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Basketball

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Leafs clinched a playoff spot

April 29, 2021
Source: Frank Gunn/CP
Source: Frank Gunn/CP

🏒NHL: The NHL postseason is just around the corner, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are the first through the gate. The Leafs clinched a playoff spot last night with their 4–1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, who are battling the Calgary Flames for fourth place — aka the final playoff spot. Odds we get a new Justin Bieber song for the postseason?

🏀NBA: The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, have all but kissed the playoffs goodbye. They still have 10 games remaining, but given seven of those are against some of the Western Conference’s top teams, things aren’t looking great. They’ll try their best against the Denver Nuggets tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

🏉Rugby: The Canadian women's rugby sevens team is without a head coach. The team filed a complaint against the coaching staff in January, citing harassment and abuse, and though Rugby Canada found no wrongdoing (um, excuse us!?), coach John Tait stepped down anyway. Don’t let the door hit ya!

⚾️ MLB: George Springer made his highly anticipated debut for the Toronto Blue Jays, and it was so great to see him dancing in the outfield that we’ll just totally ignore the fact that they lost 8–2 to the Washington Nationals. Let’s call it growing pains and hope for better when the Jays take on the Atlanta Braves tomorrow at 7:07 p.m. ET.

🎾🏀🏒🏆

Let's get down to business

April 29, 2021
Source: Rena Schild/Shutterstock
Source: Rena Schild/Shutterstock

🎾Naomi Osaka: The four-time grand slam champion is expanding her empire. Osaka announced yesterday that she’s collaborating with Frankies Bikinis on a brand new bathing suit line set to launch in May, and she is also launching a new SPF-loaded skincare line for melanated skin tones. #StayGolden

🐊Gatorade: Sports drink companies are picking up what we've been laying down for years: Bet. On. Women. Gatorade recently created a (very stacked) women’s advisory board to help deepen their connection with female athletes, while also holding them accountable in delivering against their guiding pillars. HYFR.

🏀NBA: TIME revealed their first-ever TIME100 list of the most influential companies on Tuesday, and the NBA was named as the top “Leaders” brand, thanks to their global growth. Eight sports-related brands made the list, but only one other sports league was featured: the English Premier League, highlighted for its exemplary broadcasting rights. Jolly good!

🏒NHL: They might not be NBA-level yet, but the NHL is working on growth, too, starting with broadcasting. After 16 years, they’ve cut ties with NBC to triple their revenue in a new seven-year deal with Turner Sports, and have already signed a deal with ESPN. It’ll mark the first time since 1999 that the NHL has two American broadcast partners. Double rainbow.

🏀🎾⛸️

CanWNT’s Olympic opponents were announced yesterday

April 22, 2021
Source: Francisco Seco/Canadian Press
Source: Francisco Seco/Canadian Press

⚽️Soccer: CanWNT’s Olympic opponents were announced yesterday, and to say we’re fired up is an understatement. Team Canada will face host nation Japan, newcomers Chile and the amalgamated Britain (which features players from all U.K. nations). Should the world No. 8 emerge from the group stage, we could see a Canada-USA quarter or semifinal. Fingers crossed.

🏀Basketball: The Toronto Raptors are on a winning streak. They notched their fourth W in a row last night, with a 114–103 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The Raps’ only recent loss came from $25,000 in fines over the weekend for “failing to comply with league policies governing player rest and injury reporting.” Oops.

🎾Tennis: The clay court season is underway (French Open starts next month!) and it's already proving fruitful for the Canadians. Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are set to face each other (bummer) in today’s third round of the Barcelona Open. Follow along here.

Figure skating: Retiring at 36 just isn’t for everyone. Yesterday, Olympic medalist Eric Radford announced that he’s coming out of retirement to make a last-minute push for an Olympic spot with new partner Vanessa James, a world medallist who previously competed for France. The news was very well-received...except by Radford’s former partner Meagan Duhamel. Awkward.

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We The North

April 19, 2021
Source: Toronto Raptors/Twitter
Source: Toronto Raptors/Twitter

🏀NBA: After last night’s 112–106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Toronto Raptors jumped up to 10th in the Eastern Conference, making the postseason look possible. With just 14 games left to go, the injury-riddled Raps are in a play-in tournament spot...for now. 

🏒NHL: After dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, the Vancouver Canucks played their first game in almost four weeks last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And for a team that only restarted practicing less than a week ago, they more than held their own, winning 3–2 in overtime. Practice schmactice.

⚾️MLB: After losing three of their last four to the Kansas City Royals, the Toronto Blue Jays are rocking a 7-9 record. Unfortunately, that record isn’t likely to improve as they head into a two-game series against the league’s best Boston Red Sox tomorrow at 7:10 p.m. ET.

🎾Tennis: On a brighter note, Leylah Annie Fernandez filled big shoes in Bianca Andreescu’s absence, leading Team Canada to a win over Serbia and advance to tennis’ top international team tournament: the 2022 Billie Jean King (BJK) Cup (previously known as the Fed Cup) qualifiers

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The GIST's Quick Hits (April 19, 2021)

April 19, 2021
Source: Marco Garcia/Associated Press
Source: Marco Garcia/Associated Press

⛳️Golf: Lydia Ko’s drought ended this weekend. The former world No. 1 won her first LPGA event since April 2018 — the Lotte Championship in Hawaii — and she did it in style. The New Zealander set a new tournament record with a 28-under par score, seven strokes ahead of the four runners-up. 

🏀Basketball: Is it WNBA time yet? The draft is over (and what a draft it was!), the jerseys are ready, and Seattle Storm superstar Breanna Stewart is already in midseason form. Stewart spent her offseason playing in the Euroleague, and like the star she is, won the championship and the Final Four MVP title. Naturally. 

😷COVID-19: This virus isn’t going anywhere fast. The MLB recorded six new cases last week, the NHL postponed three Colorado Avalanche games, and the LA Lakers canceled their trip to the White House. Meanwhile, more than half of all NFL teams decided to skip voluntary offseason workouts (set to start today) due to lacking safety protocols. Uh yeah, good call.