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Kyle Lowry Could Make Toronto An NBA Finals Dark Horse

It’s likely no coincidence that Toronto’s opponents are scoring at a rate of nearly 4 fewer points per 100 possessions with Lowry on the court than they did a season ago. In fact, Lowry’s rehabilitation has been so complete that the Raptors now rank among the league’s top 10 teams at both ends of the floor and he has risen to full-blown MVP candidate status.You’re only as good as your best playerIt’s no secret that there’s a distinct relationship between a team’s championship probability and the quality of its best player, but it takes a truly exceptional player to make a run at a title. In the past, Lowry hasn’t been good enough to move that needle, but this season’s version is inching into the territory where small individual improvements can drastically upgrade a team’s chances of winning a championship.We’d expect a team being led by Lowry at his previous career-high BPM of +5.9 to win the title about 5 percent of the time; at this season’s +7.2 mark, those odds are doubled, to 10 percent. (Not even Carter in his prime led Toronto with a BPM so high.) Add in a decent supporting cast — and it’s debatable as to whether Toronto has one of those, particularly with DeMarre Carroll on ice, but let’s entertain the notion anyway — and suddenly the idea of a championship parade down Bay Street doesn’t seem quite so pie-in-the-sky. By just about any measure, the last three seasons have been the best time to root for the Toronto Raptors in their 20-year history. The Vince Carter era was thrilling but brief, and Chris Bosh’s dinos never quite realized their potential. Since 2013-14, however, the Raptors’ winning percentage has hovered around 60 percent, and their efficiency differential has been roughly 3.5 points per 100 possessions — numbers that those previous runs only approached in spurts.For all that success, however, Toronto has had trouble making any kind of dent come playoff time. As my ESPN colleague Zach Lowe wrote about Tuesday, each of the team’s past two postseasons ended with a first-round exit, and although the Raptors were upset both times — implying they had the talent to potentially go further — 49-win teams don’t typically vie for NBA championships anyway.1There are rare exceptions, but even conditional on making it past the first round of the playoffs, only 13 percent of teams that won 48 to 50 games in a season went on to the NBA Finals. If this season’s version of the club is basically the same, expecting different results would be irrational.These Raptors, however, have a secret weapon that their predecessors lacked: skinny Kyle Lowry.Technically speaking, this is Lowry’s fourth season with Toronto; he even logged the second-most minutes of any Raptor during the failed playoff runs of 2014 and 2015. But that version of Lowry was — how can we say it? — less svelte, and far less productive. By Box Plus/Minus (BPM), Lowry’s 2014-15 season was the worst he’d had in four years. This season, though, Lowry profiles like a top-five player according to the advanced metrics. And his sudden improvement could finally give Toronto the star power necessary to truly compete for a championship.Lowry’s evolving gameBefore this season, Lowry appeared to be on an evolutionary arc many players go through, trading a higher usage rate for less efficient scoring. In his rise as one of the game’s best guards, he’d once ranked in at least the 70th percentile of NBA players in both true shooting percentage and usage. That isn’t an easy thing to do. But last season, Lowry seemed to have surpassed the workload at which he could maintain a reasonable level of efficiency — a situation exacerbated by the banged-up state he found himself in as the season progressed. As a result, his offensive numbers dipped: He settled for more midrange shots and drew fewer fouls; he ran the pick-and-roll less often (and less efficiently); and over the course of the season, he struggled with his jump shot in a way he hadn’t for years.Although Lowry was pretty clearly not being himself, the Raptors won the Atlantic Division and locked up the No. 4 seed in the East. But the team was also unceremoniously swept by Washington, a series in which Lowry kept a high usage but saw his efficiency completely collapse. This seemed like a bad sign.Perhaps even more troubling, it was getting harder to find evidence that Lowry — a player with a good two-way reputation — was still among the league’s best defensive guards. Going into last season, he’d ranked up around the 80th percentile of NBA guards in defensive BPM over his career — a ranking corroborated by play-by-play plus/minus metrics and tracking data from Synergy Sports Technology — numbers underpinned by smart, bruising pick-and-roll defense. But in 2014-15, Lowry’s defensive indicators offered mixed messages. Although he still gave the Raptors’ defense a boost while on the floor, the team was also significantly worse defensively than it had been the previous season, and Lowry often looked slow, clunky and, at times, indifferent when trying to fight through ball screens. This season, Lowry has made course corrections at both ends of the floor. Although his usage continues to grow, his scoring efficiency has bounced back, in part because of smarter shot selection. He’s once again devoting fewer shots to the midrange, allowing his rates of taking threes and drawing fouls to return to their historical norms, and he’s been faster and more aggressive in the transition game as well. On defense, you can really see the effects of Lowry’s offseason weight loss. Last season, Lowry frequently failed when trying to use his strength to fight through screens (both on the ball and off), ceded too many easy buckets on pick-and-rolls and was generally slow to recover when he guessed wrong or his gambles didn’t pay off.2014-15: So this season should be encouraging for Raptors fans, at least by this metric. But after years of watching Chris Paul-led teams underachieve in the playoffs, it’s fair to ask whether this algorithm oversells the title chances for a point guard-driven squad. And as it happens, controlling for the entire skill set of a team’s best player, we found a slight tendency for teams led by players with a lot of value tied up in passing to perform worse in the postseason than we’d expect from their BPM. This could be due to any number of causes — from defenses keying in on passing patterns in a long playoff series to the way a playmaker’s value is only maximized when complemented by other skills (or perhaps it’s just random noise) — but it’s one (albeit minor) reason to consider lowering expectations for Lowry.Except that this season, Lowry’s game has been extremely well-rounded — he ranks in at least the 78th percentile of all NBA players in scoring efficiency, possession usage, assist rate and defensive BPM. Historically, teams whose best players excel in the first and last of those categories tend to exceed expectations in the playoffs at a rate far greater than any penalty that’s levied against passers.Of course, all of this presumes that Lowry’s overhauled game is legit. He’s currently 29 years old, an age at which NBA players are typically already on the downside of their careers, not metamorphosing into championship-caliber stars. Also, there was little in Lowry’s preseason CARMELO projection (our statistical crystal ball for NBA careers) to suggest an imminent breakout, aside from the late-blooming presence of Steve Nash on the fringe of his comparables list. An optimistic look at his strongest CARMELO comps suggested that he might pull a Rod Strickland and stay productive into his mid-30s; a less rosy one saw the possibility of flaming out far sooner, like Michael Adams and Derek Harper. So it’s entirely possible that Lowry will regress toward his previous career norms in the season’s second half.But given the particulars of Lowry’s skill set, and the ways in which he’s corrected his deficiencies of a season ago, it’s also very possible that if his caloric intake doesn’t regress, neither will his output.The question of whether Lowry’s teammates are good enough to support a championship run is still very much open. And even if they are, Lowry may have timed his improvement poorly, elevating his play during a season with two abnormally dominant teams that are soaking up all the league’s title odds. But Lowry’s sudden upgrade to the NBA’s elite class of players gives the Raptors a superstar the likes of which they’ve never had before. At the very least, they now possess a crucial element that was missing from the team’s recent string of good-but-not-good-enough campaigns. The new, slimmed-down version of Lowry has been quicker afoot and more focused in his pursuit of ballhandlers around and through screens, forcing more turnovers and fouling less as a result.2015-16: read more

OSU searches for luck of the Irish in trip to Notre Dame

The Ohio State men’s hockey team (2-4-0) stays on the road to compete against the No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-3-0) in a two game series Friday and Saturday. The Irish are the defending CCHA regular season and tournament champions.After losing the first game of a two-game series against Lake Superior State last weekend by a score of 3-2, OSU had to find a way to rally back in the second contest.The Buckeyes were trailing 2-0 in the first period, but tied the game after goals by Matt Bartkowski and Sergio Somma. After Lake Superior State put another puck in the net, Peter Boyd and Patrick Schafer responded with goals of their own to give the Buckeyes their second victory of the season.The Buckeyes hope to ride Saturday’s 4-3 comeback victory over Lake Superior State into South Bend, Ind. The Irish, however, have been one of the most dominant teams in college hockey in the past three seasons. Since 2006, they have posted 90-29-10 overall record and a nation-best .742 winning percentage. Notre Dame won the CCHA regular season titles in the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons. The team also competed in the 2008 national title game, but fell to Boston College.The team has gotten off to a disappointing start compared to last season as the Irish are currently sitting at a .500 winning percentage. Notre Dame’s most notable win this season was a 3-0 victory at Boston University, its only away game of the premature season.Notre Dame had to replace six seniors who were vital parts of its team last season, but brought back a crop of athletes to fill in the holes left by the graduating senior class.Junior defenseman Ian Cole was a first team All-American last season and senior right wing Erick Condra was a second team All-American. Senior left wing Ryan Thang will wear the captain stitching for the 2009-2010 season. Thang is tied for first all-time with 13 game-winning goals.Jeff Jackson is in his fifth season on the bench as the Irish’s coach. During his Irish career, he has compiled a 103-48-14 record. Jackson was the 2006-07 Coach of the Year, leading Notre Dame to the first Frozen Four appearance in school history.OSU split the series versus Notre Dame last season, winning, 4-1, and losing, 4-3, in overtime at the Schottenstein Center.  It does not look as if Buckeyes coach John Markell has selected a true starting goalie for his team yet. Cal Heeter and Dustin Carlson each started one of the games in the past series versus Lake Superior State. Heeter has been in goal when the Buckeyes have won both of their contests, but Markell still has not made the decision if there will be one starting goalie this season.The coach has insisted that for his team to be successful he does not need just one starting goalie, just someone to fill in the spot between the posts and help his team win.The Buckeyes will play the Irish at 7:35 p.m. Friday and at 5:05 p.m. Saturday at Joyce Center Rink. read more

Sarri open to Chelsea youngsters

first_imgNew Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri predicts good things for the club’s young players.Maurizio Sarri has hinted he may make use of Chelsea’s youngsters in main competitions next season as he says “we will hear a lot of positive things” about them next season.Chelsea have always been criticized for stockpiling young players and sending them out on loan to other clubs as well as failure to give their academy products a chance in the first team.On Saturday night, a host of Chelsea youngsters including Ethan Ampadu, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Marcin Bulka, Lucas Piazon all saw action in the International Champions Cup match against Italian side Inter Milan.A game which ended 1-1 after 90minutes before Sarri’s troops won the game 5-4 on penalties.Maurizio Sarri, JuventusMaurizio Sarri satisfied despite Juventus’ draw at Fiorentina Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Maurizio Sarri was satisfied with Juventus’ performance on Saturday afternoon after finishing a tough game at Fiorentina 0-0.Sarri spoke to reporters of his team’s progress after the game. The former Napoli boss said according to Sports Mole:“We’ve been working hard but it is only the beginning.”“Not everyone is back from holidays but the players here are doing very well. We’re a little behind physically but I’m pleased with the result.”“For the youngsters, we’ll just have to wait and see how long it takes some of them to have an impact because I don’t have an experience in the English game. I think we’ll hear a lot of good things about them this season.”Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign against Huddersfield but will face Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on August 5.last_img read more

Gerrard insists Rangers must improve their form to challenge Celtic

first_imgRangers manager Steven Gerrard insists his team must improve their form of they’re to compete with Celtic for the Scottish Premiership title.The Gers host Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on Saturday looking to go level on points with the league leaders with a victory, but Gerrard insists his team must change their approach to pick all up three points.“I look round and I see good players,” Gerrard said, according to Evening Times.“That’s the first thing.”“I think we have played teams on Celtic’s level, in terms of quality and technical ability, at Ibrox this year. I think we coped very well in those games and proved we were a match for them.”“Having our fans behind us should certainly give us an advantage and give the players confidence and belief. They can push us on.”Steven Gerrard, Michael OwenOwen reveals why Liverpool didn’t offer Gerrard a new contract Manuel R. Medina – September 6, 2019 According to Owen, the Reds wanted to sell Gerrard two years before he left the club and that’s why they didn’t offer him a contract renewal.“But there is no doubt we have to max out. We need everyone to step up and perform close to their best for us to get a result.”“I think we are more used to each other. We have certainly grown as a group. The first Old Firm game came around pretty quickly and was on the back of a tough away European fixture.”“I don’t think we are much better equipped or much better than we were last time.”“The key for me, and the message to the players, is don’t freeze and have too much respect like you did the last time. Don’t sit back and wait for the game. Go and grab it.”“Go and seize the moment and the opportunity to express yourselves. I want the players to be excited about this fixture, not fearful.”last_img read more

Mexico says Guard deployment beginning forms migrant team

first_img June 11, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News, National & International News, Politics Tags: Immigration AP, AP Mexico says Guard deployment beginning, forms migrant teamcenter_img MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican officials said Tuesday they are beginning deployment of the country’s new National Guard for immigration enforcement, an accelerated commitment of a 6,000-strong force made as part of an agreement with the United States to head off threatened U.S. tariffs on imports from Mexico.President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard also announced that a team of five officials, including a general and a prison director, has been formed to implement the immigration plan.Ebrard said that Gen. Vicente Antonio Hernández Sánchez, commander of the Tapachula military zone near the border with Guatemala, will begin a tour of the south “to speed up the deployment in the area.”Cuban migrants land on the Mexican side of the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala, after crossing on a raft near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, early Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Mexican officials say they are beginning deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops for immigration enforcement, an accelerated commitment made as part of an agreement with the United States last week to head off threatened U.S. tariffs on imports from Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)The main objective is to register migrants, offer them options for regularizing their immigration status and return those who don’t want to register, he added.Ebrard did not mention detentions, which have risen notably in recent months, but said there is a need to expand and improve overcrowded immigration facilities that operate as de facto detention centers.Another deployment is going to the frontier with the United States to attend to migrants who have been returned to Mexico while their asylum claims are processed in U.S. courts.As part of the deal reached last Friday with Washington, Mexico agreed to an expansion of the program known as Migrant Protection Protocol, though the United States has run into its own logistical obstacles to ramping it up.There have been more than 11,000 returns by migrants to Mexico under MPP since it launched in January, according to the most recent figures from the Mexican government.Mexico’s National Guard is a newly formed force tasked with policing rising insecurity. It is separate from the military and is legally supposed to be under civilian command, though it is largely made up of current or former soldiers and federal police. Posted: June 11, 2019 FacebookTwitterlast_img read more

Town Reaches Contract Agreements With Firefighters Union Custodians Union

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — The Town of Wilmington recently ratified collective bargaining agreements with two unions in town — the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1370 and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 1703, Unit 1 (custodians and building maintenance workers).Fire Fighters Union“Basically, the major terms of the agreement are a COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) of 2.5% retroactive July 1, 2018; a 2.75% COLA beginning July 1, 2019; and a 2.75% COLA beginning July 1, 2020.” announced Hull at last week’s Selectmen’s Meeting. “There’s a number of language clarifications in the contract. One of the things we obtained was confirmation that when someone is out on unpaid leave, they won’t accrue personal, sick or vacation time… There was also an adjustment to their uniform allowance, with an increase from $700 to $1,000.”Selectmen unanimously approved and executed the agreement without discussion. The town had been negotiating with the union since early 2018.Custodians & Building Maintenance Workers Union“The contract expired on July 1, 2018. We’ve been negotiating with them since early 2018. They’ve received COLAs of 2.5% retroactive July 1, 2018; a 2.5% COLA beginning July 1, 2019; and a 2.5% COLA beginning July 1, 2020,” explained Hull. “The agreement also contained language indicating employees on unpaid leave would not accrue benefits. In addition, employees have to notify the town 72 hours in advance if they’re requesting vacation time. And we’ve codified what happens when someone accrues personal time after they’ve been hired. There had been confusion on this matter that led to a grievance.”Selectmen approved and executed the agreement without discussion. Selectman McCoy abstained from the vote.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSELECTMEN NEWS: DPW & Library Staff, Town Secretaries & Admin Assistants To Receive 7.5% Salary Increase Over 3 YearsIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: Town Enters Into New 3-Year Contract With Dispatchers UnionIn “Government”Wilmington Police Patrol Officers Sign New Agreement With TownIn “Government”last_img read more

ASK demands probe into BCL attack on quota reformists

first_img.Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a rights body, has urged the government to investigate the attacks on the quota reformists by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists and to release Rashed Khan, joint convener of Bangladesh General Students Rights Protection Council immediately.It made the demand in a statement issued on Sunday.The statement signed by ASK executive director Sheepa Hafiza said, “On Saturday morning, at least 10 leaders of the central committee of the council were injured in an attack by some BCL men on the DU campus. Police arrested Rashed in a case filed by a BCL leader which is very regrettable.”It also criticised the silence of the Dhaka University (DU) administration over the attack and its failure to control it.Terming the BCL attack on students ‘unacceptable’, the rights body asked the government to identify the attackers immediately and mete out exemplary punishment to them.last_img read more

Trauma care centres to come up in major hospitals across Bengal

first_imgKolkata: The state government has chalked out a detailed plan to set up trauma care centres at various hospitals in the state, to ensure quick treatment to accident victims. The government will bear a cost of around Rs 45 crore for the construction of the trauma care centres and for buying equipments.According to initial plans, eight trauma care centres would be constructed in the first phase. The locations would be on or near national and state highways and other important roads. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIt has been learnt that three trauma care centres would be located at SSKM Hospital, Bardhaman Medical College and Hospital (BMCH) and North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), while three others would be constructed at Kharagpur, Asansol and Islampur. The remaining two will be set up at Singur and Amtala.The critical patients would be admitted in the trauma care centres on an emergency basis. Accident victims or any trauma patient will be kept in the centres, where the patients would be given special care. These trauma care centres will have all the modern facilities to handle such patients. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedThe victims of fire incidents or those seriously injured in accidents, would be taken to the trauma care unit of the hospitals, where they would be given immediate attention. It is important to transfer these patients to a hospital equipped with trauma care facilities. This could save lives of many accident victims in the state, the senior officials of the state Health department said.The construction of the trauma care centre at BMCH has already been done. There will be 25 beds – 10 general, 10 critical care and five step down or high-dependency units (HDU). Accidents victims in the area are often brought to the city’s hospital and it takes a long time to shift a critical patient to the city. Had there been a trauma care unit at BMCH, people meeting with road accidents in the area can be provided treatment faster. The trauma care centre at NBMCH will be made operational soon.According to the Health department sources, the largest trauma care centre is coming up at the SSKM Hospital. It is expected that it can be made operational within September this year. Those coming up at BMCH, NBMCH and Singur will be of level 2 category, while the ones at Kharagpur and Islampur will be of level 3 category. A trauma care centre was inaugurated at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital, a few months ago. It may be mentioned that RG Kar Medical College and Hospital is the first medical college hospital in the state to have a separate dedicated building for trauma care. The eight-storeyed building of the trauma care unit has departments like medicine, neuro-medicine, neuro-surgery, orthopedic and anesthesiology. Patients are availing specialised health care facilities under the same roof. The new building has 150 beds.last_img read more

Fire breaks out at godown in Rajarhat no casualties

first_imgKolkata: A fire broke out at a warehouse at Podra near Langolpota in Rajarhat on Thursday morning. Firefighters brought the flames under control at around 5.20 pm. However, none has been injured in the incident.According to the firefighters, the godown was filled with large quantities of handcraft items (both finished and unfinished), which were extremely inflammable. Fire safety equipment was not present at the premises.At around 7 am, some local residents noticed smoke coming out from a two-storied godown beside Rajarhat Road. Sensing danger, locals immediately rushed inside the godown campus and alerted the workers who were inside. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeWith the help of passerby and residents of the area, all the workers were safely evacuated from the godown. Police and fire & emergency services were also informed. After receiving information, both firefighters and police reached the spot without delay.As there were no other house or construction adjacent to the godown, firefighters got the situation under control. But since the fire had captured the whole godown, they faced difficulties in arresting the fire fast. At first 5 fire tenders were pressed into action. But as time passed, firefighters called for backup. At noon, more fire tenders were sent to the spot from various fire & emergency service stations.Finally, with the help of 14 fire tenders, the blaze was arrested at around 5:20 pm. According to the police, no one has been injured in the incident. Later, a mobile forensic unit visited the godown and collected samples. The godown in-charge Ashoke Nandi has been detained by the police for further investigation.last_img read more