2019 NBA Finals - Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors (Friday 11am AEST)
The Toronto Raptors are in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history after overcoming a two-game deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in six games of the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, they face an almighty task in attempting to dethrone the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors when the best-of-seven NBA championship series commences Friday morning in Toronto.
Evoking memories of Dirk Nowitzki when he led the Dallas Mavericks to the 2010/2011 NBA title over the Miami Heat, Toronto's Kawhi Leonard has single-handedly engineered the Raptors' pursuit of their maiden championship. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP has averaged just over 31 points per game along with almost nine rebounds and four assists throughout the playoffs.
Leonard will need assistance from franchise stalwart Kyle Lowry, the much-improved Pascal Siakam, recently acquired centre Marc Gasol and the unheralded Fred VanVleet, who caught fire beyond the arc in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even though Kevin Durant was absent during the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors swept the Portland Trail Blazers in four games behind the outstanding play of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. However, the Warriors did trail by double digits in three of those four wins, so the series victory wasn't as comprehensive as the scoreline would indicate.
Game 1 presents a great opportunity for Toronto to gain the ascendancy in this series. Durant is still absent for the Warriors and even though Curry and Thompson provide nightmares for any defender, Kawhi Leonard will pose similar matchup headaches for the Warriors particularly when Draymond Green, Golden State's best defender, guards Leonard on the perimeter.
If the Raptors want to truly believe they can claim this season's NBA title, they must triumph in the opening game at home.
2019 UEFA Champions League Final - Tottenham vs. Liverpool (Sunday 5am AEST)
Liverpool Perspective - Andrew Georgiou
I am a die-hard Liverpool fan and won't hear of any talk about Tottenham winning this Sunday morning's UEFA Champions League Final.
One of the prime reasons Liverpool will win is they are vastly superior to the team that faced Real Madrid in last year's final. On that occasion, they were going up against the two-time defending champions and fell 3-1. Realistically, I and many Reds supporters, didn't expect them to get that far to begin with.
To emphasise their improvement from 12 months ago, Liverpool finished 22 points better off on the EPL table this campaign and lost just once (to Manchester City). Last season, it was all about the 'Fab Three' in Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
This season, the midfield and defence has chipped in for more than their share of goals. Alisson Becker has been secure between the sticks, while Virgil Van Dyk has played a full season and is a true leader in defence.
Experience also must count for something with many of the Reds squad involved in the defeat last season. Manager Jurgen Klopp will be hoping it's a case of third time lucky in the UEFA Champions League Final having seen Borussia Dortmund finish runners-up in 2013.
Liverpool will fancy themselves against Tottenham, who have only beaten them once in their past 14 clashes. That dominance, combined with last season's loss to Real Madrid, is why Liverpool will be crowned UEFA Champions League winners for the sixth time.
Tottenham Perspective - Trent Langskaill
Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League Final? It still feels like a dream, and hopefully, one more chapter is written in the fairytale on Sunday morning in Madrid.
Tottenham barely made it out of the group stage, and they can thank Lucas Moura for progressing after his 85th minute goal against Barcelona in the Camp Nou on Matchday 6.
After defeating Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate in the round-of-16, three goals from South Korean star Son Heung-Min, and Video Assistant Referee intervention in their quarter-final against Manchester City, saw Spurs advance to the last four.
Just like Liverpool, Tottenham overcame tremendous odds to reach the final after falling 3-0 behind on aggregate against Ajax in their semifinal. Luckily for Spurs fans, Lucas Moura etched his name into Tottenham folklore with three second-half goals; the last of them scored in the dying stages of stopping time. Que delirium for Tottenham fans worldwide.
Now they face a familiar foe in Liverpool, who they have only defeated once in their last 13 EPL meetings (four draws as well). However, Tottenham will be facing a Liverpool side still heartbroken from finishing second to Manchester City in the title race.
Tottenham focused on the UEFA Champions League once their faint title hopes were extinguished, and despite opportunities in the quarter- and semifinals, Tottenham did not succumb to the 'Spursy' way. Son and Moura have been outstanding, and there is the possibility of striker Harry Kane returning from an injury layoff.
It's time for Tottenham to shed their 'chokers' tag.