TORONTO — The clinching number for the Toronto Raptors is one.
They need to win one of their remaining four games to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference. In the unlikely event of that not happening Authentic Jared Goff Jersey , one loss by the second-place Boston Celtics, who also have four games left, would also wrap up the East.
Toronto could get the job done by defeating the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors (56-22) defeated the undermanned Celtics 96-78 on Wednesday night at the ACC to move three games ahead of Boston in the conference.
Meanwhile, the Pacers (47-32) defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-106 at home Thursday night, led by 28 points from Bojan Bogdanovic. They have won six of seven — including two wins over the Warriors without Steph Curry — and are fifth in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and 1 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I thought it was a big test tonight,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. “I really was looking forward to playing them with their roster tonight, just to see where we were. That’s a really good team. I thought our guys responded well to the challenge.”
Despite being on the verge of clinching home-court advantage in the playoffs, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was trying to keep it in perspective. The victory over Boston followed a loss in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
“We’re not excited, we know we got some other games to go, some other things to get better at; we’re looking at big picture,” Casey said after the game Wednesday. “One game, we still have some things to get better at. I liked our defense, I thought our defensive focus was there, our attention to detail, guys were where they were supposed to be, a few hiccups but a big improvement over (Tuesday) night.
“Again, it’s about competition, it’s about competing at a high level. With a big picture in mind Womens Tyler Eifert Jersey , not just trying to win that one game we’re trying to do something special.”
Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 16 points Wednesday, said the games leading into the playoffs are important.
“What do we have, four games left? Every single one is extremely important because once next weekend starts you know, it’s literally win or go home,” DeRozan said. “It’s no ‘my bads’ or I get the next one, so these four games are critical and us playing extremely hard and having a rhythm and understanding, our confidence has to be at an all-time high going into next week.”
With the victory over the Celtics, the Raptors matched their franchise best for overall wins in a season (56) and wins at home (32).
Toronto holds a 2-1 advantage over the Pacers this season, including a 106-99 victory at Indianapolis on March 15 in the most recent meeting.
DeRozan scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half against Indiana in that game.
The Pacers hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the 76ers (2-1 this year) and Cavaliers (3-1). Both teams have relatively easy schedules remaining, however, so that might not become a factor. The Cavaliers and 76ers do play each other before the season ends.
Indiana has endured a difficult schedule that included visits to Golden State, Sacramento, Los Angeles (against the Clippers) and Denver.
The Pacers will be facing the Raptors on the second half of back-to-back games.
“It’s going to get us bull-tough and battle tested,” Indiana forward Thaddeus Young said. “It’s definitely prepping us for the task at hand, which is going to the playoffs. We’ve been doing a good job of handing it, going out there and staying focused and locked in. This road trip has been tough. … I don’t know who made the schedule, but this is crazy.”
The Pacers have lost eight games in a row at Toronto.ESPN is set to make a major trade this weekend: LeBron for Lucio. Brady for Bastion. Serena for Soldier: 76.
North America’s biggest sports platform is ready to embrace competitive gaming, and it’s wagering that traditional sports fans are Womens Joey Bosa Jersey , too.
The Overwatch League, an esports circuit with teams in three continents, will broadcast its inaugural championship live in prime time on ESPN this Friday, with the Philadelphia Fusion facing the London Spitfire. It will be the first time Disney’s marquee sports channel carries competitive gaming in that slot, and it’s likely to do more over the course of a two-year deal signed with Overwatch this month.
It’s a major achievement for Overwatch, a first-person shooter from Blizzard Entertainment, and the latest indicator that esports are ready to edge into the American mainstream. The industry has converted a number of notable believers in recent years, including Overwatch franchise investors like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
Esports have been a popular pastime elsewhere for decades, most notably in South Korea. But are North American audiences really ready to invest their time and money into watching other people play video games? It’s a billion dollar question, literally – market analyst Newzoo projects the industry will do $1.7 billion in revenue by 2021.
For those who can’t tell a D.Va Bomb from a Whole Hog, here is some of what you should know before video games jump from the PC to prime time.
WHAT ARE ESPORTS?
Video gamers have been competing for digital supremacy dating to Pong and Pac-Man, but competitive gaming these days is eschewing high scores in favor of multiplayer battles. First-person shooters, strategy games and battle royales have become the industry preference, with esports athletes competing either as individuals or teams to eliminate opponents and achieve objectives – think capture the flag, but usually with a twist. Although many gamers enjoy playing on Xbox or Playstation, most competitive esports are played on PCs. League of Legends, DOTA 2, Counter Strike and Overwatch have been the most popular esport titles in recent years.
WHAT IS OVERWATCH?
Overwatch is a first-person shooter released by Blizzard in 2016 with esports in mind. It features teams of six players competing to protect designated zones from enemy capture or safely move payloads across intricate maps. Players can choose from 27 characters – like Lucio Womens DeSean Jackson Jersey , a roller-blading DJ whose music can harm opponents and heal allies, or Bastion, a robotic tank that can turn itself into a devastating sentry gun.
Each game takes roughly 10 minutes, and Overwatch League matches include five games. The first team to win two matches in the Grand Finals will be crowned champion.
WHY ARE ROBERT KRAFT AND JEFF WILPON INTERESTED IN THE OVERWATCH LEAGUE?
Traditional sports investors like Kraft and Wilpon have seen huge financial potential in esports for a while, but both held off on purchasing franchises until springing for Overwatch clubs in 2016. Blizzard convinced them to buy in by re-imagining the esports scene, mostly by giving the Overwatch League a structure familiar to North American sports fans.
Esports circuits in Asia and Europe have generally been club-based, with teams at risk of relegating into lesser leagues. The Overwatch League instead is using permanent city-based franchises – just like the NFL or NBA – but on a global scale. Currently, the league has 12 teams across three continents, and it’s planning expansion for Season Two.
The city-based structure was attractive to sports traditionalists, which is what led Kraft and Wilpon to own franchises in Boston and New York, respectively. Investors also liked the league’s generous revenue sharing system.
ARE ESPORTS ACTUALLY SPORTS?
It depends who you ask, and frankly, it’s not clear that it matters.
”It’s a good semantics argument,” Philadelphia Fusion president Tucker Roberts said. ”Honestly, yes.”
Video games do require physical skill. Even across the Overwatch League, there’s a spectrum of natural abilities, with some players boasting better reactions and coordination. Overwatch is also heavy on teamwork and strategy. People in the industry like to compare esports to darts, billiards or chess.
”There’s a difference between a sport being like, the most athletic sport Authentic Patrick Mahomes Jersey , sure,” Roberts said. ”But I think the bigger question isn’t the semantics of whether they’re a sport. It’s about, what does it mean to be a competition and how high are the stakes of the competition? I think the players on our team, I know, work harder than any athlete I’ve ever met.”
For the industry, the argument only matters insofar as it affects visibility. If traditional sports giants like ESPN are on board, who cares what you call them?
WHY DOES ESPN WANT IN?
For one, ESPN’s definition of sports can get flimsy. The network has showcased events like the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the World Series of Poker and the Drum Corps International championships. ESPN has also aired soccer and football video game competitions in the past, just never live in prime time.
There’s good reason to think people will tune in. While video game viewing might be a novel concept domestically, it’s quite common in some other markets. For instance, South Korea has entire television networks dedicated to esports, and gaming events there routinely draw tens of thousands of attendees. Korean esports stars live lavish, celebrity lifestyles, with top players achieving Authentic Womens Josh Sweat Jersey