NBA and NHL Playoffs continue to give Toronto teams some struggles

Published On April 23, 2018 | By | Sports

Apr 22, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots the ball while being fouled by Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) in the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Capital One Arena. The Wizards won 106-98. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Elvin George

Both the Leafs and Raptors continue to fight for their lives in the 2018 playoffs.

The eastern conference top seed Toronto Raptors started with a commanding 2-0 series lead against the Washington Wizards in the best of seven series. Wizards crawled back to even up the series 2-2 with the series now heading back to Toronto.

Meanwhile the physical Boston Bruins punished the young Leafs early in the series to give them a strong 3-1 lead. Although the Leafs stole game five in Boston to make the series 3-2. The next game is tonight in the Air Canada Centre.

Leafs with some deja vu

Leafs were in the same situation five years ago when they were down 3-2 in their series with Boston. The Leafs won game six but lost game seven.

Only five of the players from the 2013 playoff run are on the current Maple Leafs roster. The Leafs are much younger now than the team five years ago. Eight of the Leafs playing tonight were drafted after the 2013 loss.

“The Bruins top line is too much for the Leafs to handle,” SensCentral Podcast member Brandon Piller said.” Toronto won’t be able to get past the Bruins again.”

The Bruins are the last eastern conference team to win the Stanley Cup other than Pittsburgh Penguins. Boston has missed the playoffs only twice in the last 11 seasons. Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastarnak, and Patrice Bergeron have been on fire all series. The trio have a combined 23 points through the five games. By comparison, the Leafs top three highest point earners throughout the playoffs have a combined 15 points.

“Five current players remain on the Leafs and seven from the Bruins from the 2013 Game 7 Fiasco,” Brandon McCarthy,Story Editor for TSN, said.” The main core is still alive and well.”

Prior to the playoffs, the Leafs broke a franchise record with the most home wins in a single season.

“I could see this series going the distance, and imagine what weight would be lifted off the Leafs shoulders if they prevail and are much more hungry for the Lightning for the second round.”

The Leafs will try to power through the Bruins tonight in Toronto so they can send the series back to Boston for game seven. Puck drop is 7pm ET tonight.

Raptors stunned by Wizards spell

When the Raptors won the first two games of the series, fans began dreaming of a playoff sweep for the first time in franchise history.

Sadly the possibility vanished once Washington took control in game three and then dominated in game four to tie the series 2-2.  Game five is set for 7pm ET tip-off on Wednesday.

Plenty of questions surround the Raptors after back-to-back losses starting with some injury questions about rookie guard Freddie Van Vleet. Wizards have given the team troubles in the past as they swept the Raptors in the playoffs three years ago.

“I am a little skeptical. The Wizards have won eight straight home playoff games after Sunday,” McCarthy said.

The Raptors hold home-court advantage for all of the playoffs until the final round. Similar to the Maple Leafs, the Raptors broke their franchise record for most home wins in a single season this year.

“Plus in the eastern conference semi-finals last year it was the same exact scenario whereby the Celtics owned a 2- 0 series lead and Washington earned a few wins at home,” McCarthy said. “Always be cautious against them because they have two star-studded guards in Beal and Wall. They don’t care they finished in eighth place.”

The best of seven series is now down to a best of three with two games in Toronto. Hopefully, the Raptors use that home court advantage to win the series.

 

 

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