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Raptors’ defence stands tall, limiting Harden, Embiid in win over 76ers –



Down the stretch, in some of the key moments of a tight game, the Toronto Raptors decided to guard the Philadelphia 76ers superstars straight up, no help.

The Raptors were up three in the dying moments on Sunday and wanted to stay home on the Sixers’ long-range threats.

It meant trusting young Raptors playing out of position against some of the best scorers in the NBA.


And it worked. First it was 20-year-old Scottie Barnes playing Philadelphia’s MVP favourite Joel Embiid one-on-one in the post, giving up 70 pounds and seven inches or so. The Sixers centre couldn’t make the Raptors rookie pay with just under two minutes to play.

Then it was Precious Achiuwa — ostensibly the Raptors centre — who squared up Sixers all-star guard James Harden on the perimeter and came up with a stop with 58 seconds on the clock.

So far so good, but things were still ramping up.

A moment later the Raptors did throw a double at Embiid on the perimeter, while leading by three with 27 seconds to play. Gary Trent Jr. made the steal and it looked like the reward was going to be a lay-up and a five-point lead.

No so fast. Trent Jr. missed the lay-up after Harden got his hand on the ball. A foul was called but over-turned upon review – frustrating from a Raptors point of view because Embiid fouled Raptors twice on the put-back after Trent’s miss, calls that can’t be corrected on the initial review.

The Raptors had two more chances to ice things, but Achiuwa and then Barnes missed three of four free throws.

“Certainly, we have to step up and make our free throws,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. His team went 8-of-12 in the fourth quarter.

It all led to one more Raptors defensive stand against a Sixers superstar as Chris Boucher went chest-to-chest with a driving Harden, got the stop and when the Sixers star got called for a flagrant foul for delivering an elbow to the Montrealer’s face while driving, the game was finally over.

Boucher made one of two free throws with 2.7 seconds left for the flagrant. The Raptors kept the ball and Pascal Siakam made his two foul shots to lock down a very impressive 93-88 win over the star-driven Sixers..

“I love it, being in these close games,” said Nurse, his fingernails having survived. “It’s so good for these guys, Scottie and Precious and Gary that have never been in them. They need as much of them as they can.”

The Raptors are showing signs that they will coming out on the right side of them more often than not as they reeled off their sixth straight road win.

The victory improved the Raptors’ record to 40-31 and pulled them to a game behind sixth-place Cleveland and a game-and-a-half behind fifth-place Chicago, where Toronto will be playing on Monday night.

Toronto was without Fred VanVleet, who opted to rest his knee on the first half of the back-to-back with the expectation that he’ll be available in Chicago. They were also missing OG Anunoby (finger) and Malachi Flynn.

But maybe all the Raptors need is their improving defence and a healthy Siakam, who has been Toronto’s best player in 2022 and one of the league’s best too. He sparked the Raptors with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Achiuwa — starting in place of VanVleet — added 21 points and nine rebounds.

But it was their team defensive effort that made the difference as they held the Sixers to 41.1 per cent shooting (7-of-27 from three) and held Embiid and Harden to 11-of-32 shooting while the latter ended up making six turnovers.

“I think we stayed together. We all knew the defensive scheme,” said Boucher, who scored 12 points and grabbed 14 rebounds — including five of the Raptors’ 20 offensive rebounds — off the bench. “We tried to make it hard on Joel Embiid. Obviously they have great shooters, so it’s sometimes hard to do both, but I think we have five guys connected, trying to do the help defence. That always helps. When we play with that energy, we can beat a lot of teams.”

The Raptors’ advantage — in theory — would be to push the pace and get the Sixers in transition: Harden and Embiid aren’t the types to slam the brakes and peel back when an offensive possession gets broken up.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is in the bottom quarter of the NBA in points off turnovers while the Raptors lead the league in deflections and are third in points from turnovers.

Put simply, the Raptors’ key to victory was to hustle. The Raptors ended up taking 20 more shots that Philadelphia — they needed them since they only shot 37.5 per cent from the floor — thanks to their edge in offensive rebounds and turnovers (10-8) and put themselves in position to win against another quality opponent.

The Raptors were successful bottling up Embiid and Harden, but early on it looked like the rest of the Sixers were going to make them pay.

Whatever game plan the Raptors may have dreamed up, none of them involved selling out to run Matisse Thybulle off the three-point line. But sure enough, it was the Sixers’ defensive specialist — who has shot 30.1 per cent from deep this season on a steady diet of wide-open looks as teams tilt their defenses to Embiid and more recently Embiid and Harden — who got Philadelphia rolling early with a pair of threes in the game’s first three minutes.

It was the early story of the game. The Sixers jumped out to a 28-12 lead, but Harden and Embiid were only tangentially involved. In addition to Thybulle’s quick start, Tyrese Maxey — who has emerged as Philly’s third option after the ‘big two’ — took advantage of the operating room available as he scored nine points in the first nine minutes, including a steal and a fast break that gave the Sixers their 16-point lead.

But Toronto began playing to its identity soon after that. A Barnes three and a floater helped change the momentum as Toronto cut the Sixers’ lead to 10 to start the second quarter. At that point, Boucher knocked in a three and scored three times on offensive rebounds to pull Toronto within six.

And then Achiuwa — the 22-year-old second-year big man who has made huge strides since the All-Star break –- showed why has earned Nurse’s trust and the spot start in place of VanVleet as he hit two threes and a floater in close succession. But perhaps equally indicative of his growth was when he grabbed an offensive rebound but rather than force it up in a crowd — a guarantee earlier in the season — he dribbled out and found Trent Jr. who in turn drove the lane and dished to Siakam for a dunk. By the time Barnes was able to get a left hand above the rim to tip in yet another rebound just before the buzzer, Toronto was able to take a 57-54 lead into the half.

Along the way, the Raptors were able to limit the Sixers stars. They played long stretches of zone, always with an eye having help available whenever Harden or Embiid attacked. They sent a second defender at them when needed and between Khem Birch, Achiuwa and Boucher, Nurse generally kept at least two of the Raptors not-so-big trio of bigs on the floor.

For the most part it worked as the Sixers pair were a combined 6-of-18 from the floor and — perhaps just as importantly — combined for only six free-throw attempts in the first half.

But the Raptors have had trouble scoring in the half-court all season and never more than when VanVleet and Anunoby – two of their best three-point shooters – are out. Fortunately Siakam was able to generate some offence — he scored 10 of the Raptors’ 12 points in the third. Outside of Siakam, who was 4-of-7, Toronto shot just 1-of-17 in the period. Toronto went scoreless for five minutes and a 12-0 run by the Sixers allowed them to take a 74-69 lead to start the fourth.

“It’s something I’m trying to get better at, just reading situations and knowing when to attack or when to be more in pass mode or whatever the case might be,” said Siakam.

In the end the Raptors were able to grind out another key win and show that they have a defensive approach that can work against some of the best players in the NBA. It bodes well. The Raptors have 11 games left to lock in their playoff seed but are unquestionably trending in the right direction.

“I know it’s important because we’d really like to make the playoffs. I think our team needs that experience,” said Nurse. “My bigger concern I think all the time is can we go out there and play? Can we go out there and look these really good teams eye to eye and go compete and believe we can win and execute to win? And if we believe we can and compete as hard as we’ve been competing, we’re going to get our share, we’re going to deserve to get our share of wins.”

The star-laden Sixers would have no choice but to agree.

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A Look At Today’s Best Live Dealer Online Casino Games



Online Casino Games

Some of the most popular games you can play at fully licensed online casinos today are live dealer games, such as Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, TV Game Show-themed live dealer games, and Live Dealer Slots. Here is a closer look at some of the best live dealer games from three leading software providers – Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and OnAir Entertainment.

All of these state-of-the-art live dealer games are now available to play in the real money mode at a fully licensed online casino called Lucky Spins Canada, which is free to sign up to and is currently offering all new Canadian players up to 500 FREE SPINS for Play’n GO’s iconic Book of Dead online slot, plus a 100% matching deposit bonus worth up to C$500.

Top 10 Live Dealer Games in the Spotlight

Here are ten of the best live dealer casino games that you must check out. These games have wide betting ranges that cater to low rollers and high rollers alike (and pretty much all other betting ranges in between low rollers and high rollers), and you can often play one round/hand/spin from as little as C$0.10 to C$0.50 up to C$1,000.00 or more.

The top ten live dealer games from Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, OnAir Entertainment,, Ezugi, and eBET that you must check out include the following mixture of live table & card games, live slots, and television game show live dealer games:

  • Live PowerUp Roulette from Pragmatic Play
  • Live Andar Bahar from Ezugi
  • Live Teen Patti from Ezugi
  • Live XXXtreme Lightning Roulette from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Crazy Coin Flip from Evolution Gaming
  • MONOPOLY Live from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Wheel of Fortune from
  • Live Airwave Roulette from OnAir Entertainment
  • Live Black Sports Arena from OnAir Entertainment
  • Bet On Poker Live from

How old do I have to be to play live casino games?

To play live dealer games at online casinos, such as Lucky Spins, you generally need to be at least 18 years old. However, always check because, in some regions where online gambling is legal, it could be 21 or 20 years old.

What devices can I play live dealer games from?

You can play live dealer games from all of the providers mentioned above using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Just make sure that it has decent Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Most games can be launched instantly in your web browser, plus you also generally have the option to download and install a free casino app directly onto your smartphone or tablet and then play from within the secure app.

What to remember when playing for real money

When playing for real money, don’t forget to set deposit limits where possible. Don’t ever chase your losses because it may result in you losing even more money, and don’t gamble just for the sake of it. Try and have fun, and always remember to gamble responsibly. Gambling is meant to be fun, so if you aren’t having fun anymore, it might be a good idea to take a break from gambling for a while.

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Gambling in Ireland vs. Canada



Regulation of Online Gambling in Ontario: The Fight Against Black-Market Operators Continues

Gambling has traditionally played a significant role in Irish society. Naturally, the advancement of technology has changed how Irish gamblers conduct their business. Because of cell phones, placing bets is now simpler than ever (You could check here for a few trustworthy ones). However, Irish individuals must be cognizant of the country’s licensing laws.

Irish gamers can wager on bingo, lotteries, casino games, poker, sports, and more about the regulated and licensed gambling websites, making internet gambling in Ireland a multi-million-dollar business. This is not so dissimilar from the humongous gambling industry in Canada. For the past couple of years, gambling practices have been on the rise in Canada. So in today’s article, we’ll be looking at how gambling has fared in Ireland vs. Canada.



According to the most recent statistics from Ireland from 2022, approximately half of the Irish population (49%) partakes in gambling, while its estimated prevalence for gambling addiction is 0.3%, meaning there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. Since only a small percentage of those with an issue with betting seek treatment, there is a need to try and understand Irish gambling behavior and treatment adoption.


According to industry statistics, Irish gamblers ended up losing over €1.36 billion the year before last, or around €300 on average for every person, ranking them as the fourth-largest gamblers throughout the EU. According to industry researchers H2 Gambling Capital, Ireland places 14th internationally for the biggest median gambling losses, comfortably ahead of the UK but behind Sweden (€325 per adult), Malta (€334), and Finland (€342).

Revenue rose €51.9 million in conventional betting duty revenues and €40.6 million in online betting receipts in 2019, almost twice as much as the corresponding amounts from the preceding year ($28.9 million & €21.7 million, respectively). Sports betting is the most well-liked online form of gambling, comprising over 41% of the industry and bringing in €10 billion in 2019, claims the European Gaming and Betting Association.

Instead of using desktop computers, over 44% of all internet wagers are placed from a phone or tablet. By 2025, it is anticipated that approximately 6 out of 10 online wagers will be placed using mobile devices. Despite representing just 1.1% of the total population, Ireland generates 2.6% of Europe’s online gambling market in terms of revenue, according to the H2 data.




Like many other nations, Canada has a large gambling industry. The majority of gamblers don’t suffer any consequences, but a small percentage will. The number of gambling options in Canada has grown over the years, and new gambling innovations like online poker & sports betting have increased the significance of more thorough and ongoing oversight.

A study used information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to assess gambling and gambling-related issues among adults aged 15 and over. Those who may be at risk of developing a problem with gambling are identified using a Problem Gambling Index. This evaluates problem gambling behavior and the effects of that behavior on the individual or others.

Of the 18.9 million Canadians aged 15 and over, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) reported betting in the previous year, & 1.6% of those gamblers were exposed to a substantial risk of gambling-related issues. Men were more prone than women to file gambling in the previous year across all age categories. Additionally, men were more likely to have a relatively high risk of developing gambling-related issues.

Though they were more prone to developing gambling problems, people in lower social households were less inclined to wager than those of relatively high-earning households.


For instance,


  • 1% of Canadians at significantly higher risk for gambling issues were among the 71.5% of those living in higher-earning households who reported betting in the last year.
  • 8% of people from low-income families gambled in the preceding year, and 2.7% of them were at moderate to high risk for developing gambling addictions.


The likelihood of gambling-related issues rose with the quantity of casino games played.

In the multivariate analyses, the majority of factors, such as engaging in various gambling activities, living single (or separated or divorced), being unmarried, and possessing poor or fair mental well-being, remained independently related to gambling problems.

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Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman



John Herdman, Head Coach of Canada, reacts during a press conference at the Main Media Center on Nov. 30, during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.

Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.

Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”

Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?


Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.

Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?

But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.

Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.

In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.

Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.

A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.

That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.

So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?

This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.

As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.

Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.

Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?

Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.

Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?

Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.

If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.

Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.

So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.

Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.

Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.

A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?

Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.

Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.

At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.


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