14 Jan
2020

World Sanctified Cathedral, Foreign National in “Land Dispute”

first_imgA scene of the students protest on Wednesday at Word Sanctified High School.A long standing land dispute between the leadership of the World Sanctified Cathedral facilities and a Lebanese national took a dramatic turn on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 when students of the World Sanctified High School (WSHS) staged a “peaceful protest” demanding authorities of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) to re-enforce the zoning law.The properties in question are located in Congo Town, opposite the newly constructed Ministerial Complex.According to the students, who said they are being prevented from accessing their school facilities, the enforcement of the zoning law will allow the reopening of an alley providing free passage to the church that is hosting the school.The alley is the only access the students, parents and the churchgoers use to enter the Word Sanctified facility, but it has been blocked reportedly by one George Nheme, a Lebanese businessman.While Nheme is yet to the speak to the issue, the ongoing construction in the alley has continued without let and has effectively prevented the passage of students and other churchgoers from accessing their facility.The facility includes the Word Sanctified Cathedral of Faith and a school situated just behind the JAC car depot, adjacent to the Old Susan Berry Compound, opposite the newly constructed ministerial complex.Though the students’ protest was ‘peaceful,’ they have resolved to mount the pressure or else the school will not resume any academic activity for the rest of the school year, a development likely to create serious problems for 12th graders that are expected to sit the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in May.Abraham Daryours, the student council president, said their protest was intended to create public  awareness about the several challenges they face, owing to the ongoing construction that is blocking easy passage to the school.Student Daryours said after government placed stop orders on the construction in alley, they were informed early Wednesday morning to use the road from the swamp to the school which will be very impassable during the rainy season.He called on the government to quickly rescue the institution, because if the building is constructed in the alley, students will not have access to the campus, a situation which may not augur well for those expected to sit the WASSCE.Blessing Keita, a female secretary to the student council government, said it is unfortunate for the school to be engaged in land dispute with a foreign national, whose intention is to block the access road leading to the campus without government’s timely intervention.Student Keita said when the construction first started, few students and the school administration engaged authorities at the MoPW, but the ministry placed a stop order on the project. “It was surprising to see that the contractors are building a fence to block the road allowing easy passage to the school.She said closing the alley will deny them access to education, which will prepare them for the future.World Sanctified Bible Cathedral Bishop, J. Maxwell Seh, said there are Deeds that showed the construction site in question is an alley on public property.Bishop Seh said the land fight began in 2011, when the MPW sent a zoning team that established  the site as an alley, noting that the ministry placed an X mark on the building to signify a halt to further construction.He said the Word Sanctified Cathedral has several other facilities, which are now being closed, because of a fence constructed to protect adjacent properties from ‘intruders.’“There is no other way leading to the church premises that contain a daycare and high school, a bible school, reception hall, pastors’ quarters and a large cathedral for worship services,” Bishop Seh said.He said the fence in question is an “embarrassment to our existence as a church, and school.”“The alley is from the Tubman Boulevard, which is just a block away from the church fence. It  should be opened, or the one directly behind the one acre of land adjacent to the Susan Berry property from the football field should be opened to give us access to our church compound,” Bishop Seh declared.He said on previous occasions, when the situation was unfolding, the Word Sanctified Ministries International wrote a letter of complaint to Public Works Minister, Mobutu Nyepan, seeking his kind intervention in an “unjust and embarrassing situation that the institution was at present facing.”A copy of a letter from the ministry obtained by this newspaper indicates that the Minister had instructed the director of Zoning to probe the impasse and report back to his office.But while the probe is yet pending, the construction work has continued up to Wednesday, April 17, 2019.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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30 Nov
2019

Schooling slams critics after SEA Games golden double

first_imgMOST READ Read Next Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension View comments LIST: Class, gov’t work suspensions during 30th SEA Gamescenter_img In the 100m freestyle, he was pushed all the way by Vietnam’s Hoang Quy Phuoc before winning in 48.93, outside the SEA Games record he set two years ago in Singapore.In the relay, he pulled away in the last leg to help Singapore to win by more than six seconds, but their time didn’t beat the tournament record they set in their home pool in 2015. SEA Games: PH’s Alisson Perticheto tops ice skating short program “They can say whatever they want,” Schooling shot back, when asked about the criticism of his performances which has been circulating online.“My goal is to come here and help the team as best as I can, win gold medals. That’s all I care about at this meet. You can’t always set best times, it’s fine. FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“It’s all about me trying to help the team as best as I can and me trying to win as many individual events as I can.”Schooling, who won 100m butterfly bronze at last month’s world championships, just a year after stunning Michael Phelps to claim the Olympic title, hasn’t tested his personal bests this week. LATEST STORIES Singapore’s Joseph Schooling reacts after winning the men’s swimming 100m freestyle final event of the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) at the National Aquatics centre in Kuala Lumpur on August 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANAOlympic butterfly champion Joseph Schooling rounded on critics who say he’s swimming too slowly after he grabbed his fourth and fifth gold medals of the Southeast Games on Thursday.Schooling said detractors could say what they liked as he won the 100m freestyle and anchored Singapore’s 4x200m freestyle relay victory to near his target of six gold medals in Kuala Lumpur.ADVERTISEMENT Home-grown sports here to stay, say SEA Games chiefs Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games PLAY LIST 03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Gameslast_img read more

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30 Nov
2019

Pacio’s road back to title shot starts vs compatriot Doliguez

first_imgPhoto from ONE ChampionshipJoshua Pacio was just 20-years-old when he faced Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE world strawweight title, and even though he lost the bout the diminutive striker remains hell-bent on securing another shot at the gold.Standing in his way though is the battle-hardened Roy Doliguez.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Irving’s big 2nd half leads Celtics past Thunder 101-94 ONE CEO believes Joshua Pacio won the fight PLAY LIST 00:52ONE CEO believes Joshua Pacio won the fight00:50Trending Articles04:36Joshua Pacio is the new ONE Strawweight world champion01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC MOST READ Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion The 35-year-old Doliguez amassed an 18-19-9 record during his days as a professional boxer and is 7-4 in his MMA career.“Obviously, Roy Doliguez has a ton of experience in the ring and cage,” said Pacio (9-2). “He is strong and very fierce. I will do my best and really show what I have.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I will put my best foot forward because I have trained very hard for this fight.”Pacio will take on Doliguez in the ONE: Legends of the World card on Friday Nov. 11 at Mall of Asia Arena.center_img Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Pacio also looks to erase his painful loss to Hayato Suzuki back in August at Cotai Arena in Macau.“That’s the hard part of losing because I have to start over again. A win over Hayato Suzuki could have given me a rematch for the belt, but it is what it is. I just have to move on and work my way up the rankings once more,” said Pacio. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort View comments LATEST STORIES CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPAlast_img read more

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28 Nov
2019

Countdown for CWG begins, security cover in place

first_imgFrom helicopters to snipers and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), the national capital will witness unprecedented security arrangements for any sports event ever in the country as the 19th Commonwealth Games starts rolling out on Sunday.A policeman checks the bags of a tourist at the entrance of the Jama Masjid ahead of CWG.Over 100,000 security personnel including gun-toting commandos have being deployed to thwart any threat to the sporting extravaganza.Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib, who had recently taken a round of the Games Village had said, “Security is very tight and even I had trouble getting in.”While Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal is the overall in charge of the security, the Home Ministry keeps a close tab on all arrangements with Home Minister P Chidambaram taking a keen interest.Defence helicopters with commandos will do an aerial recce of the Games Village and stadiums at regular intervals.The helicopters will receive additional support from three Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which will also be pressed into service to carry out surveillance and keep vigil at regular intervals.According to various security agency sources, security personnel deployed for the Games include about 175 paramilitary companies (about 18,000 personnel) including 3,000 commandos, 100 anti-sabotage teams, 200 specially trained dogs and 15 bomb disposal squads..Moreover, sources said about 150 personnel of the Delhi Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) have been trained by the Indian Air Force and the NSG to shoot down suspicious manned or unmanned “flying objects”.Not to forget the Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear (CBRN) teams of the NDRF and the Army being deployed as an extra caution. Besides the Army has also been put on standby, the sources said.advertisementWhile there is no intelligence input to pinpoint any specific threat, one cannot take any chances, they said.”We work not just based on specific inputs but also on threat perception. The focus of both domestic and international media is on the Games and any small incident will get lot of publicity,” a source said.Helping out the security personnel are a slew of gadgets that have been bought for the Games including baggage and car scanners, pass readers, integrated CCTV cameras and others.An integrated communication room has been set up at the Police Headquarters here, which gives round-the-clock access to all venues through the CCTV network.Security has also been beefed up in tourist hot spots also. From airport to the Metro link and malls, security has been tightened to ensure that no untoward incident takes place.Bunkers have been set up at many spots in the national capital. Besides the paramilitary forces, who are assisting the Delhi Police, personnel of other state police has also been roped in including those from Maharashtra and Haryana.”Such large security arrangements have never been put in place for any sports event. Months of planning and meetings have preceded the security cover that you see,” a senior police official said.The Home Ministry in a statement said, “Adequate security arrangements have been put in place in order to provide security to the sportspersons, officials, spectators, invitees, volunteers and workforce as well as to the entire city of Delhi.”CWG: Guidelines issued for spectatorsThe Home Ministry on Saturday said that adequate security arrangements has been put in place for the Commonwealth Games and issued a set of guidelines for spectators just hours ahead of the Opening Ceremony.”Adequate security arrangements have been put in place in order to provide security to the sportspersons, officials, spectators, invitees, volunteers and workforce as well as to the entire city of Delhi,” the Ministry said in a statement.It said that along with the tickets, the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games has circulated Do’s and Don’ts for ticket-holders.”While reiterating those Do’s and Don’ts, all those who will visit the Games venues should also observe the Guidelines,” it said.It asked the spectators to plan in advance taking into account the possible traffic in order to reach the venue on time. The guidelines said one should be prepared to stand in queue.”You should carry your ticket or accreditation card (together with the ticket) without fail. No one will be admitted without a ticket or an accreditation card (together with the ticket).”Flap Barriers and RF readers have been installed to ‘read’ the ticket and the accreditation card. If the reading shows the ticket or accreditation card as ‘invalid’, a second attempt will be made, and if the second attempt too shows the ticket or the accreditation card as ‘invalid’, the person will not be admitted,” the statement said.advertisementEvery person will be frisked and checked. The guidelines said it is possible that the flap barrier or the RF reader may fail sometimes, for a few minutes, owing to technological glitches.In such a case, the security personnel will do a thorough manual check of the person, the ticket and the accreditation card and one must be prepared to subject themselves to the manual check. In addition, every person will be frisked and checked.With regard to parking, the guidelines said only a few vehicles or cars with authorised ‘vehicle access passes’ will be allowed to go up to the designated points in the games venues.”If you are travelling by a car with an authorised ‘vehicle access pass’, you will be required to alight at a designated point. You must walk the remaining distance to the entry gates.”It said visitors who travel by vehicles which do not have a ‘vehicle access pass’ may use the Park and Ride or the Park and Walk schemes.The Ministry also requested asked citizens to use public transport as far as possible.”The Do’s and Dont’s and these ‘Guidelines’ will apply to every visitor and there will be no relaxation and no exception will be made in any case. All are requested to cooperate,” it said.- With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

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28 Oct
2019

10 months agoEx-Chelsea striker Cascarino backing Arnautovic move

first_imgEx-Chelsea striker Cascarino backing Arnautovic moveby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino says they should move for West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic.Cascarino has even compared the charismatic West Ham star to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.“You know the one player I’d really want to take? Arnautovic – I’d take him in a heartbeat,” Cascarino said. “I think he’d fit perfectly into Chelsea.“The thing with Arnautovic – he reminds me of that Eric Cantona mindset. He thinks he’s good enough to be up there at the top table, and he is.“He was dreadful at times last year but there’s a real player in there and he needs a challenge and maybe the challenge is West Ham?” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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27 Oct
2019

In Photos: Everything You Need To Know About Jen Lada, ESPN’s New Colin Cowherd Show Contributor

first_imgJen Lada speaking on ESPN.This summer, there will be a new face (and voice) on Colin Cowherd’s radio show on ESPN – Jen Lada. Lada, who is leaving Comcast Sports Net in Chicago to take the new gig, will be featured as a regular contributor on the show. There are also rumors that she’ll be featured on SportsCenter and a number of other programs on the network. Lada, now 34 years old, announced that she’d be leaving Comcast Sports Net in June, and she’s set to start at the Worldwide Leader in August.Thank you @CSNChicago for taking a chance on me, for trusting me to represent you well & for teaching me every day. pic.twitter.com/DSkk9FJzfa— Jen Lada (@JenLada) June 26, 2015How did she get her career started? Where is she from? And is she single? We’ve got those answers and more, along with a few photos of the rising star.In Photos: Everything You Need To Know About Jen Lada >>>Pages: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7last_img read more

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13 Oct
2019

Alberta monitors makes contingency plans on road clearing in UK firm bankruptcy

first_imgEDMONTON – Alberta’s transportation minister says they are making contingency plans to clear and maintain roads as they monitor the financial fallout of a multinational United Kingdom construction company.Brian Mason says for now they believe the bankruptcy of Carillion PLC won’t affect the operations of its Canadian subsidiary.Carillion Canada maintains more than 40 per cent of Alberta’s highways.It also has operations in Ontario, including the renovations of Toronto’s Union Station.Mason said the province privatized road maintenance services under the previous Progressive Conservative government.He says the government is reviewing road maintenance, but said for now there’s no plan to move away from the privatized model.“We’ve certainly looked at the various options (but) I don’t think that that’s a direction that we’re going to be going right now,” Mason said Tuesday.A spokesman for Carillion Canada has said it’s business as usual in Canada despite the parent company’s collapse on Monday. Cody Johnstone said Carillion Canada is not in liquidation and its 6,000 employees in Canada continue to be paid, along with its subcontractors and suppliers.The British construction giant went into compulsory liquidation after weekend talks with creditors failed to get the short-term financing it needed to continue operating.last_img read more

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29 Sep
2019

Will Buyout Season Help The Cavs And Warriors

Related: Hot Takedown It’s buyout season in the NBA, meaning that washed-up, out-of-favor or otherwise disgruntled veterans have begun to make their way to contenders. Specifically, Deron Williams and Jose Calderon have (or will soon have) new teams. Williams appears to be headed to Cleveland, where he’d become the latest in a long line of faded stars and aged role players to team up with LeBron, while Calderon seems likely to wind up in Golden State.Neither move would likely change how deep Cleveland or Golden State goes in the playoffs, but both players could fill key roles for the defending finalists.Deron WilliamsWilliams, who has already cleared waivers and has reportedly informed the Cavs that he’ll sign with them, has had a rough year in Dallas, being displaced in the rotation by Seth Curry, Devin Harris and Yogi Ferrell. He’s averaging 13.1 points and 6.9 assists in 29.3 minutes on the season but has seen his role cut considerably since January. But even though Williams’s overall stats remain down and he clearly isn’t the player he was earlier in his career, there’s a chance that he’ll fill the specific needs of the Cavs.LeBron James has publicly called for Cleveland to add another point guard to its roster after the departure of Matthew Dellavedova to restricted free agency, and the stats bear out the claim: The Cavaliers have only three players with an assist rate over 10 percent:1Basketball Reference.com’s assist rate is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor. LeBron (41.9), Kyrie Irving (30), and 21-year-old backup point guard Kay Felder. This season, Williams has a 40 percent assist rate, which may not be the best gauge of point guard play on its own but could be a good indicator that he can help the Cavs.While the Cleveland offense is known for ball movement and numerous 3-point shooters, it also relies on having a player initiate the offense using ball screens and drives. That’s what draws the defense’s attention away from the other, off-ball actions that spring Kyle Korver or Richard Jefferson open. Williams should help to keep those skills on the floor when James and Irving take a rest. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Williams scores 89.9 points per 100 possessions as a pick-and-roll ball handler (this is fairly good) and outperforms Felder in nearly every scoring category.Williams obviously won’t solve all of the Cavs’ problems — for that, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith will need to return healthy and ready for the playoff run, and Andrew Bogut, who has secured his release from the Philadelphia 76ers and is expected to sign in Cleveland, will have to help hold down the fort until they return. But if Williams can do even a passable job at alleviating the playmaking deficiency that’s forced James into long minutes, he may prove just as crucial as either of those players.Jose CalderonCalderon was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers and is reportedly leaning toward the Warriors as his preferred destination. Calderon would be the Warriors’ third point guard, behind Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston, so his role would be smaller in Oakland than Williams’s would be in Cleveland, but adding shooting off the bench is key for Golden State, which has surprisingly few dead-eye shooters on the roster behind Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. When Did Sports Become So Political? Calderon has never been a lockdown defender, and rarely even a serviceable one, but he’s always balanced that out by being one of the most efficient offensive players in the game, picking up a 50-40-90 season along the way. This season, his shooting numbers are all way off of his career norms — 41.6 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three, and a 50.8 true shooting percentage — though he’s also played fewer than 300 minutes on the season.During his longest stretch of extended action — an eight-game run in November and December during which he was pressed into starting — Calderon looked more like himself, posting a 60.2 true shooting percentage and 34.6 assist percentage. He also put up a 116 defensive rating to a 107 offensive rating, and the Lakers dropped five of those eight, so he wasn’t exactly a game-changer. But in a spot-role for the Warriors, he wouldn’t need to be.Most relevant to a job with the Warriors is Calderon’s 39.3 percent shooting on spot-up threes, making him, at worst, one more piece of shooting on a team that runs on the stuff.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

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28 Sep
2019

Quantifying the That Guy Is Still in the Major Leagues Phenomenon

While watching Tuesday’s spring training game between the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves, some of us in the FiveThirtyEight office were surprised to see Tigers shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Didn’t Gonzalez retire years ago?He was Atlanta’s everyday shortstop in 2011, but over the past two seasons, Gonzalez was thoroughly forgettable, playing just 65 games for the Milwaukee Brewers (hitting .211 and producing -0.8 wins above replacement). If you go back to 2009, when Gonzalez was 32, he seemed particularly unlikely to be in the majors five years later.This got us thinking: Could we quantify the “Wait … he’s still playing?” question. Our idea was to use a player’s age and WAR to predict whether he would be an active major leaguer a half-decade later. To that end, we plugged every player from the designated hitter era (1973-present) into a logistic regression model. The result will tell us the likelihood of a given player being in the league five seasons later. For example, here’s the arc of a generic Major League Baseball player who peaks as an All-Star (5 WAR) at age 27:So for players in MLB this season (a list taken from Fangraphs’ depth charts), we looked at the odds at the end of the 2009 season that they’d still be playing today. Here are the most unlikely major leaguers:Gonzalez is not the most improbable player in the game. That honor belongs to catcher Henry Blanco, who was 37 in 2009 and had been hovering around replacement level for the previous three seasons. All else being equal, a player of that profile would have just a 3 percent chance of still being in the majors five years later, and yet Blanco is slated to be in the mix for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ backup catching role this season.Blanco underscores one of the themes of the list. The probabilities listed above don’t take into account the player’s position (beyond the positional adjustments in WAR) — just his age and performance. For most players, that’s enough, but backup catchers are a different breed. No other position is so well-represented among the “I can’t believe he’s still playing” set.One reason for this is that WAR, for all of its strengths, doesn’t incorporate a catcher’s receiving skills. Recent research suggests that elite pitch-framers such as the Tampa Bay Rays’ Jose Molina have a startlingly large impact on the game, far beyond what was originally believed in the sabermetric community.Another explanation, though, is that on-field performance isn’t necessarily the first thing managers look for in their reserve backstops. Instead, managers may place more value on intangibles such as clubhouse presence and leadership. How else to explain how backup catching became what Sports Illustrated once called “the cushiest job in baseball”? read more

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28 Sep
2019

2015 NBA Playoffs Preview

Derrick Rose is back in time for the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Bulls, he’s not the Derrick Rose of four seasons ago, the one who won the MVP award and led the Bulls to their only conference finals since Michael Jordan’s second retirement. Since then, Rose, slowed by injuries, has played just 100 regular-season games and one playoff game. Now he is the only Bulls starter who rates below league average. That’s not enough to make Milwaukee the favorite in this series. Two Bucks starters are below league average, and Milwaukee will have trouble scoring with an offense that is well below league average. The Bulls should win this series — and enjoy the win, because in half of our simulations of the playoffs, they go out in the next round, most likely to LeBron James and the Cavs. — Carl Bialik Western ConferenceEach team is led by one of the best players in basketball: Stephen Curry on Golden State and Anthony Davis on New Orleans. So why do we think Golden State has a 92 percent chance to advance? Because Curry is better, and has much better teammates. Draymond Green, a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year, rates higher than Davis in the Real Plus-Minus player ratings we’re using from Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. Warriors sub Andre Iguodala would be the second-best Pelican. But this might not be a sweep: In their two games against Golden State in New Orleans, the Pelicans won once and forced overtime in the other. But Golden State’s formidable offense should dominate the Pelicans’ subpar D. The Warriors look a lot more like a team for the ages — with an impressive 48 percent chance of winning it all — than like first-round upset fodder. (We were a little stunned by that 48 percent number, but Basketball-Reference.com gives the Warriors about the same odds.) — Carl Bialik You might think the Celtics should just be happy to be here. After all, in late February, they only had a 12 percent probability of making the playoffs, according to the FiveThirtyEight NBA Power Ratings. But rather than merely showing up, getting their souvenir T-shirt and accepting a first-round loss, Boston could give LeBron James and the mighty Cavaliers more trouble than they bargained for. While we can’t derive much meaning from the Celtics’ combined 216-168 margin over Cleveland in their two April matchups — the Cavs were mostly resting their key players — Boston is solid at both ends of the floor, with a great group of guards and a lot of depth. Over the course of the entire season, they were better offensively (relative to the league) than the Cavs’ defense was, and that only includes a few months of Isaiah Thomas. Our model says the Celtics are still unlikely to pull the upset, but they have the ingredients to be much more of a pest than they seemed to be a few months ago. — Neil Paine Portland won fewer games than Memphis (51 to 55) during the regular season, but because the Blazers won the comparatively weak Northwest division, they are the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference and the Grizzlies are the No. 5. But that seed advantage isn’t worth much. Since the Blazers had fewer wins, they will still be on the road for four of their seven potential games against Memphis. Making matters even more complicated, this series is so close that the question of home court could end up making all the difference. Only a tenth of a rating point separates them in our most recent power rankings. Our model gives the Grizzlies a 54 percent probability of winning, but that number would flip around to 53 percent for Portland if the Blazers had home court. Of course, the Grizzlies earned their home-court advantage by winning more games (against a tougher schedule, no less), and this arrangement is good for Portland, too — a 46 percent chance against Memphis is preferable to a 24 percent chance versus the Clippers, which is who they’d face if the conference were seeded purely by record. But this inverted 4-versus-5 matchup is another example of how convoluted and arbitrary the seeding process is in the NBA. And it’s another argument that the league should perhaps just ditch divisions (if not conferences) entirely. — Neil Paine With the latest FiveThirtyEight Power Ratings ranking the Spurs and Clippers as second and fourth, respectively, this matchup is one of the most compelling first-round matchups in recent memory.The defending champion Spurs enter this tournament as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference — far lower than the No. 2 seed they could have had if they had won their final game against the Pelicans on Wednesday. Despite that loss, they had a 21-4 record over their last 25 games, reasserting that they’re contenders despite a 19-18 stretch in the middle of the season.The story of their year has been the breakout of last year’s surprise finals MVP and zero-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs went 46-18 with him in the lineup, with an average margin of victory of 7.8 points per game — which would be second to Golden State’s 10.0 and matches the 7.8 they put up last year. Leonard’s 2014-15 Real Plus-Minus of 8.35 was second in basketball behind Stephen Curry’s, ahead of well-known small forward LeBron James’s. Oh, and he led the league in steals per game.The Clippers are no slouches, either — their SRS3SRS is a team’s margin of victory, adjusted for its strength of schedule. of 6.8 is second-highest in the league behind Golden State’s 10.0 (San Antonio is third, with 6.34). They’ve now won either 56 or 57 games in every full season of the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin era, yet their dynamic duo has not made it past the conference semifinals.Although the Clippers have home-court advantage, the FiveThirtyEight simulations give the Spurs the edge, with a 53 percent chance of advancing. In fact, despite being projected to play any Game 7 from here on out on the road, San Antonio has the third-best chance of winning the championship, at 12 percent. The model gives the Clippers the fourth-best chance, at 8 percent. — Benjamin Morris It’s current MVP contender versus aging MVP winner (but the current contender is the one with the beard). James Harden versus Dirk Nowitzki. The Beard led the league in WAR, according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus metrics. With Harden, Houston has the edge — a 66 percent chance of prevailing, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections. Beyond Harden’s consistency, the Rockets have otherwise ridden the injury luck roller coaster. They enter the playoffs having lost two important starters: versatile big man Donatas Motiejunas and the feisty defender Patrick Beverley at the point. On the other hand, Dwight Howard has returned after missing half the season. The Rockets will need him to maintain their solid +3.2 defensive rating.For the Mavs, it’s been a tale of two seasons. After surprising the league with a hot start, Dallas stagnated after the All-Star break, going 14-13. In FiveThirtyEight’s latest NBA Power Ratings, the Mavs rated as the worst of the Western Conference teams to make the playoffs — even behind the No. 8 seed New Orleans Pelicans. — Andrew Flowers The NBA playoffs are finally upon us, and like the 16 teams vying for the Larry O’Brien trophy, we’ve come prepared — not with basketball skills, mind you,1We shudder to think about what the advanced metrics would say about a FiveThirtyEight pickup team. but with graphics and numbers. Using the latest (postseason-optimized) version of FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings, we simulated the playoff bracket 10,000 times, counting how often each team won its first-round series (as well as tracking which teams won the NBA title most often). We also put together charts highlighting each team’s key players, along with their multiyear predictive Real Plus-Minus2This is a slightly different statistic than the RPM you can find at ESPN.com because it uses data from seasons prior to 2014-15. We like the multiyear version because, among individual player statistics, it is the best predictor of future team outcomes. ratings, plus a comparison of both teams’ strengths and weaknesses according to the four factors of basketball. (Note that in some of our write-ups below, we use single-season RPM, so those numbers will be slightly different than the multiyear RPM we list in the charts.) So get settled in, maybe throw some chalk in the air, and enjoy the brutal, glorious two-month journey that is the road to the NBA championship. Eastern ConferenceThe Brooklyn Nets will not win the NBA championship. No, really: We ran 10,000 simulations of the playoffs, and the Nets were the only team to never win it all. They have only a 10 percent chance of moving on from their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. This is among the most lopsided matchups of the first round. The Nets, ranked No. 22 in FiveThirtyEight’s Power Ratings, are by far the worst team to make the postseason. With their 38-44 record and -2.9 point differential (the only playoff team in red), the Nets are lucky they’re in the Eastern Conference — further momentum for reform to the NBA’s postseason structure.Atlanta is coming off a franchise-record 60-win regular season; this should be a cakewalk for the Hawks (even after losing defensive stalwart Thabo Sefolosha to injury after a run-in with the NYPD). Atlanta is well-balanced: +2.9 points per 100 possessions on offense and +2.0 on defense. The Nets have a pedestrian offense (+1.1) but are a disaster on defense: At -4.7, their defensive rating is the fifth-worst in the league. If the Nets avoid a sweep, it’ll be an achievement. — Andrew Flowers This series features two teams that started out the season looking like they might be the next big thing (at least in the Eastern Conference). The fourth-seeded Toronto Raptors began the season 7-1 and made it all the way to 24-7 before a four-game losing streak started their 25-26 finish — with their final record only a one-win improvement on last year. The Wizards started out 4-1 and made it to 19-6, but have been 27-30 since, ultimately improving on last season’s 44-win campaign by just two wins.Both teams are led by All-Star point guards, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Washington’s John Wall, with Lowry making the All-Star team for the first time in the eighth year of his career (his third with the Raptors). ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus for this season ranks them as the fourth- and sixth-best point guards in 2015. Lowry performed a little worse than last year; his RPM dipped slightly from 4.3 to 4.1 and his WAR (wins above replacement) dipped from 11.6 to 9.4. But for Wall, 2014-15 was a big improvement on the year before: His 4.7 RPM and 12.1 WAR were both up from 2.2 and 8.3 last year, respectively.The FiveThirtyEight simulations give the Raptors a 60 percent chance of winning this series but don’t see either team as a championship contender. They give the Raptors a 1 percent chance of winning the title and the Wizards an even smaller chance. In the 10,000 simulations we ran, the Raptors or Wizards won the championship only 108 times, the fewest of any of the eight first-round matchups. — Benjamin Morris read more

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