Mitch's Sports: Forget The Leafs. Raptors Are Toast Of Toronto After Winning Game One Of NBA Finals
Until last night, an NBA finals game had never been played outside the United States.
Not only has that milestone been achieved, but the team that hosted that game won its first ever NBA finals contest, and are now three wins away from bringing a first-evern NBA championship to the city of Toronto.
Pascal Siakam scored 32 points, a playoff career high, and the Toronto Raptors beat the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors 118-109 to take game one and send a message that Canada may be primed to forge its own origin story by defeating a team from the country where the game was born and bred.
Kawhi Leonard added 23 points and Marc Gasol poured in 20 for the Raptors, while Steph Curry countered with 34 for Golden State. Holding Curry to 34 points may not seem like an especially effective result, but those 34 were not supported by the breadth of scoring depth the Raptors displayed.
The Warriors will need to get more from supporting players like Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who did have 21 last night, but unless and until the injured Kevin Durant is able to come back--he sat out game one--it can't be incumbent on Curry alone to carry the Warriors to their third straight NBA title. The Raptors have too many weapons to beaten by one player, and Kawhi Leonard is due to have at least one game in the series in which he explodes for forty or more points.
Toronto native and international rap superstar Drake was spotted wearing a Curry jersey at the game, but far from betraying his beloved Raptors, it was a number thirty Curry jersey, a nod to Steph's Dad Dell Curry, a long time NBA veteran who ended his career with Toronto. Game two is Sunday night.
In Major League Baseball the Boston Red Sox and NY Yankees had their ancient rivalry interrupted by Mother Nature, with game one of their four game series rained out last night in the Bronx. The same two pitchers are scheduled to face each other tonight, though. Chris Sale will try to stop the Red Sox two game losing skid when he takes the hill tonight against JA Happ for the first place Yankees, who have a 7 and a half game lead over third place Boston, and a slim half game lead over second place Tampa Bay, who have now won six in a row after a 14-3 pounding of the Minnesota Twins last night. No small feat there, as the Twins have been cutting a swath through the league while producing baseball's best record to this point in the season.
One of the hottest pitchers in the game is Hyun-Jin Ryu of the L.A. Dodgers, who's won all five starts he's made in the month of May including last night's 2-0 win over the NY Mets at Dodger Stadium. Ryu pitched into the eighth inning while giving up just four hits and striking out seven. The Dodgers gave Ryu all the run support he would need in the first inning when Chris Taylor doubled off Mets starter Jason Vargas and scored on a double by Max Muncy.
At the French Open tennis tournament Novak Djokovic has cruised into round three with a straight set victory over Henri Laaksonen yesterday. Roger Federer, the grizzled veteran of the tournament, but still a threat to win it, also breezed into the next round as did Rafael Nadal, so no major upsets yet on the men's side.
In the women's bracket, top-seeded Naomi Osaka, as she did in round one, dropped her first set, but rallied to win the next two to get by Victoria Azarenka. Simona Halep, who won the clay court championship last year, also struggled against 87th-ranked Magda Linette, dropping the middle set, but did survive to keep hopes of defending her title alive.
Serena Williams is also alive and well in the tournament, getting into round three after a straight set win over Kurumi Nara yesterday.
The biggest sports news of the day, though, came out of Maryland, where the 94th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee produced something it never had before in its championship round--a tie. Not just any tie--an eight way tie. Yes, eight finalists all spelled their final 47 words correctly in the 20th and final round of competition, an unprecedented result and a happy one for all eight winners. They will each get a Scripps National Spelling Bee championship cup trophy, and will each get the $50,000 first place prize that comes with being the nation's best speller, that money won't be split among them.
There's another cup up for grabs, and the goal is to have the names of the players vying for it etched onto its glittering silver surface. That cup would be Lord Stanley's, and the battle for it continues tomorrow night in St. Louis with with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues tied at one game apiece.
If the Bruins win three more games in the series they will have won the Cup for the seevnth time in franchise history. The Blues are seeking their first since joining the league in the 1967 NHL expansion.
One player who won't be able to take part in that quest for game three at least is St. Louis forward Oskar Sundqvist, who's been suspended by the NHL for one game for the hit into the boards on Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
Grzelcyk was sent to the hospital following that hit from behind in game two and will not be available fro game three, according to Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. It seems an appropriate disciplinary action by the league, similar to the one game suspension that was doled out to Bruins blue liner Charlie McAvoy who had to sit out a game in the series against Columbus after delivering a check that got up too high, striking the jaw of a Blue Jackets player.
Dangerous hits to the head or into the boards when a player can't protect himself need to be policed stringently by the league, and no series should be decided one way or the other by a player being forced from the game due to a reckless and too aggressive action.