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Raptors still in the thick of things in the NBA


I will admit I haven’t been following the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors as closely as I did last year.
Weekends have kept me busy, usually with two or three hockey games to cover, not to mention the odd weekday game, plus other events to cover.
I have watched highlights when I could and I know the Raps have had a good season thus far, though they have slumped of late, winning two of their last six games.
Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Vleet have carried their strong play from last year’s playoff run into this season, Serge Ibaka has continued his strong defence and Kyle Lowry continues to prove he is one of the best guards in the game.
Their recent slump has dropped the defending NBA champs to fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but they are within striking distance of second place, just 1-1/2 games behind Miami and Philadelphia.
The Milwaukee Bucks are the class of the conference, with a record of 24-3, the same as the Western Conference leading Los Angeles Lakers.
But, as the Raps proved last year, a good regular season does not equal playoff success.
The Bucks were the class of the conference last year, as well, only to lose to the Raps in the conference final.
Could the same happen again this year, who knows?
It’s a long season and there is still a lot of basketball to be played.
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Major League Baseball is once again seeing players land huge money contracts.
Anthony Rendon is leaving the World Series champion Washington Nationals for the Anaheim Angels on a seven-year, $245 million deal after a career year saw him finish third in National League Most Valuable Player voting.
Washington ace Stephen Strasburg resigned with the Nats for the same terms Rendon signed in Anaheim.
Of course, Rendon and Strasburg’s deals pale in comparison to the one pitcher Gerritt Cole signed with the New York Yankees.
Coming off a 20-win season where he finished runner-up in the Cy Young Award voting, Cole’s deal with the Yanks is for nine years and $324 million.
These are just a few of the big deals signed so far, but more are on the way.
There are still plenty of more deals that will be made and millions of dollars to be handed out to free agents looking to cash in.
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The TELUS Junior Provincial Championships are just two weeks away and tickets became available last week.
There will be a lot of local talent vying for the provincial crown and it promises to be an exciting six days of action at the Parkland Recreation Complex Curling Rink and Credit Union Place.
Be sure to get your tickets soon.

Doug Zywina