Tag Archives: finals

Sheriff’s deputy drops lawsuit against Masai Ujiri from NBA Finals altercation

A California law enforcement officer has dropped his lawsuit against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri that stemmed from an altercation at the 2019 NBA Finals.

The Raptors president subsequently dropped his countersuit against Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland, which was confirmed in a statement from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the team owner.

The Raptors, MLSE and the NBA were also named in Strickland’s lawsuit.

“Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be,” an MLSE spokesperson said in a statement. “We are disappointed that he and his family have had to endure the past 18 months of worry and uncertainty, but for their sake we are pleased the legal process has come to an end — and especially pleased that the claims made against Masai and MLSE were dismissed entirely, free of any financial settlement.

“We continue to be deeply troubled by the fact that Masai was put in this position in the first place, and believe he should never have had to defend himself. Masai is taking some time to process the ordeal, and intends to address it publicly at a later date.”

Strickland, who was seeking $ 75,000 US, had alleged he suffered physical injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth. Ujiri’s countersuit alleged that Strickland used excessive force against him. Ujiri also claimed that he never would have been treated with such disrespect if he wasn’t Black.

WATCH | Video shows altercation between Ujiri, sheriff’s deputy:

New video released by lawyers for Raptors president Masai Ujiri shows him being shoved by a sheriff’s deputy while trying to get onto the court to celebrate the team’s NBA championship last year. The deputy claims Ujiri was the instigator and has sued him for injuries. 2:23

The case caps a nearly two-year-long battle between their legal teams.

The incident happened on June 13, 2019, after the Raptors won Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

“I’m certainly happy it’s over for him and that he is done with it … it’s a long process that he had to go through, but he did it properly and just went through it without ever wavering,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said before the Raptors played the Wizards in Washington on Wednesday.

“I’m sure he’s glad it’s over with, as we all are.”

In the videos released, Ujiri was seen going into his pocket to bring out his credentials. However, as he tried to do that, Strickland is seen on his body-camera video shoving Ujiri twice, telling him he had no authority to be there. Ujiri then shoves Strickland back, which was all caught in the 11-second video. The Raptors president and his legal team argued there was no reason for Strickland to forcefully shove Ujiri.

“Mr. Ujiri was abundantly calm, reasonable and compliant during his encounter with Strickland, and there was absolutely no reason for Strickland to forcefully shove Mr. Ujiri twice without provocation,” Ujiri’s legal team said last October in a response to Strickland’s lawsuit. “At this stage, it would be improper to construe the facts in Strickland’s favour and find otherwise.”

The response also says Ujiri’s Fourth Amendment right was violated. Ujiri’s team says the Fourth Amendment requires officers to use force only when it is “objectively reasonable.”

Strickland’s civil suit was filed after prosecutors decided in October not to press criminal charges against Ujiri.

With both suits now dropped, neither side will gain any money as part of the mutual agreement, and each side will pay their own legal fees.

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CBC | Sports News

Davis, James lead way as Lakers roll past Heat to take early edge in NBA Finals

LeBron James finally got an easy Game 1 in the NBA Finals.

A very easy one, at that.

Anthony Davis scored 34 points, James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Miami Heat 116-98 on Wednesday night.

“The bigger the moment, he’s just raising his play,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said about Davis, who was making his finals debut and made it look easy.

The Heat left beaten and battered. Point guard Goran Dragic left in the second quarter and, a person with knowledge of the situation, said he was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot — which obviously jeopardizes his availability for the rest of the finals. And all-star centre Bam Adebayo left in the third quarter after apparently aggravating a left shoulder strain.

“We’re much better than we showed tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to credit the Lakers, and we’ll get to work for the next one.”

WATCH | Lakers crush Heat in Game 1:

LeBron James finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists in the LA Lakers 116-98 win over the Miami Heat in game one of the NBA Finals. 0:55

Game 2 is Friday night.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, Danny Green had 11 and Alex Caruso finished with 10 for the Lakers. They returned to the finals for the first time in a decade and sent a very clear message. James’ teams had been 1-8 in Game 1 of past finals, with losses in each of the last seven openers.

Not this one.

“We kind of picked it up on both ends of the floor,” Davis said.

Jimmy Butler fought through a twisted left ankle to score 23 points for Miami. Kendrick Nunn scored 18 points for the Heat, Tyler Herro had 14 and Jae Crowder 12.

“I, and we, are here for him,” Butler said about Dragic. “We know how much he wants to win, how much he wants to go to war and battle with us. And obviously, we love him for that and we want him out there with us. But whatever the docs tell him to do, that’s what he’s got to do. … He’s got to take care of himself first.”

Adebayo was held to eight points in 21 minutes, and Miami went with subs for a fourth-quarter burst that turned a total rout into something only slightly more palatable in terms of final margin.

WATCH | Dragic, Adebayo injured in Heat loss:

The Miami Heat lost Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo to injuries in their 116-98 loss to the LA Lakers in game one of the NBA Finals. 0:58

The Lakers did whatever they wanted. They outrebounded Miami 54-36, led by as many as 32 points, and made 15 3-pointers — a big number for a team that doesn’t necessarily count on piling up that many points from beyond the arc. They’re 21-3 this season when making at least 14 3s.

The only stretch that provided hope for Miami came in the first six minutes. The Heat scored on six consecutive possessions in what became a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead midway through the opening period.

So, the first six minutes were fine for Miami.

Everything else was all Lakers.

“You have to get a feel for how hard Miami plays,” James said. “They smacked us in the mouth and we got a sense of that. … From that moment when it was 23-10, we started to play to our capabilities.”

James, right, looks to pass while covered by Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson, left, and Goran Dragic during the first half. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

The simplest way to sum up what happened over the rest of the opening half is this: Lakers 55, Heat 25. The Lakers came into Game 1 ranked 21st out of the 22 teams that spent time in the bubble from 3-point range, making only 33.6 per cent of their tries from deep at Disney. They were the only team in the post-season to have two games shooting less than 25 per cent on 3s.

Perhaps they were due. The Lakers went 9-for-11 on 3’s in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Of the nine Lakers who played in the first two quarters, eight tried a 3-pointer — and all eight made at least one.

They closed the first quarter on a 19-3 run. Herro banked in a 3 from a sharp angle for a 43-41 Miami lead with 7:33 left in the half, and then the Lakers took off again, this time on a 24-5 burst to go into the break with a 65-48 lead.

The Lakers started the third on another run, this one 18-3, and the rout was officially underway.

“You can learn so much more from a win than you can in a loss,” James said. “I can’t wait for tomorrow for us to get back together and watch the film and see ways we can be better.”

The NBA Finals record book is basically a James scrapbook of career achievements, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday. He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.

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CBC | Sports News

As Raptors face Kawhi Leonard for 1st time since Finals win, load management is a hot topic again

He play.

At least that’s what should be expected of Kawhi Leonard when the Los Angeles Clippers host the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on Monday night. 

The load management strategy is still very much in effect, but Leonard will have had three full days of rest ahead of the first meeting between the reigning NBA champions and the Finals MVP who led the team there.

While load management is now a household term for NBA enthusiasts, it was just last season that sports-science guru Alex McKechnie unleashed it in Toronto.

Now promoted to vice-president of player health and performance with the Raptors, McKechnie devised a plan to keep Leonard fresh and allow him to be in peak form for the playoffs after appearing in all but nine games the previous season due to injury.

WATCH | Kawhi Leonard thanks Raptors fans after leaving as free agent:

Kawhi Leonard has nice words for his former team and the city of Toronto during his introductory press conference with the L.A. Clippers. 2:09

Apparently this plan followed Leonard in free agency to his hometown Clippers. 

Just last week, the Clippers held Leonard out of a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. Predictably, this didn’t sit well with fans and media who were hoping to see Leonard go toe-to-toe with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The widespread disdain for the Clippers’ decision to sit Leonard against Milwaukee also took into account that Leonard would instead play the next night in a less-hyped tilt with the Portland Trail Blazers.

ESPN analyst Doris Burke did not mince words when she was asked to weigh in on the load management phenomenon. 

“It is mind-boggling to me that Kawhi doesn’t want to play against the reigning MVP and he’d rather play against Portland on TNT,” Burke said.

Burke acknowledged the thinking behind the strategy, but also sees this as a bad look for the league. 

“The Clippers obviously have a responsibility to Kawhi and to winning and to long term,” Burke said. “But the league also I believe is and should be concerned that their best players are not playing on nights when they are on national television.”

California love

Leonard, 28, is very much the player Raptors fans remember from the championship run when he appeared in 60 of 82 regular-season games.

Through seven games this season, Leonard is averaging a career-high 29 points per game, while logging fewer minutes this season, down from 34 in 2018-19 to 30.9 per game.

Andrew Greif, a Clippers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, has been impressed by the all-star forward so far. 

“He’s been as advertised,” Greif told CBC Sports. “A strong defender and an at-times unstoppable scorer. We knew all that, before, of course, with his performance in last season’s playoffs the most forceful example yet of his ability to influence the game on both ends. But his ability to get to his ‘spots’ offensively is something I didn’t appreciate until I began watching him live, night-in and night-out.”

WATCH | Kawhi Leonard takes flight in debut with Clippers:

Leonard scored a game-high 30 points in the Clippers 112-102 win over the Lakers. 0:13

However, Leonard is carrying a considerable amount of the load despite the decrease in minutes as his usage percentage (plays that result in a field-goal attempt, free-throw attempt or turnover) has sky-rocketed to 39.5 per cent (league-average usage is 20 per cent), trailing only James Harden in that category. 

The Clippers, who have dropped a pair of games without Leonard, don’t appear to be hitting the panic button, especially with fellow all-star Paul George expected to make his debut in the coming weeks. 

The Clippers abide, mostly

There is also no sign of the Clippers caving to the cries of fans and media to ditch load management. 

At this point, there is really no reason to as the league has approved the process as was made evident prior to the Clippers’ 129-124 loss to Milwaukee.

“Kawhi Leonard is not a healthy player under the league’s resting policy,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement on Nov 6. “And, as such, is listed as managing a knee injury in the Clippers injury report. The league office, in consultation with the NBA’s director of sports medicine is comfortable with the team medical staff’s determination that Leonard is not sufficiently healthy to play in back-to-back games at this time.”

In a strange twist, the Clippers were fined $ 50,000 US the following day because coach Doc Rivers said Leonard was “healthy” after the NBA had confirmed Leonard’s load management for injury was consistent with league rules. 

For now, the Clippers will continue to keep us guessing regarding Leonard’s availability for back-to-backs. 

“I understand the frustration from fans, especially those who’ve paid for tickets and might not be able to watch another Clippers game live this season,” Greif said. “But to paraphrase Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ counter-argument from [earlier this season]: Clippers fans might be upset in the short-term, but long-term, they will cheer if the strategy pays off with a championship.”

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Bianca Andreescu withdraws from WTA Finals after MRI on injured knee

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu says she is withdrawing from the WTA Finals due to an injury to her left knee.

Andreescu said results from an MRI on Thursday convinced her she should not play her final round-robin match against Elina Svitolina on Friday at the season-ending, US$ 14-million event.

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., was eliminated from championship contention after retiring from her match against Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday as a result of the injury.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Andreescu, who shook hands with Pliskova after losing the first set 6-3, dropping her record to 0-2.

“It’s the last tournament of the season. You want to go all out, but stuff happens. You just got to take a step back, re-evaluate. That’s what I did. I think this is the best decision for me right now.”

WATCH | Andreescu injures left knee:

Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., injured her left knee while returning a serve in her WTA Finals match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Andreescu would later retire from the match. 1:50

American Sofia Kenin will replace Andreescu for the match against Svitolina.

Andreescu said she twisted her knee during a forehand return in the fifth game against Pliskova.

“I heard a crack,” she said. “After that, it was hard to put pressure on it. On the spot the physio thought it was my meniscus, so she taped it up. It was really hard to bend with the taping and the pain kept getting worse, so I had to stop.

“I fought with what I had, but I didn’t want to get it worse.”

WATCH | ‘I don’t want to stop,’ Andreescu tells coach:

Despite injuring her left knee, Bianca Andreescu vowed to carry on during the first round of her WTA Finals match against Karolina Pliskova. 0:40

The decision ends a year which was extremely successful, in spite of several injuries.

Andreescu reached a Canadian record No. 4 in the women’s tennis rankings after winning her first three career tournaments, including the U.S. Open for her first Grand Slam title.

In between winning her first and second events, Andreescu was sidelined for almost four months because of a shoulder injury.

Time off

The Canadian hurt her back in her opening match at the WTA Finals, a loss to Simona Halep, before suffering the season-ending knee injury.

“Definitely, I need some time off,” she said. “It’s been a short yet long season at the same time for me. I’m definitely going to take time off, be with my family, with my friends, recoup, then start my pre-season.

“I’ll become even stronger for 2020.”

Andreescu is the second player to pull out of the WTA Finals during the event because of injury. Japan’s Naomi Osaka dropped out because of a shoulder injury and was replaced by Kiki Bertens.

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Canadian Premier League finals: 3 key individual matchups to watch in Leg 2

Forge FC and Cavalry FC managed to keep things interesting in their eighth match of the season over the weekend at Tim Hortons Field.

Leg 1 of the Canadian Premier League Finals featured two sides that were, well, probably sick of seeing one another.

Still, the idea of an eighth and ninth match against the same team presents a strange prospect.

They know everything about you and you know everything about them … in theory, until one team throws a curveball.

As Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. aptly put it after his team’s 1-0 loss, Leg 1 was full of curveballs; two red cards and several moments of controversy made Saturday’s match seem like anything but a season finale.

Tactically, both Wheeldon and Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis had some tricks up their sleeves.

Here are three key matchups to look for in Leg 2 of Finals 2019 on Saturday at ATCO Field in Calgary:

Chris Nanco vs. Dominick Zator

Forge winger Chris Nanco had an absolute field day on Saturday with teammate Kwame Awuah behind him at fullback. The pair overran their opposite, Cavalry’s Dominick Zator, in a clear directive from Smyrniotis. Nanco set up Borges’ winning goal and completed produced numerous scoring chances as a tricky and direct attacker.

Smyrniotis was pleased with the duo’s work, too.

“Combining well put [Cavalry] on the back-foot, not only from an attacking end, but their defensive work: because of the way they attacked we were able to pin them a little bit further back and they neutralized guys like [Nico] Pasquotti and [Jose] Escalante,” Smyrniotis said after the match. “They did a lot more work defending, so they were excellent on both sides of the ball.”

Zator will likely stay at right fullback for Leg 2, with Jay Wheeldon replacing the suspended Joel Waterman in the middle. Nanco and Awuah clearly exploited Waterman’s lack of pace. So who slides in to help? Or does Spruce Meadows present something entirely different?

Kyle Bekker vs. Nik Ledgerwood

With Tristan Borges’ Leg 2 future uncertain as of writing, we turn to Forge’s other “Killer Bee.”

Saturday was a perfect example of what you don’t want Kyle Bekker to inflict on your team over 90 minutes; some 60 passes completed, several chances on goal and lots of space to operate. Some of this space came from Cavalry trying to smother Borges, sure, but that’s not an excuse – the Cavs need to continue to play with speed and urgency to keep Bekker from holding the ball.

In this exercise, we choose captain Nik Ledgerwood – but it’s job for the Cavs’ midfield as a whole. Don’t let Bekker spread play out the way he did at Tim Hortons Field.

Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson vs. Julian Büscher

Julian Büscher had a shockingly quiet game going forward in Leg 1 – no attempts on target or key passes, and he completed just half of his passes. He was solid defensively, though, as to be expected from the box-to-box midfielder. Thing is, Büscher was rarely settled in Cavalry’s midfield. Chasing the pack, the German was forced to try and gain possession and pass rather than have the ball recycled to him.

Turn to Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson. In the hole, Jonsson squeezed the midfield with some excellent positional play. Keeping Büscher in front of him, the Swede kept him from making any sort of attacking move, something that will, more often than not, lead to a scoring opportunity.

If Büscher breaks from the shackles in Leg 2, Cavalry could move closer to becoming Canadian Premier League Champions.

Marty Thompson is the digital content editor for the Canadian Premier League. His piece has been published with the permission of the CPL.

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CBC | Soccer News

Altidore’s waiting game continues as TFC prepares to face Atlanta in conference finals

The waiting game continues on Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore.

The big man, who missed TFC’s playoff wins over D.C. United and New York City FC with a quad strain, was at training Sunday but went for a solo run with a trainer apart from the rest of the team in the portion of the session open to the media.

Altidore did not train outside Saturday in the wake of a Friday PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection, which is designed to aid in the healing of muscle, ligament and tendon tear.

“He got some work in the gym [Saturday]. He was back out on the field doing work today,” said coach Greg Vanney. “So he’s making strides towards hopefully being available for us on Wednesday.”

Toronto leaves Monday afternoon for Atlanta and Wednesday’s Eastern Conference final against the defending MLS champions. Los Angeles FC hosts the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday in the Western final.

Step by step

Altidore, who scored 11 goals in 22 league appearances this season, did some high-speed running and ball work Sunday on a wet, windy day but still has more steps to take before getting the green light, according to his coach.

“We haven’t put him in front of goal to do a lot of shooting … We’ll start hitting some balls over different distances [Monday], then building into some final prep work on goal hopefully on Tuesday,” said Vanney.

“I know he feels and looks like he’s close,” Vanney added. “And so [we’re at the] final stages now of hopefully getting him ready and having him be a part of the group and play a role.”

Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, who scored both goals in TFC’s 2-1 win in New York, has been pushed up front in Altidore’s absence.

WATCH | Pozuelo leads TFC into conference final: 

Alejandro Pozuelo scored both of Toronto FC’s goals as the Reds beat NYCFC 2-1. 1:40

Centre back Omar Gonzalez, who missed the D.C. United game due to a hamstring issue but made the bench for NYCFC, has returned to full training. Vanney said there were no other injury concerns.

A win on the artificial turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Toronto will be headed to its third championship game in four seasons. TFC lost to Seattle in 2016 on a penalty shootout, avenging the loss the next year by beating the Sounders 2-0.

Atlanta downed Portland 2-0 to lift the trophy last year when Toronto missed the playoffs.

Fourth-seeded Toronto is undefeated in its last 12 league games (6-0-6) and has not lost since Aug. 3 when it was beaten 2-0 at the New York Red Bulls.

Second-seeded Atlanta is unbeaten in its last four league outings (3-0-1), including playoff wins over No. 7 New England and No. 3 Philadelphia. It has lost just once in its last seven league matches (5-1-1) and finished eight points ahead of Toronto in the regular season.

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Bianca Andreescu drops WTA Finals debut to Wimbledon champ Halep

Dominant much of the season against tennis’ elite, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu dropped her second straight match against such an opponent in her opening match at the WTA Finals on Monday as fifth-ranked Simona Halep prevailed 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 in Shenzhen, China.

Andreescu, the world No. 4 ahead of her debut at the season-ending tournament, was coming off a quarter-final loss to Naomi Osaka at the China Open in Beijing earlier this month and sports a 9-2 record versus top-10 players in 2019 and 48-6 overall.

A weary-looking Andreescu,who has won 17 of her last 19 main draw matches, took to the court for the third set and needed to have her lower back assessed by a trainer with Halep holding a 3-2 advantage.

Andreescu closed to within 4-3 on a crosscourt forehand return winner but Halep wore her down with each shot of long rallies, broke Andreescu to go up 5-3 and held on serve to win in two hours 35 minutes.

“It was a very tough match,” Halep said. “I knew that she’s a great player and she’s playing till the end without giving up. I had to fight.”

Andreescu was sidelined for months with a right shoulder problem earlier this season before returning in August to beat Serena Williams at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where the Canadian was hampered by a groin injury. In July 2018, Andreescu dealt with a back issue at the Granby Challenger event in Quebec.

WATCH | Bianca Andreescu outlasted by Simona Halep:

Simona Halep beat Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 in their opening match of the WTA Finals. 0:41

Huge forehand winner

The youngest player in the field in Shenzhen, the 19-year-old Andreescu had a chance to put away Halep in straight sets leading 6-5 in the second set, but brilliant defence by the 28-year-old Romanian and a backhand down the line forced a tiebreaker.

A resilient Andreescu used a huge forehand winner to even the tiebreaker 3-3 after being down 3-0, but Halep’s ability to return several defensive shots was the difference.

Andreescu excelled during the opening set, save for a two-game stretch, as the Mississauga, Ont.-born player also of Romanian descent changed the pace of play while mixing in high balls and drop shot to go with a devastating forehand.

The WTA Finals, which features the top-eight players in the woman’s game, is split into two groups and follows a round-robin format. Andreescu is in the purple group with No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Halep. The red group is comprised of Australia’s Ash Barty, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, Czech Petra Kvitova and Osaka.

The top two in each group advance to the semifinals.

Andreescu is attempting to complete a sensational season with a fourth title following victories at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and U.S. Open in New York, where she defeated 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in early September to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.

The loss to Osaka was Andreescu’s first on the Tour in six months not counting withdrawals and retirements and halted a 17-match win streak that saw the resident of Thornhill, Ont., soar up the WTA rankings. Her current ranking is the best ever by a Canadian woman and she has a chance to top the No. 3 ranking Milos Raonic achieved on the men’s tour.

Andreescu is the first Canadian to play in the WTA Finals since Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

Svitolina extends WTA Finals run

Svitolina, the defending champion, stretched her unbeaten run at the WTA Finals into a new year, beating Pliskova 7-6 (12), 6-4 in her opening match Monday.

Svitolina, the only player in this year’s field who has not won a title this season, was unbeaten in the tournament last year.

After exchanging service breaks in the first set, Svitolina converted her seventh set point. Pliskova also had a chance to take the first set, but she failed to take advantage of a set point at 9-8 in the tiebreaker.

Svitolina then jumped ahead 2-0 in the second set and then broke again for a 4-3 lead.

The victory gives Svitolina a 1-0 record in the Purple Group, while Pliskova is 0-1.

Pliskova, who had won all three of her previous opening matches at the WTA Finals, leads the tour with four titles this season — winning in Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne and Zhengzhou. She also leads the tour with most aces served at 481.

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Forge draws 1st blood against Cavalry in red-card laden finals 1st-leg victory

Leg 1 of the Canadian Premier League Finals was low on goals, but very high on drama and entertainment value.

Both teams finished the game with 10 men, as Forge earned a 1-0 win via Tristan Borges’ first-half goal before 10, 486 fans at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday evening.

WATCH | Forge win leg 1 with Borges’ lone goal:

Tristan Borges scores a great goal off a beautiful move and pass from Christopher Nanco and Forge FC win a wild one against Cavalry FC. 1:57

Cavalry was forced to play a man down after defender Joel Waterman was issued a red card in the 37th minute. Forge also had a man sent off when Borges saw red in the 69th minute.

Forge holds the advantage in the aggregate series, as a draw next week in Calgary will see them win Finals 2019. But Saturday’s victory was costly for Forge, as the expulsion of Borges, the CPL’s top scorer, means he will be suspended for Leg 2.

Carducci keeps it close

Saturday’s contest started with a quick tempo, before quickly settling down as both clubs took a more cautious approach and began to feel each other out. Forge captain Kyle Bekker nearly broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when he fired a thunderbolt of a shot that crashed against the crossbar.

Minutes later, the ball fell to Borges inside the box and as he headed towards the goal, Waterman slid across and handled the ball. The defender was shown a straight red card for denying a clear scoring opportunity (he’ll be suspended for Leg 2), and Cavalry had to play a man short for the remainder of the match.

Borges stepped up to the spot, only to see Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci came up with a fabulous leg save to repel his penalty attempt. The visitors escaped another close call minutes later when Daniel Krutzen’s free kick from 25 yards out hit the crossbar.

Borges’ curler

But the visitors’ good fortune ran out in first-half injury time. Chris Nanco made an exquisite move down the left flank to masterfully pull away from two Cavalry players before feeding Borges, who curled a gorgeous shot from just inside the box past Carducci and into the upper corner. The goal was Borges’ season-leading 13th of the campaign.

The home side poured on the pressure to start the second half, with Carducci coming up with a big save to deny Nanco inside the box, and David Edgar’s rebound attempt smacked the crossbar.

Tensions boiled over in the 69th minute when Borges and Cavs defender Jay Wheeldon crashed into each other while challenging for a 50/50 ball. A small a melee ensued, and Borges was shown a red card as he was judged to have kicked out at Wheeldon.

2nd leg awaits

Forge continued to press for a second card, only to be met by a sturdy Cavalry resistance the rest of the way.

Listed as day-to-day in the buildup before the game, captain Nik Ledgerwood overcame a head knock to start for Cavalry. Forge was missing defenders Dominic Samuel and Bertrand Owundi (both suspended).

Saturday marked the eighth meeting in 2019 between Forge and the Cavs, including their second-round Canadian Championship series.

Leg 2 of Finals 2019 is scheduled for next Saturday at ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. 

WATCH | fist-leg action between Forge FC and Cavalry FC:

Forge FC hosts Cavalry FC in Canadian Premier League Championship Game 1 from Hamilton, Ont. 2:30:43

John Molinaro is the director of content for the Canadian Premier League. His piece has been published with the permission of the CPL.

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Bianca Andreescu courtside for Raptors’ 1st game in Toronto since NBA Finals

Nick Nurse doesn’t think that all the miles his Raptors have travelled during training camp will stop his players from adequately preparing for their NBA title defence.

A whirlwind tour saw the Raptors assemble in Toronto on Sept. 28, then head to Quebec City for five days, before jetting off to Tokyo for a pair of pre-season games and return to Toronto for a lacklustre 105-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday.

“I’m not overly concerned,” Nurse said. “I think you guys can see there are probably eight players for sure who will make the roster, and we’re looking for a couple more who can fill into some roles, and it could be a lot of guys at this point.”

The elite eight Nurse will rely on when the Raptors begin their season with their banner-raising opener against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 22 include Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Norm Powell, Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby and Terence Davis.

WATCH | Boucher, LaVine throw down massive slams:

Canadian Chris Boucher had a big dunk and played well but Zach LaVine torched the Raptors inside and outside to lead the Bulls to a dominant win. 1:13

After this group, Nurse outlined the type of players he wants on his roster.

“For me, it starts with the guy who is going to execute the defensive game plan and then who is going to be a safe pair of hands on offence and who’s not going to be afraid to take the kick-out shot,” the Raptors coach said.

Canadian Chris Boucher remains in the mix. The six-foot-10, 200-pound Montreal native was asked at the beginning of training camp to switch from centre to power forward.

The adjustment hasn’t been easy. But the 26-year-old Boucher has a week to improve.

“It’s a process, trying to figure out how I can change my game,” Boucher said, adding his most significant challenges has been making reads off his teammates and knowing when to set screen.

“I want to fix the little things. Coach has told me to focus on defence, and that’s what I’m trying to focus on the most. I need to rebound more than anything, even though I’m trying to block shots.”

The Raptors, who returned from Japan on Friday evening, rested Siakam, VanVleet, Gasol, Powell and Ibaka against the Bulls. Lowry has been in recovery mode since undergoing off-season surgery on his left thumb. He is expected to increase his workload this week.

As a result of Gasol and Ibaka getting the night off, Boucher was back at centre against Chicago. He scored 11 points but grabbed only a pair of defensive rebounds.

“My big concern with him is can he rebound with the strength and size of NBA guys,” Nurse said. “He let a couple get away from him tonight. The other concern is will he finish because again he can reach around with those long arms in the G-League level and there is nobody to contest him. At this level, there is more size.”

The Bulls hit 18 three-point jumpers, including four apiece from Zach LaVine, Tomas Satoransky and Coby White. LaVine led the Bulls scored 26 points.

Anunoby led Toronto with 15 points, followed by Matt Thomas with 12.

Playing at Scotiabank Arena for the first time since a 106-105 loss against the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Raptors jumped out to a 7-0 lead. But that was about as good as it got for Toronto.

Canadian tennis sensation Bianca Andreescu sat courtside. The U.S. Open champion was presented with a Raptors jersey during a timeout in the second quarter.

Toronto will play its final pre-season game in Brooklyn on Friday before their season opener at home against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 22.

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