Maurizio Sarri has left Chelsea for Juventus after just one year in the Premier League and it is fair to say it was a turbulent spell.

With the fiery Italian in charge, things were never likely to be dull at Chelsea in the 2018-19 season.

Sarri will undoubtedly consider himself to have been a success given what he achieved and the constraints he was under in the transfer market, but there are plenty of fans who will not be upset to see the back of him.

As Sarri prepares to return to Italy, we look at the triumphant highs and disappointing lows of his solitary season in English football.

HIGHS

Europa League success

Given the infamy of the Europa League final in Baku from a logistical perspective, Chelsea's performance and emphatic 4-1 win over Arsenal were effectively a sideshow. But, if one ignores the ticketing farce, location and security concerns preventing Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing, Sarri came out of it very well by masterminding a fine display to win his first major trophy as a coach.

Top-three Premier League finish

Sarri inherited a squad with plenty of issues. Several players were approaching 30 or already there, the midfield options were lacking and his main striker was enduring a difficult run. Chelsea's recruitment in the last couple of years has left a lot of be desired, yet Sarri still managed to ensure the Blues secured a respectable third-place finish and Champions League qualification.

Ending City's unbeaten start

Manchester City did not lose any of their first 15 Premier League games in 2018-19, form that sparked talk of Pep Guardiola's team going the entire season unbeaten. Chelsea ended such suggestions in December, beating City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz, evidence that Sarri had the Blues mixing it with the best of them at times.

 

LOWS

Crushed by City

Things started to get ugly for Chelsea and Sarri after the turn of the year. He looked to be heading for the exit at the start of February when Chelsea were demolished 6-0 away to City. Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and a Sergio Aguero brace had the hosts 4-0 up after 25 minutes and a recovery never arrived. It was third successive away league defeat, following a similarly embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth and a 2-0 loss at Arsenal.

"F*** Sarri-ball"

With the Blues having suffered those heavy defeats not long before, they lost 2-0 at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup on February 18. The much-lauded style of play brought to the club by Sarri became the target, as fans chanted "F*** Sarri-ball" during the match. It was surely a sign that the 60-year-old's days were numbered.

Kepa challenges authority

Chelsea's run to the EFL Cup final arguably helped keep Sarri in the job and their performance against City was certainly more spirited than the drubbing they received from them just two weeks earlier. However, the match was marred by Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted in extra time after appearing to sustain an injury. Sarri played it down after losing on penalties, stating it all came from his misunderstanding of the situation. However, it became the focus at Chelsea for several weeks, particularly given the coach's initial explosive reaction on the touchline.

After weeks of speculation, Maurizio Sarri has finally secured his exit from Chelsea, moving to Serie A champions Juventus on a three-year deal.

Sarri arrived at Stamford Bridge from Napoli ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, apparently set to change the way Chelsea played, installing a more expansive style.

Chelsea supporters never quite took to the Italian, though, and even the Europa League title and a place in next season's Champions League did not appear to improve his standing.

So, will Sarri's sole season in the Premier League ultimately be deemed a success? Omnisport writers Tom Webber and Ben Spratt argue either side.

 

SARRI WAS A SUCCESS - TW

Chelsea appointed Sarri because they wanted a coach capable of instilling a positive playing identity within the team.

There were plenty of times the Blues did not look particularly pleasing on the eye and the fans made their thoughts known with chants of "F*** Sarri-ball".

However, the Italian was only a few months into his tenure when that started and he deserved to be given more time and support to carry out his remit.

A third-place finish in the Premier League, only losing the EFL Cup final to Pep Guardiola's incredible Manchester City and winning the Europa League title represented an impressive return from his debut season at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri's sole year in charge was a success and it would have been great to see how Chelsea fared after a proper pre-season under the Italian, having spent too long wrangling with Napoli over compensation for his services.

He eventually gave Callum Hudson-Odoi more game time and helped Ruben Loftus-Cheek reach a level where he undoubtedly looked like becoming a long-term first-team regular, but it will be up to someone else to help them kick on.

 

SARRI WAS A FAILURE - BS

Chelsea supporters made their feelings on Sarri clear.

And, while results may ultimately have panned out, few could blame those following the Blues for airing their frustrations during some particularly dismal performances away from home in 2019.

Would Sarri, without the departed Eden Hazard, have been able to alter opinions on his style of play next season? It's doubtful.

Given that the Italian was brought in to belatedly oversee a style of play to match the silverware successes of the past 15 years, it is fair to say those dissenting voices deemed the coach a failure in this regard.

There is also a hunger to see some of their academy talents finally given a chance to shine.

Sarri took a long time to show trust in Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek and, even with a looming transfer ban, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham surely would not have received the opportunities they deserve under the former Napoli boss.

In another era, when Chelsea would turn to Jose Mourinho to win and win ugly, Sarri might have been a success. But times are changing at Stamford Bridge and he was the wrong man.

One young Pittsburgh Steelers fan found himself without a date to prom, so he went out on a limb and asked JuJu Smith-Schuster.

To his surprise, the wide receiver said yes.

Anthony Molinaro was dumped by his girlfriend before the big event at Chartiers Valley High School, near Pittsburgh, but Smith-Schuster would not let him go alone.

The two even wore matching green velvet tuxedos.

"Got a DM from him a while back about needing someone to go with, decided why not, had a litty night at his school!" Smith-Schuster posted on his Twitter page.

After posing for pictures, Smith-Schuster was filmed dancing with students as they chanted "f*** AB" in reference to departed star Antonio Brown.

Vincenzo Nibali graciously hailed Richard Carapaz and said the Movistar rider had the Giro d'Italia "90 per cent won" after maintaining an advantage of almost two minutes on the penultimate stage.

Bahrain-Merida's Nibali did his best to make a dent in Carapaz's general classification lead on Saturday's dramatic ride to Croce d'Aune-Monte Avena, but the Ecuadorian held firm in a stage featuring five climbs.

Carapaz will now begin Sunday's final time trial holding a cushion of one minute and 54 seconds over Nibali, with Mikel Landa of Movistar in third.

"I tried to the very end but it was difficult to do much with Carapaz and Landa so strong. The Movistar team was strong too, they had four riders on the front in the finale and there's not much you can do when a team is so strong," Nibali was quoted as saying by cyclingnews.com.

"I tried something but Carapaz responded and so deserved to keep the maglia rosa.

"I was hoping to win the Giro but that won't happen now, Carapaz has it 90 per cent won. I congratulated Carapaz at the finish because I respect his performance.

"I'm not really disappointed with my Giro. I'm on the podium if everything goes well in the time trial. But I've no real regrets, there's nothing much else I could do."

Carapaz said: "I think that Nibali made a nice gesture to congratulate us on our work. It's a gesture to be admired."

Of his healthy lead, he added: "I don't think I will lose that much time. Anything can happen in the last stage. But I think it's OK for now."

Primoz Roglic was handed a 10-second time penalty after benefiting from pushes by two spectators on the final climb, meaning he trails Landa by 23 seconds ahead of the time trial.

Jumbo-Visma sporting director Addy Engels said of the sanction: "I did not see it, but we got a phone call from the president of the jury. If it's that clear on TV, I understand the decision and we have to take the penalty. It's s***, but it's also correct."

"I would say we have two proper football teams in the final. I respect a lot what 'Poch' has done..."

"Full credit to Jurgen Klopp – fantastic manager – the coaching staff and the players – unbelievable players. A great club like Liverpool with all their history…"

"He had a very talented group when he came there and how they've improved together has been very impressive..."

"Jurgen is a very successful manager and I admire him a lot..."

"I'm a 'shiny' person? Oh, 'brilliant'! Thank you! That's nice! You have to say that to 'Poch', he's a nice fellow as well..."

"He's great; he's always happy, he's optimistic, he's a really good example, I think he's spontaneous, he's natural. I like him a lot."

It reads like a script of an advert from one of the Champions League's myriad commercial partners; one of those cringeworthy 30-second snippets of fans of all countries and creeds united in squeaky-clean song and dance all before The Big Game, brought to you by This Company, begins its inoffensive broadcast.

But no. These were the words of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino, 24 hours before the Champions League final, the grandest fixture in club football. Praising contemporaries in sport is hardly unusual, whether it's genuine or part of some mind-game masterplan to befuddle the opponent. This was nothing of the sort, though. This was mutual respect bordering on eulogy, the platitude amplitude cranked up to 11.

And you know what? It was fine.

Liverpool and Tottenham might be about the most satisfying final for the neutral observer in years. You just can't begrudge them their chance to lift the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano, which looked suitably resplendent in the searing Madrid sun on Friday.

Each side fought to escape their group, Tottenham recovering from one win in their first four games to scrape through and Liverpool making up for some wretched away performances to seal progress by beating Napoli. Each impressed in the last 16, dispatching the top two teams in Germany in imperious fashion.

Spurs then knocked out Manchester City, probably the best team in Europe, in an utterly compelling two-legged eight-goal circus act. Liverpool made comparatively light work of Porto, it's true, but their performances were nonetheless worthy of the highest commendation.

And then came those semi-finals. The first-leg misery, the injury worries – Harry Kane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah – and the daunting prospect of trying to shatter the beliefs of two bands of devout Cruyffian disciples. And then Georginio Wijnaldum, Divock Origi and Lucas Moura produced the performances of their lives, and Barcelona and Ajax were left in the dust.

This is the second all-English European final of the week, but this is a long way from that soulless Europa League meeting in Baku. For one thing, there are plenty of fans here. At the UEFA-approved fan zones or in the hip streets of the Malasana district, Liverpool and Spurs shirts are mixing with each other and the locals in general good humour: a song here, a beer or two there, but none of the behaviour to warrant Marca's 'Fear' headline that foretold their arrival.

The aggressive scrutiny on the teams is lesser, too. Pochettino will be welcomed back to north London with open arms regardless of Saturday's result; the same could not necessarily be said of Arsenal's Unai Emery. Maurizio Sarri, in his first season in the job, has got Chelsea back into the Champions League, lost one cup final on penalties and won another brilliantly, and yet looks likely to return to Italy after a year in England of being pilloried by fans for having a set playing style. Would Jurgen Klopp be treated to 'F*** gegenpressing' if Liverpool fall behind to Spurs?

From the supporters to the managers to the teams, this is exactly the final UEFA would have hoped for. As the European Club Association reportedly pursues its European Super League with the incognisant bravado of Great Britain's no-deal Brexiteers, the continent's governing body are being presented with the perfect tonic: its biggest game contested by teams capable of captivating brilliance, led by managers of exemplary skill and manners, backed by fans who are ecstatic just to be here. We're even going to have two team photos before kick-off, with one including squad players not in the starting line-up, because Pochettino asked for it, because of course he did, because they deserve it.

Whether you enjoy the niceties or not, Liverpool, Tottenham and the Champions League have rarely looked in ruder health. Let's enjoy it while we can.

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner insists the club's owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are not seeking to sell the Champions League finalists.

The Reds will compete for what would be the first silverware of the Jurgen Klopp era when they face Tottenham on Saturday in Madrid.

Klopp has been linked with Serie A champions Juventus, rumours he dismissed as "bull****", with Werner also rejecting suggestions the German could leave.

And the Liverpool chairman believes the burgeoning partnership between FSG and Klopp will continue for many years to come.

"We don't really want to discuss his situation publicly, especially so close to the final," Werner told the Liverpool Echo of Klopp's future at Anfield.

“But I think you know that we think the world of him. We have already extended his contract once. All I can say is that it's obviously important that he stays for as long as he likes. We believe that he's committed to Liverpool.

"Our philosophy is rooted in the belief that when there is an atmosphere where people are empowered to work together as a team, great things can happen. Obviously, it starts with Jurgen and his outstanding leadership. That's critical to everything that we've achieved this year."

On claims FSG are seeking a buyer, Werner added: "Every time those rumours come up we bat them down. I hope people now know that we are focused on continuing the progress of this club.

"We have no intention of selling. We have reached a position where I think the club is in the best shape it's been for a very long time. We have always said that our desire is to win silverware and we're hungry to touch that trophy in Madrid."

Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title despite setting a club-record points total, with Manchester City instead retaining their crown.

But City are under investigation over potential Financial Fair Play breaches, although the club have strongly denied any wrongdoing.

"One of the reasons why we were pleased to become involved with Liverpool was that we believed in the importance of Financial Fair Play rules," Werner said.

"I don't know very much about what's going on with the [City] investigations but all I can say is that we are strong advocates of the rules.

"We expect all the clubs in the league and all the clubs in Europe to comply. If they don't comply then there should be punishments."

Ben Stokes' incredible catch in England's Cricket World Cup win over South Africa only came about because he was in the wrong position.

Stokes, who scored 89 with the bat as England set South Africa a target of 312 at The Oval, made an outstanding grab to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo as the tournament hosts cruised to a 104-run victory on Thursday.

Phehlukwayo's firm sweep from an Adil Rashid delivery looked to be heading out for six, but Stokes somehow leapt high and, with his right arm outstretched above his head, took the ball in.

But the all-rounder insists that the catch was due to his panic in realisation that he had ventured too far in from the boundary.

"I had a little bit of a panic on to be honest," said Stokes at the post-match presentation.

"I was a bit further in than I should have been, took a step in and I panicked a bit. But [my right hand] gets the nickname the claw, so luckily it stuck!

"I didn't really know how to react because I shouldn't have been there. It was probably a regulation catch if I was in the right position."

Asked what he was thinking when he realised he had misjudged the shot at first, Stokes told reporters: "I probably said, 'Oh s***' about five times in my head!"

He added: "Even when you do take catches like that, when you know you've started in the wrong position, you know you've made a relatively straightforward catch into a hard one.

"The crowd's reaction behind me as pretty awesome, I just tried to take it in as much as I possibly could. I bowled the next over and Morgs [Eoin Morgan] had to ask me if everything was alright, if my heart-rate had gone down.

"It does get fizzed up when you're involved in something like that."

England captain Eoin Morgan, meanwhile, praised Stokes and Jofra Archer, who starred by taking 3-27 with the ball, for their match-winning displays.

"Extremely impressed. Ben's had a full day out. That catch in the outfield was outstanding. To have a match-winner like that in your side lifts everybody," Morgan said.

"On a slowish pitch, [Archer] bowled fast and accurate, it's outstanding for a young guy just starting his international career. He's taking everything in his stride, he's improving every day. It's very exciting."

South Africa were dealt a blow early on in their chase, when Hashim Amla was forced off after being struck by a vicious Archer bouncer.

The experienced opener eventually returned to the crease, and Proteas captain Faf du Plessis is hopeful that Amla will be fit for South Africa's next fixture against Bangladesh on Sunday.

"He's okay now, when he came off the field he was a bit all over the place, we were a bit worried about him," Du Plessis said.

"He did the test and it looked like everything was right, so hopefully that's a good sign for the next game."

Jurgen Klopp says reports linking him with Juventus are "bull****" and insists he has no interest in leaving Liverpool.

The Serie A champions are hunting for a new boss after parting ways with Massimiliano Allegri.

Lazio's Simone Inzaghi, Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri and free agent Antonio Conte are among the names to have been mentioned in connection with the role.

The Bianconeri board reportedly view Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as ideal - albeit less realistic - options, but the German removed all doubt about his future as he focuses on this weekend's Champions League final.

"Of course it's a league that I like, Italy is a beautiful country, but these rumours about me going to Juventus are bull****," Klopp told Sky Sport Italia.

"There's nothing true about it, I'm not going to leave Liverpool.

"I know Serie A very well, I follow it and I like it but I am going to stay at Liverpool."

Liverpool will hope to be crowned European champions for the sixth time when they meet Premier League rivals Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

The Reds lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in last year's Champions League final.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino admits a call over whether to start Harry Kane in the Champions League final could prove decisive to their hopes of beating Liverpool.

England captain Kane has not featured for Spurs since suffering ankle ligament damage in the first leg of the quarter-final triumph over Manchester City on April 9.

The striker has resumed training and Pochettino hopes he will be fit enough to be involved in Madrid on June 1, along with team-mates Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen.

However, he concedes he is likely to live or die by whatever decision he makes regarding Kane and the starting line-up.

"We are happy," Pochettino said about Kane's fitness, as per the Observer. "Whether to start him is a point we're thinking about a lot. It is a decision that, one way or the other, will be judged after the game.

"If we win: fantastic decision. If we lose: s*** decision, and you are going to kill me.

"We are working that everyone will be available to play and, at the moment, Harry is on course. Harry, Davinson, Harry Winks and Jan – the evolution today is very good. And then it's going to be our decision to see if they will be available from the beginning."

Pochettino was emotional after each of Spurs' dramatic victories over City and Ajax in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, something he says is no surprise to those who know him best.

"My mother said to me, 'You are a llorona' – a person who cries often and a lot," he said. "My mum and my two brothers are different, and my dad is more strong. I am strong but very emotional and I cry.

"Maybe I listen to some music in my car, it translates to some moment in my life and I start to cry. When I arrive home, my wife says, 'What happened?' I say, 'I was listening to some music that translated to a moment 30 years ago in Argentina!' And she will say, 'You are crazy.'"

But Pochettino is acutely aware of the importance of managing the emotion of the occasion when Spurs and Liverpool walk out onto the Wanda Metropolitano pitch.

"What I learned from playing the 1992 Copa Libertadores semi-final and final with Newell's Old Boys was that your emotional state is decisive," he added. "It's not tactics, it's not physicality. It's about how the emotion will be the trigger for your talent, how you manage it."

Golden State Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala may be contemplating retirement.

The 35-year-old missed Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers with a calf injury.

Iguodala has missed time each of the past few years with injuries.

"It just flared up real quick, and we've got a good training staff so they're on top of it. It's just, you've been playing for five long seasons, like long, long seasons so it's bound to come up," Iguodala told reporters on Saturday, via 95.7 The Game.

"It's very rare that you see it, so I feel like it's hard to be realised sometimes.

"My career is almost over, so I don't really care, you know, we've got a tough series ahead… I'm about to be done playing anyway."

Iguodala is coming off a year in which he averaged career lows in points, minutes, field-goal attempts and free-throw attempts.

He has not played a full 82-game season since 2009-10 and has played more than 76 games just once in the regular season over the past five years.

And he is leaving his options open for his future as his contract with Golden State runs out after next season.

"I could sign a one-year deal if I want to," he said. "That's the beauty of sense of self."

He continued: "I felt like I had a good year, even though, like, I didn't take off as many games as in the past, so I played more this year, and then it was explosive minutes too, so I felt really good and hopefully I can continue to do it for however long as I choose."

Iguodala has made an All-Star team, two All-NBA defensive teams, won three titles and was named the Finals MVP in 2014-15.

It should be taken into account too that Iguodala has joked about his retirement before and did so before this year, saying in an interview with TNT that he would be officially retiring after this season.

He followed that up quickly though by saying, "I'm bull****ing".

Dani Alves said he would be willing to bet the Eiffel Tower that Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is still in the French capital next season.

Neymar criticised PSG's younger players following a Coupe de France final loss to Rennes last month and the world's most expensive player continues to be linked with a move back to Spain.

While a return to Barcelona has been suggested, Real Madrid are also considered possible suitors as they look to rebuild after a disappointing campaign.

Kylian Mbappe's comments about wanting "more responsibilities" also cast doubt over Neymar's long-term future in Paris, yet Alves is ready to wager the city's most recognisable landmark that his fellow Brazilian will be staying put.

Asked whether he would be willing to bet a dinner that Neymar would stay, Alves told ESPN: "A dinner is not enough. Should I bet the Eiffel Tower?

"I believe that he will stay with PSG.

"If Madrid calls me, I'd say no. And if it calls me to ask about Neymar, I'd say no as well."

Alves, himself a former Barcelona star, thinks a return to Camp Nou is also unlikely for Neymar.

"I think it's very difficult," he added. "People inside Barca, I think, won't be willing to acknowledge that they need him.

"And that's a problem, you can't go anywhere guided by your ego. You can't let your ego dictate your life.

"Barca has that problem and they won't recognise that they need him and that already drives him away from Barca.

"Which side doesn't need Ney? Everyone needs Ney."

PSG retained the Ligue 1 title this season but failed to win either the Coupe de France or Coupe de la Ligue, while they exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage.

Alves believes it is only natural that such disappointment has left Neymar displeased.

"He is not happy since he didn't get the results he wanted and that brings him unhappiness," he added.

"I would beat the c**p out of him if he feels happy without winning."

The Milwaukee Bucks will not collapse despite their damaging defeat to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, Giannis Antetokounmpo has vowed.

Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points, six assists and six rebounds in the 105-99 reverse on home court, though he went off late on after suffering an ankle injury.

The Bucks took the lead in the series but have now lost three successive matches, with the Raptors 3-2 ahead, and able to secure an NBA Finals place should they win the sixth game on Saturday.

But Antetokounmpo insists the Bucks are still in the fight.

"We're not going to fold," Antetokounmpo told a news conference.

"We're the best team in the league. We're gonna go in, give it everything we got. We can't fold. We're gonna come back to Milwaukee being p*****.

"I just want to win. I think we had a chance to win it, but we didn't. Obviously, I'm p*****. I am not gonna lie to you. We got two more games to go."

Emiliano Sala was not keen on joining Cardiff City from Nantes, a voice message from the striker has revealed.

The Argentinian expressed his concerns over the £15million move to a friend two weeks before he tragically died when the light aircraft he and pilot David Ibbotson were travelling in to Wales crashed on January 21.

L'Equipe obtained the WhatsApp recording and included it in a documentary published on Wednesday.

Sala said: "Last night, I sent a message to Meissa [N'Diaye, Sala's agent]. He called me a few hours later.

"We had discussions and he told me the last night Franck Kita [son of Nantes owner Waldemar] sent him a message to talk, so he called him. They spoke. And, they want to sell me.

"There is an offer from Cardiff today. On their side, they have negotiated to get a lot of money, so they absolutely want me to go there.

"It is true that it is a good contract but from a football perspective it is not interesting for me. They are trying in every way to get me to go there.

"Me, I am not scared to go there, because I have battled throughout my career, so to go there and fight, that does not make me scared. On the contrary.

"But I'm also thinking to myself that Meissa must find me something better between now and the end of the [transfer] window. Meissa has said no to Cardiff because he does not want me to go there.

"He thinks that, in terms of football, in terms of where we are today, we are in a position of strength in every way, in terms of on the pitch, the contract, all of that. But I don't care about that and I do not want that. I don't give a f*** about being in a position of strength.

"It is true that I would like to find something interesting in terms of contractually and also from a football perspective, but sometimes you can't have both."

The clubs wrangled about the payment of the transfer fee in the aftermath of Sala's death. Nantes made a complaint to FIFA as Cardiff stalled on the instalment, with Bluebirds chairman Mehmet Dalman pointing to alleged "anomalies" in the deal.

Nantes president Waldemar Kita, who was played Sala's voice message during the documentary, said he no longer has any interest in receiving payment for the striker.

"The truth is, I don't even want that money, and I may never get it," Kita told L'Equipe.

"I don't want to make money on someone who died tragically. I'm not interested in that."

When asked why he had therefore not brought the issue to a halt, Kita replied: "I am not involved at all in the case. The lawyers are in charge of it."

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet credited the birth of his second child for helping him return to form after the worst shooting slump of his playoff career, as they levelled the Eastern Conference Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks.

VanVleet flew to Illinois on Monday to witness the birth of his son Fred Jr, before hurrying back to Toronto for the Raptors' 120-102 Game 4 victory over the Bucks, which tied the series at 2-2.

The 25-year-old went seven for 44 and three for 25 from three-point range since the start of the Conference semi-finals with the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, in Game 4 he went five for six shooting and nailed all of his three-point attempts as he, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka added 48 points from the bench.

"It makes you tired," VanVleet said of the arrival of his second child. "It gives you a little perspective, I guess, on life.

"I had a lot of time to think. Had to sit at the hospital all day, had a lot of time to think, obviously a plane ride back.

"It just changes the way you're looking at things. You are not so down on yourself about everything."

The bench's performance took the strain off Kawhi Leonard, with Toronto able to level things up despite the former San Antonio Spurs star tallying just 19 points after racking up 36 in their Game 3 win.

"We know we have to be better," VanVleet added. "We see all the stuff. We understand what the narrative has turned into, that it is kind of 'Kawhi Leonard and The Backup Singers.'

"We understand that. Sometimes it has been like that, and there's other stuff that goes into that. There's give and take there. But we have to do the same s*** again in Game 5."

The Raptors are aiming to make the Finals for the first time in franchise history, with defending champions the Golden State Warriors awaiting the winner of the series.

Leonard said of the production his team-mates delivered: "It was big time. Everybody contributed, knocking down shots, playing great defense.

"[I] feel good. Keep going, keep fighting. We have a chance to make history."

Draymond Green thinks the Golden State Warriors will need Kevin Durant to win another championship.

Golden State managed to complete a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals even though Durant was sidelined with a calf strain.

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins also missed the series as he continues to recover from a torn left quadriceps muscle.

But Green is eager for Durant to make his return, saying he made the Warriors unstoppable.

"There's been so much talk about how, 'Oh, they're the Warriors. Before Kevin got there, they were great.' Bull****," Green told ESPN.

"We was damn good. I think we were a very good team who was tough to beat. I think when Kevin came here, he made us unbeatable. When DeMarcus [Cousins] came here, it made people scratch their head even more.

“So, we need those guys. The next series is going to be tough, and I hope and pray that we can get [Durant] back."

Durant has not played since injuring his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the second round.

The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before winning four straight against Portland. Andre Iguodala also missed Game 4 against the Trail Blazers with a leg injury.

"Our goal is obviously to get all three of those guys back," Green said.

"We know we're a good team with who we have, but those guys make us great and almost unbeatable. And we know we need [Durant]."

The Warriors will be playing for their third straight championship and fourth title in five seasons. Their lone finals loss during that stretch came to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in 2015-16. Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder and signed with Golden State that offseason.

Golden State will face the winner of the series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors for the title.

Milwaukee hold a 2-1 lead in that matchup heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

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