team Jim? Or Team Pam?
With no Canadian team in the mix, who are you cheering for? Who do you think is going to win?
Summer is for Hockey?
The GIST: While we wait for the Stanley Cup final to start, the world hockey championship is headed into quarter-final action this morning in Slovakia.
How is Canada doing?: After shutting out the U.S. 3–0 in their final round robin game, Canada finished first in Group A and will play Switzerland at 10:15 a.m. ET.
Canada’s biggest competition in the tournament will likely be Russia, led by Alexander Ovechkin and the only team with a perfect record through round robin play. Find the schedule and full results for the rest of the tournament here.
Are you the kind of person who can watch hockey year-round? Let us know!
The GIST: Female athletes have been changing the game and breaking down barriers this week, including putting their careers on the line in the hopes of effecting change.
Banding Together: Women’s hockey players continue to take matters into their own hands, recently announcing the first-ever Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association (PWHPA).
More than 200 players make up the PWHPA with the goal of forming a real, viable league that provides health insurance, money and support for its players.
These are the same #ForTheGame players who are boycotting pro hockey in North America and who are willing to sacrifice their own careers now so that there is a sustainable solution for women’s hockey in the future. Queens.
A Common Goal: Fifteen Canadian women’s soccer players and one coach have pledged 1% of their salaries to Common Goal, a soccer-based charity tackling social issues like gender equality and refugee integration. The movement now has 99 players, including 48 women. Talk about role models.
A First Outing: Last weekend, sprinter Dutee Chand became India’s first openly gay professional athlete.
Chand says she was inspired to come out after India overturned its longstanding ban on gay sex and has been applauded by many, including our fave Ellen DeGeneres. However, others are not so on board with the choice, including her own sister.
Living in a Loophole: Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, Olympic bronze medallist in the 800m, is joining Caster Semenya in refusing to take medication to lower her testosterone levels.
Wambui is worried about the side effects and is considering switching to the 100m or 200m to avoid the ban that applies only to events from the 400m to the mile.
Semenya is instead taking her skills to a longer race and plans to compete in the 3000m at an international track and field meet on June 30, after the new rules have come into effect. Ugh. This is all so frustrating.
There’s a lot to unpack with these stories. And we want to hear your thoughts on all of them.
What’s Up This Week?
Tonight: It’s Raptors vs. Bucks in Game 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Only two more wins separate one of these teams from the NBA Finals. Nerves? What nerves…
This game is a big deal, and you’re going to want to watch it in the right spot, surrounded by fans, drinks and food. Cue Shark Club. Not only is it a great place to watch the game, but they also have an amazing Appy Hour Menu — apps are $7 and classic cocktails are only $5. Appy hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close Monday to Friday. See you there!
Friday: Canada’s women’s soccer team plays a World Cup tune-up match against Spain at 1 p.m. ET. The Women’s World Cup kicks off on June 7th, with Canada’s first game on the 10th. When you’re done watching soccer, you can watch the tip-off of the 2019 WNBA season. There’s no Canadian WNBA team (yet) but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch. Check out the WNBA schedule here.
Saturday: The Raptors are guaranteed to be back in action at 8:30 p.m. ET for Game 6 back in Toronto. Move over Maple Leafs, there’s a new playoff stress-inducer in town.
Saturday–Sunday: The Canadian men’s rugby sevens team is playing in the U.K., in their second-to-last World Rugby Sevens tournament of the season. Games start at 5:28 a.m. ET.