Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs Live

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs Live CLICK

It all comes down to this.

After squandering a 3-1 series lead, the Boston Bruins need a win on home ice to keep their playoff run alive — as the Black and Gold will host the Toronto Maple Leafs for Game 7 Wednesday at TD Garden. The matchup is tabbed for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Here’s a look at 10 things to know ahead of puck drop Monday night.

1. The Bruins are sticking with their tried-and-true lineup

After tinkering with the lineup ahead of Game 6 Monday, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is rolling out the group he has relied on all season to try to get the job done Wednesday night.

Danton Heinen will return to the lineup for Game 7 and skate on the third line with Riley Nash and David Backes, while Rick Nash will slot up to his usual place on the second line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.

While putting a young scorer like Ryan Donato into the lineup might help alleviate the Bruins’ struggles with putting the puck past Frederik Andersen, Cassidy noted that Heinen brings a versatility that Boston can utilize. Along with his 200-foot-game, Heinen can also move up and down the lineup if needed.

“He sat a game,” Cassidy said of Heinen. “Generally, guys have come back into the lineup and played well. … That’s why the decision was made. He’s played really well for us this year and we expect him to do that tonight.”

Here’s a look at the Bruins projected lineup ahead of Game 7 Wednesday night.

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Rick Nash

Danton Heinen – Riley Nash – David Backes

Tim Schaller – Sean Kuraly – Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug – Kevan Miller

Matt Grzelcyk – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
2. Boston’s top line needs to finish …

As the Bergeron line goes, so goes the Boston Bruins.

Seems rather obvious, but the numbers speak for themselves.

In Boston’s three wins this series, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have combined for six goals and 23 total points.

In three loses, the trio are scoreless.

The chances have been there for the top line, but in what has been a recurring trend, Boston just hasn’t been able to bury its looks against Andersen.

I can go through and point out the numerous grade-A chances generated by players like Marchand and Pastrnak over the last couple of games, but I might lose track of all of them.

It’s been a frustrating couple of games for Boston, but if players like Pastrnak (10 SOG in Game 5) continue to test Andersen, sooner or later the Bruins are going to finally light the lamp.

3. …. but the trio don’t plan on making any adjustments

David Pastrnak is not here for your questions about making adjustments.

When asked Tuesday what he needed to do to fix his recent scoring drought, Pastrnak was frank. If the chances are there, eventually the 21-year-old sniper is going to bury them.

“I’m not going to change anything,” Pastrnak said. “I keep shooting and keep getting chances. The goalie makes saves. I think that’s a pretty stupid question.”

Fair to say, the snakebitten winger isn’t lacking any confidence going into Game 7.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” Pastrnak said. “Obv we know we are a good team. We know how to play and we just need to find a way to do it right away.”

4. Tuukka Rask has to get over the hump in Game 7

Aside from getting yanked in a disappointing showing in Game 5 at home, Tuukka Rask has more than held his own in net — keeping Boston alive in Game 6 with a number of highlight-reel stops during the third period.

Rask has not been the main culprit for most of Boston’s woes this series, but the netminder does have a bit of a history when it comes to performing during Game 7 situations.

Entering Wednesday night, Rask is 1-2 in Game 7s with a 3.63 goals-against average and a .849 save percentage. Yikes.

Rask’s lone win came during Boston’s improbable 5-4 OT win over the Leafs in 2013, but the Bruins netminder allowed three goals on 18 shots against Montreal in 2014 while letting a 3-0 lead slip away in a crushing loss to the Flyers in 2010.

Do all of these goals fall directly on Rask? Of course not. But you can’t look past these numbers. It’s time for Rask to exorcise these Game 7 demons with a strong showing in net Wednesday.

5. Can the Bruins capitalize against Frederik Andersen?

Amid all of the analysis and discussion ahead of Game 7, the fact of the matter is that the play of Frederik Andersen in net is going to be the main factor that determines the outcome of Wednesday’s game.

After getting pulled in Game 2 (3 GA on 5 SOG), Andersen has stood on his head between the pipes for the Leafs — holding off the Bruins with a 42-save effort on the road in Game 5 before turning aside 32 of the 33 shots that came his way in Game 6.

Andersen has had his fair share of success against Boston over the years, but Toronto’s netminder can certainly be beat.

Also, for all of the grief that Rask gets for his Game 7 resume, take a look at Andersen’s track record — 0-2, 3.65 GAA, .848 sv.

Yeesh.

6. Bruins need to shake off poor finish to Game 6

The last two games haven’t gone in the Bruins’ favor, but it’s easy to sort through the positives from Games 5 and 6. Boston hasn’t labored when it comes to generating shots on goal against Andersen, and that’s not likely to change in Game 7.

However, Boston’s sluggish showing in the third period of Monday’s loss has left a bad taste in the mouth of Bruins fans — and for good reason.

Trailing by just a goal entering the final stanza, the Bruins weren’t able to do much against the Leafs in the final minutes of Game 6, firing just seven shots on goal in the period and fumbling a pair of stints on the power play.

“I thought that came on in effect more in the third period,” Cassidy said of frustration setting in during Game 6. “I thought we started pressing a little bit one-on-one instead of using each other. … That’s where I’d say we got away from our game a little bit. Part of that, you’ve got to give credit to them. They played a lot better third period than they did in the previous game in terms of not allowing us to get to the net.

A quick start will be crucial for the Bruins Wednesday, as will be a return to form for Boston’s power-play units (1-for-9 since Game 2).

7. Can someone stop Mitch Marner?

The Maple Leafs might boast one of the top young scorers in the league in Auston Matthews, but Toronto’s top player so far this series has been 20-year-old forward Mitch Marner.

A speedy skater that’s strong on the puck despite his 6-foot, 175-pound frame, Marner has torched the Bruins so far this series, tallying eight points over six games while forming a stout second line with Patrick Marleau and Nazdem Kadri.

Marner seems to enjoy playing against the Boston Bruins, as the winger tallied nine points (three goals, six assists) in four games against the Black and Gold during the regular season.

A beneficiary of the Maple Leafs’ up-tempo, stretch-pass-happy offense, Marner will likely play a big role in a possible Toronto win Wednesday at TD Garden.

Slovenia vs Hungary Live

Slovenia vs Hungary Live Hockey

What is it and BBC coverage?

The IIHF World Championships are an annual sports event organised by the International Ice Hockey Federation. There’s three divisions with a promotion and relegation system. GB men are in Division 1 Group A after achieving promotion last year.

BBC Coverage

22 April

12:30 BST – GB v Slovenia – BBC Sport Website and app

24 April

16:00 BST – Kazakhstan v GB – BBC Sport Website and app

25 April

16:00 BST – GB v Poland- BBC Sport Website and app

27 April

19:30 BST – Italy v GB – BBC Sport Website and app28 April

19:30 BST – Hungary v GB – BBC Sport Website and app

Ice Hockey is a full-contact team sport with short bursts of training and exercise – if you think that sounds puck-er, then give it a go. If you’re a beginner, skating on ice is easy to pick up, so don’t let that put you off.

Find Ice Hockey clubs and rinks near you by visiting the English and Welsh, Scottish, or Irish Ice Hockey Association websites. In Northern Ireland, the Belfast Giants are an elite team, but they have a junior section too.
You can find out more about getting involved here.

Japan vs Lithuania Live

Locked Shields 2018, the largest and most advanced international live-fire cyber defense exercise in the world, kicked off at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn on Wednesday.

Japan vs Lithuania Live Hockey

This year’s edition of the exercise embraces both a technical and a strategic game, the main aim of which is to rehearse protecting different vital services and military systems in the event of a large-scale cyberattack. Altogether more than 1,000 experts from 30 countries are taking part in the exercise, spokespeople for the the CCD COE said.

“Exercise Locked Shields demonstrates how large-scale cyber incidents affect very different systems and areas, both in the civilian and military domain. An international cyber conflict has multiple layers, which extend beyond cyberspace. In addition to solving technical challenges, it is important to understand the impact of cyber operations on the strategic and political level. That’s what we are rehearsing at the exercise,” said CCD COE director Merle Maigre.

Only the countries which are members of the CCD COE or its key partners can take part in the exercise with a team protecting the system, or Blue Team. In this year’s exercise 22 Blue Teams are taking part, including teams of NATO and the European Union.

“Locked Shields is highly valued among cyber experts. Access to this exercise is one of the reasons why countries wish to become members of the CCD COE,” Maigre said.

In the intensive exercise that uses state-of-the-art technologies, computer networks and methods of attack, cyber security, legal, strategy and media experts from the participating countries, NATO and the EU get the opportunity to put their skills in solving a cyber incident to a test.

In Locked Shields 2018, the teams will be protecting the computer systems and information systems of an imaginary country that has come under attack. In addition to a large-scale cyberattack, a number of other developments undermining security will take place in the country under attack. The aim is to offer a real life-like picture of the scope of the impact that cyber incidents can have and how well thought-out comprehensive must be the measures aimed at solving them.

The CCD COE is a NATO-accredited cyber defense hub focusing on research, training and exercises. The international military organization based in Estonia is a community of currently 20 nations providing a 360-degree look at cyber defense, with expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations and law.

The CCD COE is home of the Tallinn Manual 2.0, the most comprehensive guide on how international law applies to cyber operations. The center also organizes the world’s largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defense exercise, Locked Shields.

Another highlight of the center is the International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon) a unique event joining key experts and decision-makers of the global cyber defense community in Tallinn every spring. The tenth anniversary event, CyCon X: Maximizing Effects, will take place from May 30-June 1. In partnership with the Munich Security Conference, the CCD COE will host the Cyber Security Summit in Tallinn on May 29, on the eve of CyCon.

The CCD COE is staffed and financed by its member nations, which currently include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Australia, Norway and Japan have all recently announced that they are planning on joining the CCD COE.

Italy vs Kazakhstan live

GENOA, Italy (AP) — Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 for France to lead Italy 2-1 in the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

Herbert’s and Mahut’s constant net rushing proved too much to handle for the Italian pair, which fell apart late in the opening set.

Fognini missed an easy overhead smash and Bolelli served consecutive double faults when Herbert and Mahut broke to take the first set.

The French pair won the 2015 U.S. Open and 2016 Wimbledon titles together while Fognini and Bolelli won the 2015 Australian Open.

Fognini replaced Paolo Lorenzi in Italy’s doubles lineup.

In Sunday’s reverse singles on the outdoor red-clay court, Fognini faces Lucas Pouille, and Andreas Seppi meets Jeremy Chardy.

“Hopefully the boys can get the job done in the singles,” Herbert said. “It’s going to be a great match with Lucas and Fognini.”

Defending champion France is aiming for a spot in the last four for the third straight year.

WTA Charleston (4/2-4/8)

Tennis Channel Plus has live outer-court coverage from the Volvo Car Open beginning Monday 4/2 at 10 AM ET. All matches from the tournament will be available on-demand.

Davis Cup Quarterfinals (4/6-4/8)

Check out Davis Cup ties Germany vs. Spain, France vs. Italy and Kazakhstan vs. Croatia LIVE beginning Friday 4/6 at 5:30 AM ET on Tennis Channel Plus

WTA Miami

Miss any of the action from the Miami Open? Catch up and watch all your favorite WTA players anytime and on-demand on Tennis Channel Plus
Get Tennis Channel Plus at BuyTCPlus.com

Thunder vs Jazz live

The Timberwolves play the Rockets and Utah faces Oklahoma City in today’s NBA Playoff action.

FROM Average Joe to King Joe in the space of two hours — the Joe Ingles story.

The Australian shooter was everywhere in the Utah Jazz’s heated game four win over Oklahoma City Thunder.

Much more than his 20-points, the swingman contributed his trademark Aussie fighting spirit and got up in the faces of Thunder stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

Their series of heated confrontations led to the unheralded Aussie becoming the No. 1 trending term on Twitter in the United States.

Meanwhile, Minnesota clawed its way back into its playoff series against Houston on the weekend but was unable to maintain the rage today. The Rockets lead 3-1 after James Harden inspired the Rockets to victory with a stunning third quarter rampage.

Joe Ingles was picked to do the post-game interview with American broadcaster TNT — and it was every bit as enthralling as his mighty performance on the floor.

In a five minute chat to NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, Ingles had to endure an awful attempt at an Aussie accent by Shaq and questions about Sir Charles’ infamous battle with Aussie legend Shane Heal.

Ingles light-heartedly joked Barkley was “lucky he walked the other way” after Heal dropped a three-point bomb and then charged up to the NBA superstar during a game between the Boomers and the Dream Team.

He also declared he won’t be backing down from his running battle with Paul George.

“He’s a really good player and I’ve got my work cut out for me each night defending him,” Ingles said.

“I’m not going to back down. I’m going to compete and from 1-15 we’re going to have a crack.”

3.30pm

Ingles trends No. 1 in USA as NBA playoffs explode

Joe Ingles was trending No. 1 on Twitter in the United States as he delivered a deliciously cheeky, blockbuster performance as the Jazz blasted Oklahoma City to take a 3-1 series lead in their NBA playoffs series.

Ingles was the star of the show after getting under the skin of Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

The Aussie shooter dropped five three-pointers and finished with 20 points and four rebounds.

More than that, he brought the fight to the Thunder and had his opposition completely rattled.

Rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell finished with 33 points.

Ingles was picked to do the post-match interview with the TNT commentary team after the game and enjoyed some time in the sptlight with Shaquille O’Neal.

Mitchell’s haul led the Utah Jazz to a 113-96 win.

Game 5 is on Wednesday night. Paul George scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Thunder. Oklahoma City lost its third straight in the series after shooting just 39 percent from the field.

The Thunder opened up a 26-19 lead late in the first quarter when Carmelo Anthony capped a string of three straight Oklahoma City baskets with an alley- oop layup. They held onto the lead for much of the second quarter until Utah finally woke up on offense.

Starting with Rudy Gobert cutting to the rim for a dunk with 3:45 left in the second quarter, the Jazz scored on 11 straight offensive possessions to blow the game wide open. Ingles fueled the surge by hitting three straight 3-pointers to put Utah in front 58-52 before halftime.

It finally culminated in another Gobert dunk that punctuated a 20-3 run extending over the second and third quarters that gave Utah a 67-52 lead. The Jazz led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter. Utah went up 87-68 when Mitchell drained a jumper and then fed Ingles for a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.

Physical play and heated emotions characterized the game. Both teams picked up two technical fouls before halftime. Then Jae Crowder was ejected with a technical foul with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

— with AP

3.10pm

Ingles sets tempo as teammate gets ejected

Joe Ingles’ running needling of Oklahoma stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George became the biggest talking point of the heated Game four battle between the Utah Jazz and the Thunder.

Ingles’ ability to get under the skin of OKC’s superstars brought the crowd to life — and then brought his teammates up to his level of feistiness.

It peaked in the fourth quarter when Jazz star Jae Crowder was ejected from the game for returning fire at Westbrook.

The Thunder reigning MVP deliberately fouled Crowder during a fast break, leading to a scrum as players ran in from all angles.

When the dust settled, Crowder was ejected for appearing to strike out at Westbrook.

Rockets vs Timberwolves live

The Houston Rockets used a 50-point third quarter to win Game 4, and now the No. 1 seed has a chance to close out the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game5.

After an ugly Game 3 loss, the Houston Rockets didn’t respond all that well in Game 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rockets trailed by seven points early in the second quarter as James Harden and Co. tossed up a bunch of bricks. Houston woke up a bit to take a one-point lead at halftime, but it was yet another lackluster performance after a regular season of domination.

Then the third quarter happened.

The Rockets finally clicked on all cylinders, pouring in a ridiculous 50 points (second-most ever in a playoff game) in the quarter as Harden completely took over. The MVP front-runner scored 22 of his game-high 36 points in the quarter, with Chris Paul chipping in 15 of his 25 points in the frame. Houston cruised to a 119-100 victory and will look to eliminate the Timberwolves with a win in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Harden has had some ugly stretches of shooting in this series, but he’s still putting up over 30 points per game and hitting 39 percent of his 3-pointers. CP3 has put his Game 1 disaster completely behind him, with averages of 20.8 points and six assists in the series while shooting nearly 52 percent.

Karl-Anthony Towns had his best game of the series in terms of pure production with 22 points and 15 rebounds, but the young big man also turned the ball over five times and struggled defensively. Jimmy Butler had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but he could do nothing against the Harden onslaught in the third quarter.

Derrick Rose was one of the few bright spots for Minnesota as he continues his mini-resurgence. Rose brought a spark off the bench and helped the Wolves grab their early lead, and he wound up with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He even hit both of his 3-point attempts, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists. Minnesota’s starting point guard, Jeff Teague, was a disaster with two points on 1-of-7 shooting and three turnovers.

Date: Wednesday, April 25
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Houston, Texas
Venue: Toyota Center
TV Info: TNT, AT&T SportsNet Southwest, FOX Sports North
Live Stream: Watch live on FuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial. Qualified subscribers can also watch on TNT Overtime.

The Wolves made things interesting for a bit, but the Rockets finally flexed their muscles with that monster third quarter to take full command of this series. As long as Houston plays relatively well offensively, this thing should be over in five.

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid Live

 

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid Live Coverage

Bayern Munich host Real Madrid in a huge semi-final clash tomorrow. Three of our writers discuss their predictions for the first leg of this massive tie.
The idea of Martinez playing his defensive midfield role behind Thiago and James making plays is why I chose a 4-1-4-1 formation. Thomas Müller was among those coming off the bench late against Hannover, so he’s in no matter what.
FanSided – Daily Highlights
Sponsored by Connatix

As a result, the most difficult decision came down to Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery. Ribery has been in better form lately, has shown good chemistry on the left side with David Alaba and was rested this past matchday while Robben played. Therefore, I think Heynckes will decide on the Frenchman.

In the back, I’m assuming there will be no changes to what has become the norm. The back four give Bayern the experience and skill necessary for such a big match. Ulreich will be the man in goal, so that experience and defensive savvy will be important in keeping him from being overworked.
Benjamin Scott

Ulreich

Kimmich – Boateng – Hummels – Alaba

Martinez – Thiago

Muller – James – Ribery

Lewandowski

No surprises here. Bayern Munich must be at their best against Real Madrid, which means Jupp Heynckes must play his best. Between injuries and other things, it’s pretty easy to choose Bayern’s best lineup. There are a few debatable areas, though.

Thomas Muller is in sensational form, so he simply has to play. James, meanwhile, has been key for Bayern this season and is a must-start for me against Real Madrid. However, the Colombian doesn’t quite provide enough defensive stability to be Javi Martinez’s only partner in midfield. So, Thiago steps in and plays in a deeper midfield role alongside his compatriot.

This pushes one Arjen Robben to the subs bench. He’s a bit out of form, so Franck Ribery gets the nod over him. This leaves Thomas Muller with the task of running the right wing alongside Joshua Kimmich. Robben can provide a huge impact as a “super sub” anyway. Should he come in, he’ll no doubt be eager to score a goal and prove why he deserves a spot in the starting lineup.
Kiran Thakare

Ulreich

Kimmich – Hummels- Boateng – Alaba

Martinez

Robben- James – Muller- Ribery

Lewandowski

Jupp Heynckes will turn to his key players for this game after resting most of them against Hannover. The back five selects itself, as David Alaba returns to the starting lineup after recovering from a minor injury. Joshua Kimmich will slot in the right-back position while Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng form the partnership in the heart of the defense. Sven Ulreich keeps his place in goal as Manuel Neuer is not yet to fit make the matchday squad.

The main conundrum for Heynckes is his midfield personnel. Javi Martinez is definitely playing in the defensive midfield position. The German manager has been playing Thomas Muller and James Rodriguez in midfield, and I feel he is likely to stick with the pair at home. Both the attacking midfielders have been in fine form and deserve to play in this big game.

In the attack, there is no doubt that Robert Lewandowski will lead the line for the German Champions. On the flanks, Heynckes will go with his most trustworthy lieutenants. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will slot in the right wing and left wing positions respectively.

Raptors vs Wizards Live

Are the Raptors’ playoff demons coming back to haunt them? It was a concern entering the postseason, even despite coming off a franchise-best season while also equipped with a revamped cast surrounding stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. However, that fear seemed to be put to rest after the first two games of their first-round series against the Wizards.

Raptors vs Wizards Live Click Here

Everything appeared to be just fine for this franchise. Toronto handily defeated the Wizards in Games 1 and 2 with little problem. DeRozan and Lowry were the stars their team needed them to be. The role players stepped up. The defense was incredible and Washington was on the verge of an implosion.

The Raptors would go on to lose Game 3, but even when they did, there was still confidence this team had everything handled. It was going to be different. The Raptors entered Game 4 with a 96 percent chance of advancing to the second round, according to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh. For most of Game 4, they lived up to that percentage.

Then the final two minutes happened.

Bradley Beal fouled out of the game and Washington somehow turned that into an advantage. The Wizards outscored the Raptors 9-2 and tied up the series. DeRozan, who scored 35 points in Game 4, struggled to make his presence felt down the final stretch and shouldered the blame for the loss.

“I blame myself for a lot of mistakes, for a lot of forced shots late in the game,” DeRozan said after watching tape of the game a day later, per the Toronto Sun. “Mental mistakes, turnovers, late-game execution, stabbing in the backcourt in transition late in the game. A lot of things.”

Toronto’s horrible loss dropped its chances of advancing to 76 percent, per SportsLine. There’s a sense of anxiousness that this team could embarrass themselves once again. What did they go away from on the road that worked so well for them at home? We break down some of the correctable issues Toronto needs to address going forward.
Clutch time issues

The final four minutes for the Raptors in Game 4 were disastrous. DeRozan shot 1 for 5 from the field and only scored four points. That one make was the only field goal Toronto converted during clutch time. DeRozan had five of the Raptors’ eight attempts in the closing minutes of the fourth.

This all sounds familiar doesn’t it? One player trying to do everything while everybody else watches. This DeRozan-style tunnel vision doesn’t come out much anymore, but it came roaring back in Game 4. The Raptors are a team that has gotten better under pressure, but those bad old habits are always waiting beneath them.

Defensively, it was somehow worse. The Wizards only settled for two types of shots: Near the rim and free throws. John Wall scored eight of the Wizards’ final 14 points. He was unstoppable and essentially lived at the rim. The Wizards’ success merely enhanced Toronto’s struggles.

It was uncharacteristic to see the Raptors play this way. They’ve moved past these struggles. They finished the season with a top-3 offense in the league behind a style that is predicated on ball movement.

The reason Toronto reverted back to a style that hasn’t worked in the postseason has to do with Games 3 and 4 as a whole. The Wizards made defensive changes, the Toronto bench became less comfortable, and slowly DeRozan started shooting more than he should. It was something that had been building over the course of the D.C. road trip.
Old habits do die hard

A huge part of the success this season came from the Bench Mob. Toronto’s ability to go 10 deep and hang with almost any NBA team is a benefit that few others have. However, in Games 3 and 4, the second unit found itself hesitating. Too often, bench players would wait for DeRozan and Lowry to do something. They’d even pass up open looks.

Some of this reluctance comes from missing Fred VanVleet, who is a worthy candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s been out with a shoulder injury and provides a calming presence when he’s on the floor. Without him, there’s been a general chaos from the role players. They haven’t been able to create on offense and it has amounted to more pressure put on Toronto’s star duo.

DeRozan and Lowry combined for 34 attempts in Game 4. The rest of the Raptors combined for 35 attempts. What happened in Game 3 was a little bit different because Toronto got blown out, but the same thought process stands true. By the end of the third quarter, the Wizards led 101-82. Lowry and DeRozan had combined to shoot 29 times to this point. The rest of the Raptors shot 32 times.

Some credit should go to Washington because it’s an interesting strategy on its part. The Wizards have stopped blitzing DeRozan and are willing to let him score as much as he wants. What they don’t want is for the role players to beat them like they did in the first two games.

In Game 1, 51 of 77 shots from Toronto came from players not named DeRozan or Lowry. In Game 2, 54 of 87 shots came from non-DeRozan and Lowry players. The evidence is clear. They need the role and bench players shooting the ball and shooting it often. They can’t let the Washington’s conservative style of play force them away from shots they know they can hit. More via the Toronto Sun:

“Shoot it, man. Every one of my teammates, I don’t care if they miss 20 shots in a row, if you get a shot, shoot it. That’s the confidence we’ve had in one another all year,” DeRozan said.

Fix the defense

Toronto has had other issues in this series, such as collapsing defensively for an entire quarter. The Raptors allowed 40 points in the third quarter of Game 4 and 39 in the second quarter of Game 3. Honestly, had the Raptors not given up these giant outbursts, the discussion around them would have been about how they swept Washington in the first round. That’s how detrimental those quarter-long collapses have been.

So what caused them? In Game 3, the solution is easy to see if you look at the shot chart for the quarter:

The Raptors were a complete saloon door on defense in Game 3. The Wizards, and John Wall in particular, were able to get to the rim with little resistance. It’s no wonder Washington didn’t have issues blowing the game open.

The reason why Toronto’s defense gave up as many points as they did in Game 4, however, is more complicated. It forced Washington to spread out far more and attempt more mid-range jumpers. There was some improvement from game to game in terms of what kind of shots were allowed. However, they traded some of those shots at the rim for a more dangerous look.

The issue here seems to come from 3-point range. The Wizards had a single miss from deep the entire quarter and that builds up over time. Add in the nine attempts near the rim and Washington was able to play very efficient basketball for that quarter. This is also when Washington’s comeback began.

It’s impossible to expect perfect defense at all times, but these monstrous scoring quarters decimate a team that finished the season as the fifth-ranked defense in the NBA.

Don’t panic

Despite all of these problems. There is no reason to panic right now. It’s easy to say that these are the same ol’ Raptors, and some of the evidence would say it is. However, the key difference is that previous Raptors teams played this way on purpose. They intentionally forced the ball into Lowry and DeRozan’s hands. They let defenses blitz them and the role players really played small roles.

The two wins are evidence that when the Raptors have control of the game, they play a style that works. The ball moves and the role players score. The Wizards deserve credit for forcing Toronto back into something uncomfortable. However, there is still plenty of time for adjustments to be made that could put the series back in Toronto’s favor.

The Ghost of Raptors Past might be here, but Toronto shouldn’t have to worry about it this time. This Raptors team has won games with a different identity and the players know the only way to keep winning games is by not reverting back to old habits. They won’t fall into those old bad habits. Not again.

Cavaliers Vs Pacers Basketball Live

One team was supposed to be here all along. The other was two regular-season losses away from missing the playoffs and setting into motion a major overhaul that likely would have included firing its coach and front office, and possibly would have stretched into a trade involving one of the league’s best players.

 Cavaliers Vs Pacers Basketball Live  Click Here

But the stunning sweep of Portland by the Pelicans earned them a spot in the conference semifinals for the first time in a decade. (They were called the Hornets then, making this the first time in league history that a team named for a genus of large, migratory water birds has reached any conference semifinal.)

It surely saved the job of head coach Alvin Gentry, and likely the job of GM Dell Demps, too. That means teams anticipating a Pels fire sale can cross off Anthony Davis from their wish lists.

Less stunning was the downing of the Spurs by the Warriors, who were without star guard Stephen Curry and will be without him for at least the opening of this series. There was little dropoff without Curry, though, as the Warriors defense — which had been a question mark coming in — kicked into gear against San Antonio, holding the Spurs to 96.8 points per game.

The offense was buoyed, naturally, by Klay Thompson (22.6 points per game, 51.6 percent on 3-pointers) and Kevin Durant (28.2 points per game).

The Pelicans, led by Davis’ 33.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in the Portland series, have looked like a different team lately, cohesive defensively and surprisingly explosive offensively. They’ve won nine straight going back to the regular season, and have scored 118.2 points on 51.8 percent shooting and 39.6 percent from the 3-point line in those nine games.

Different would certainly be good from the New Orleans perspective — going back to 2013, including the playoffs, the Warriors have beaten the Pelicans in 24 of 26 games.

The key player

The Pelicans were pretty much a four-man operation against the Blazers, with Davis being backed by a consistent offensive performance from Nikola Mirotic and the rise-to-the-occasion playoff performance of point guard Rajon Rondo.

But the difference in the series against Portland was Jrue Holiday, who not only scored 27.8 points per game with 6.0 assists, shooting 56.8 percent from the field, but also locked down Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard on the defensive end.

Holiday will have a tougher go of things against Golden State and Klay Thompson, one of the best two-way guards in the league. Without Curry, Holiday has a better shot at keeping up with Thompson, but it will be no easy task — the Pelicans can’t offer much help to Holiday because they have to cope with Durant.

The big number

12. Get Rondo to 12 assists, and the Pelicans win — almost always, at least.

This season, including two wins over Portland, New Orleans has gone 15-2 when Rondo tops 12 assists. As a team, the Pelicans are 22-6 when they log 29 or more assists.

On the flip side, the Warriors allowed just 19.8 assists per game to the Spurs in their opening-round series.

Warriors vs. Pelicans: The prediction

The Pelicans are one of the really good stories to come out of the first round of the playoffs, and for a team that has had such bum luck in the last few years, it’s good to see things finally go their way.

But good first-round stories usually die in the semifinals, and even without Curry, the Warriors have way more depth and far better options than New Orleans.

Warriors in 5

Cavaliers vs Pacers Live

Cavs vs. Pacers Live Stream: Watch NBA Playoffs Game 5,6,7 Online

The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have much momentum on their side, and they’ll need it to swing their way soon if they want to avoid their vacations beginning later this month. Down 2-1 in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Indiana Pacers after blowing a 17-point halftime lead in Game 3, the Cavs could be in a world of trouble if they fall Sunday night at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Here’s how to watch Cavaliers vs. Pacers Game 4 online: When: Sunday, April 22, at 8:30 p.m. ET Live Stream: TNT

Cavaliers vs Pacers Live  Click Here

Cavs vs Pacers Game 5,6,7 LIVE stream: How to watch NBA playoffs online or on TV

THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS take on the Indiana Pacers in Game 5,6,7 their NBA playoff series tonight. Express Sport is on hand to explain how you can watch the match LIVE.

This Cleveland side are in serious trouble. They are 2-1 down heading into Game 4 in Indiana.

LeBron James has been sensational through the three games for the Cavaliers but his support cast have not been able to raise their levels.

Kevin Love picked up an injury in the last game but is expected to be fine to start tonight.

For Indiana, their confidence is sky-high with Bojan Bogdanovic being the star of the show last time out.

Victor Oladipo has built on his reputation to be named this year’s Most Improved Player of the Year and looks like a completely different player to the one seen in Oklahoma last season.

It promises to be a fascinating match-up with plenty at stake and here’s how you can watch the action live.

How to watch Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers on TV

Tonight’s action is scheduled to start at 1:30am BST and but is not available to watch on UK television.

BT Sport is the exclusive home of the NBA in the UK for the 2017/18 season.

They will broadcast up to seven lives games per week throughout the regular season and the first and second rounds of the playoffs, as well as every game of the conference finals and NBA Finals.

How to watch Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers online

With the game not being shown on TV in the UK, it won’t be available on the BT Sport app.

But you can sign up for the NBA League Pass with the option of a day pass to watch the coverage live.

The NBA League Pass lets you watch every NBA game depending on the package you select.

American viewers can catch the action online by also going for the NBA League Pass.