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Celtics Can't Kick Buzzer-Beater Hangover in Sluggish Loss to Raptors – Sports Illustrated

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Three thoughts on Toronto’s series-tying 100-93 Game 4 win over Boston on Saturday … 

The Raptors have life

Early in the seeding games, I had a conversation with Raptors official. Kawhi Leonard is gone, the official told me. But part of him is still here. Among the many things Leonard brought to Toronto was mental toughness, an ability to shake off losses and move on to the next game. It’s how the Raptors erased a 2-0 hole against Milwaukee last season. And it’s how Toronto has evened its second round series with Boston in this one. 

Make no mistake: This one wasn’t pretty. Toronto shot 39.5% from the floor (to Boston’s 44%); the Raps were markedly better from three-point range (38.6%) while the Celtics were downright dreadful (20%) with Jaylen Brown (2-11) the worst offender. 

In the aftermath of Toronto’s buzzer-beating win over Boston in Game 3, I wondered how the Celtics would come out. Not well, it turns out. Brown told me the team never seemed to get into a rhythm; Brad Stevens called his team “not crisp” and noted that players looked like they got down after each missed shot.

Toronto, meanwhile, was in control throughout. “First time all series that happened,” said Nick Nurse. The Raptors liked the looks they were getting from beyond the three-point line in this series; on Saturday, they started to go down. The defense, brilliant for most of the restart, locked in. “We understand that it’s the first to four,” Kyle Lowry said. “All you can do is continue to work…”

Kim Klement – USA Today Sports

Welcome to the playoffs, Pascal Siakam

Siakam’s shooting woes have been among the top stories in the bubble, and early on Siakam (1-4 in the first quarter, 4-11 in the first half) looked like he might be headed for another tough night. Siakam, though, stuck with it. He made a three midway through the third quarter, letting out a scream as he ran towards the bench. He scored 11 points in the third quarter, helping Toronto turn a tie game into an eight-point lead. 

While the attention has been on Siakam’s offense—he still can’t buy many threes, finishing 2-13—his defense has picked up. He has been a primary defender on Brown and Jayson Tatum, who have been less impactful the last two games. He pulled down 11 rebounds in Game 3. He has found ways to make a difference. 

“Sometimes you can get caught up in makes and misses,” Siakam said. “I just have to understand that I have to keep doing other things. That’s something I’m focused on. I’m not worried about makes and misses. I’m worried about impacting the game in all different ways.”

Et tu, Boston?

Through six games, the Celtics were cruising. The offense clicked. The defense looked sturdy. 

In Game 4, it came apart. 

Stevens said he didn’t see any hangover from Game 3; he said he was encouraged by how the team responded after Thursday’s gut wrenching defeat. But Toronto has some momentum now. The Celtics need more from Tatum, who is 2-10 from three in the last two games. They need more from Brown, who fought through foul trouble in Game 4. They need more from Kemba Walker, who was limited to nine shots in 41 minutes. They need to be better in the third quarter, where Boston has been getting battered in lately. Stevens said the team talked about its fourth quarter struggles before the game. In Game 4, they were outscored 32-24. 

Boston is still in this. If not for perhaps the greatest inbounds pass—and a pretty good shot—in recent playoff history, they would be up 3-1. But Toronto, even without Leonard, is championship caliber. And the Raptors aren’t going away. 

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Tonight’s lineup: Zeuch starts – Bluebird Banter

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It looks like there has been a change in starting pitcher for tonight. I thought Matt Shoemaker was to start, but now the Blue Jays are saying T.J. Zeuch gets the start.

I hope there isn’t a injury reason for the switch. Charlie Montoyo is to talk to the media soon so we’ll hear why the change was made.

Bo Bichette and Randal Grichuk both sit today. Joe Panik plays short and Jonathan Davis is in center.

Update:

No injury to Shoemaker:

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Lightning not discouraged after missing first chance to lift Stanley Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The job’s not finished.

The core of this Tampa Bay Lightning team has been chasing the Stanley Cup for years, so what’s another two days between friends, right?

That’s not to discredit the Dallas Stars or pronounce this Final over. It’s merely a reflection of the Lighting’s attitude after having the trophy put back in its case with a 3-2 double-overtime loss on Saturday night.

“We’ve got a plan,” said head coach Jon Cooper. “It’s gotten us this far and we fully believe it’ll get us through the end.”

“They get the goal and we don’t, so it’s not a big deal,” added forward Anthony Cirelli.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

The Lightning were on the verge of a very big deal after Mikhail Sergachev gave them a 2-1 lead before the third period was four minutes old. They nursed it into the second half of the period before Joe Pavelski found a loose puck at the edge of the crease and did what he’s been doing for years.

Still, Tampa was one shot away from a championship and threw everything it had at Anton Khudobin. Cirelli hit a post while Tyler Johnson put one off the knob of Khudobin’s stick.

It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see them pull out oxygen tanks on the Dallas bench during the first overtime period. This was the difficult end of a back-to-back and the Stars were taking on water while leaning heavily on their top-four defencemen — seeing Tampa out-attempt them 25-7 and outshoot them 7-2.

“I thought we played a good enough game to win,” said Lightning forward Ondrej Palat. “I thought in overtime we really tilted the ice, we had a lot of possession, a lot of chances, we just didn’t score on them.

“So yeah, they’re a good team, they battled back.”

The Stars gave it a push in the second overtime and won it on Corey Perry’s goal-mouth scramble at 9:23. A John Klingberg point shot ricocheted off two Tampa players and stopped at the edge of the crease before Perry slid it around Andrei Vasilevskiy.

“They’re a good team at getting pucks to the net,” said Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman. “It’s one of those things, you block a shot and it just lays behind you. We’ve got to be a little bit harder to help Vasy, but yeah, they made a nice play.

“They went hard to the net and they got a puck there and they put it in. That’s the end of it, we’ll look over it and get better for next game.”

They had an excellent chance to break the NHL bubble and finally get their hands on the Cup, but the tape will reveal that this was not Tampa at its best.

The Lightning appeared to be a step off for much of the night and didn’t create the kind of high-danger chances on Khudobin it had while building a 3-1 series lead. They also got just one first-period power play — Khudobin was the only reason they didn’t cash in there — so the goals were tougher to come by.

This was the sort of style Dallas needed to play with its season on the line.

Tampa will find some comfort from the fact it hasn’t dropped consecutive games yet in these playoffs and it lost Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final under similar circumstances before closing out the New York Islanders in the sixth.

With a little rest, and a refreshed attitude, they’ll look to repeat that script on Monday night.

“We’ve felt this feeling before,” said Cooper. “We have felt this sting and then we’ve rebounded. But the big thing is to get some rest here.

“Just in the end you could see — I don’t know, if that game went any longer, I don’t know if there would have been any goals scored.

“I think both teams were pretty tired.”

They’ve been at this for nine weeks now.

For many of the Lightning, this is the 15th playoff series they’ve gone through since 2015 and it’s the closest they’ve been to lifting the Stanley Cup. They managed to keep their minds in small places with the trophy inside Rogers Place on Saturday night, but they couldn’t quite seal the deal.

“I thought we kept it cool,” said Hedman.

The heat will get turned up quickly if they don’t get the next one.

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Kansas State rallies to stun No. 3 Oklahoma – TSN

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NORMAN, Okla. — Skylar Thompson passed for 334 yards and ran for three touchdowns, and Kansas State rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 3 Oklahoma 38-35 on Saturday.

Freshman Deuce Vaughn caught four passes for 129 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Wildcats, who were coming off a season-opening loss to Arkansas State. It was Kansas State’s first-ever road win against a top-three team in the AP poll.

Oklahoma freshman Spencer Rattler passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions.

Kansas State upset Oklahoma 48-41 in Manhattan, Kansas, last year.

Kansas State said earlier in the week it was struggling to have enough players available at all position groups to play the game because of COVID-19.

In the opening moments of the second quarter, Rattler threw into traffic and found Drake Stoops for a 32-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown for the son of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and it gave the Sooners a 14-0 lead.

Thompson’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Chabastin Taylor in the second quarter cut Oklahoma’s lead to 14-7, but the Sooners answered with Marvin Mims’ 9-yard touchdown reception in the final minute of the first half.

Rattler’s 53-yard pass to Stoops led to Seth McGowan’s 5-yard touchdown run and a 35-14 late in the third quarter.

Two short rushing touchdowns by Thompson got the Wildcats back in the game. Kansas State’s Nick Allen blocked Reeves Mundschau’s punt, and the Wildcats took over at the Oklahoma 38. Vaughn’s 38-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ second offensive play and the extra point tied it at 35 with 8:17 to play.

Kansas State’s Blake Lynch hit a 50-yard field goal with 4:32 remaining. Kansas State’s Jahron McPherson intercepted Rattler in the final minute to help close out the win.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas State: The Wildcats didn’t fold when they fell behind and the defense improved in the second half against Rattler.

Oklahoma: The defense fell apart much like it has many times in recent years.

UP NEXT

Kansas State: Hosts Texas Tech on Saturday.

Oklahoma: Travels to Iowa State on Saturday. The Cyclones beat the Sooners three years ago and nearly upset them last year before falling 42-41.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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