City learning to ‘suffer’ as they scrape through latest Lyon test

first_imgPep Guardiola has said his Manchester City side might need to suffer if they are to make the leap and win the Champions League, and in that sense Lyon have done the Premier League champions a huge favour twice this season.They have made Guardiola’s men suffer for 180 minutes, recording a win and a draw that has ultimately not jeopardised City’s chances of reaching the knock-out phases, but which will give the Blues plenty to ponder as they progress in the competition.City’s 2-2 draw at the Groupama Stadium on Tuesday night secured qualification, which will provide as much relief as it will joy given they lost their opening game to this very side back in September.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Yet if City think they got out of the woods by twice pegging back the fearless French side, they will be in for a rude awakening come the last 16 and beyond. Having lost to Lyon at the Etihad Stadium to Lyon in September, Guardiola said his players needed more bruising encounters to get them used to life against the big boys, the teams who will take the game to them. “Maybe we need to live a [difficult] moment in the competition,” he said. “The last two seasons when I’m here we qualified quite comfortably. Maybe you have to suffer in the group stage to realise and make a step forward.”As Lyon attacked City relentlessly on Tuesday night, fans and pundits alike mused that this is what Premier League teams need to do more often. That ignores the fact that most Premier League teams are simply not built to do that, neither in terms of quality or mentality. Aymeric Laporte Manchester City Lyon Champions League 27112018But across Europe there are several sides built exactly like that, who will play their own game against Guardiola’s men. Teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and perhaps Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain, teams that City will have to face at some point if they are to win this competition.The elite clubs may not be quite at their best at the moment, and City may be outdoing them in terms of league performances, but, as Lyon have proven twice now, form can count for nothing when it comes to one-off meetings.Does it matter that Lyon are second in Ligue 1 and miles behind PSG if they leave Memphis Depay, Nabil Fekir and Maxwel Cornet up front against City’s back three when the Blues have the ball, and push another two players up into the forward line when Lyon are attacking?It is that kind of bravery, blended with their quality, that has troubled City so consistently across their two meetings, and there will be more of that to come next year.City have been without Kevin De Bruyne for both games against Lyon, it should be pointed out, though while his inclusion would no doubt improve his side, he cannot be expected to combat all of the problems that the big sides will pose.In De Bruyne’s absence on Tuesday it was hoped and expected that youngster Phil Foden would start, although given how the game panned out Guardiola could argue he was sparing the 18-year-old a baptism of fire.Sergio Aguero Manchester City Lyon Champions League 27112018Yet with three of the senior players ahead of him all ruled out through injury, and with Guardiola having said he is “definitely” ready for a game of this stature, Foden may well wonder when he will get the chance to show he can indeed handle the pressure.Seeing the game pan out as it did, however, that is a mere footnote. Top of the agenda will be City’s ability, or otherwise, to handle Europe’s most dangerous sides.There are positives, of course. Maybe the suffering has already had an effect; Guardiola wants and needs to see an improvement from his players when they are faced with adversity, and the fact they twice hit back to equalise here bodes well.Then again, none of this will come as much of a surprise to Guardiola, who does not believe that his side are ready to win the Champions League, in terms of the stature of the club.But any outside observer will rightly expect this team of talented, motivated and intelligent footballers to make a serious challenge this season.If they are to do that they will have to come through more testing nights like this. There will be more suffering to come. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

10 months agoREVEALED: Mbappe would’ve chosen Real Madrid if not for Bale

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say REVEALED: Mbappe would’ve chosen Real Madrid if not for Baleby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the lovePSG star Kylian Mbappe would be a Real Madrid player if not for Gareth Bale, it has been revealed.AS says Mbappe chose to move to PSG from AS Monaco in the summer of 2017 over Real Madrid because of the presence of Bale.A fee beginning at €180m rising to €214m had been settled with Monaco, but Mbappe refused to go to Madrid as he couldn’t see a place for himself in then coach Zinedine Zidane’s plans.It’s suggested if Real president Florentino Perez had agreed to sell Bale to Manchester United would’ve seen Mbappe arrive in his place.But as a source stated: “But Mbappé preferred to go to Paris because Florentino did not want to part with Bale…” last_img read more

Alabama Football: Here’s Video Of Nick Saban’s Daughter Dancing As The Alabama Mascot At Her Wedding

first_imgA closeup of Nick Saban on the Alabama sideline.TUSCALOOSA, AL – NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the game against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Saturday night, Nick Saban’s daughter, Kristen, got married at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which, of course, is the ultimate dream for any Crimson Tide fan. The wedding was complete with a rendition of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and a number of other Alabama-themed activities for guests. But one takes the cake.Kristen Saban and her new husband, Adam Setas, danced with Alabama mascot heads. Yep, Saban danced with the Big Al headpiece on at her wedding. There was more than one, too. Check it out:Weird? A little. But if you’re going to go full Alabama at your wedding, this is how to do it.last_img read more

Arkansas Drops An Awesome Hype Video For Saturday’s Mississippi State Game

first_imgArkansas player getting carried off the field after a big win.YouTube/Arkansas RazorbacksFor the second straight season, the Arkansas Razorbacks have rebounded from a shaky start to the season to go on an impressive SEC West winning streak. Starting with a four-overtime win over Auburn, the Hogs have won four straight, with three victories in division. Two weeks ago, they beat Ole Miss in overtime, and last Saturday, they blew out LSU in Baton Rouge. Underestimating Arkansas would not be wise right now. With this week’s hype video ahead of the Mississippi State game, Arkansas has a message for the opposition: “don’t mess with them bad boys in red.” last_img

Church Leaders Urged to Help Promote Healthy Lifestyle Habits

first_imgStory Highlights He was speaking at a Physical Activity Forum for leaders of faith-based organisations at the Spanish Court Hotel in St. Andrew on (Friday) May 10. Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is calling on church leaders to partner with the Government on its healthy lifestyle promotion campaign in order to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).“This partnership is very important. Too many of us are afflicted by various lifestyle ailments and diseases and that is reflected in the data (from) the hospitals,” the Minister said.He was speaking at a Physical Activity Forum for leaders of faith-based organisations at the Spanish Court Hotel in St. Andrew on (Friday) May 10.Citing statistics, Dr. Tufton said that one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive, one in eight is diabetic and one in two is obese or overweight.He noted that an average of 6, 000 Jamaicans die from cardiovascular diseases each year, 4,000 from cancer and another 7,000 are diagnosed with cancer.He argued that these conditions are preventable if people follow healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, daily exercise and have annual health checks.The Physical Activity Forum, under the theme:  ‘Love Yuh Body, Treat Yuh Body Right,’ was hosted by the Ministry to mark World Move for Health Day.The event promoted the importance of exercise as part of the larger ‘Jamaica Moves’ programme.Activities on the day included blood pressure and blood sugar tests, as well as nutrition displays, and the launch of a Physical Activity Bible.Director of Health Promotion and Education in the Ministry, Takese Foga, explained that the bible is an important resource developed by the Ministry as it seeks to use creative ways to engage the public in its healthy lifestyle initiative.“It is designed to support you all, as church leaders, in incorporating healthy activities into your services, into your programmes and into your activities. It is really a guide for you to use, just to give you some ideas,” Ms. Foga said.Data from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016-17, indicated that only two per cent of persons were involved in high intensity physical activity; 16 per cent were engaged in moderate activity; and 82 per cent were found to be involved in low activity.World Move for Health Day is a global day of awareness and action to encourage persons to introduce physical activity as part of a lifestyle habit.The initiative was borne out of a 2002 World Health Report, which revealed that a large number of persons engaged in very limited physical activity.In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.In Jamaica, this accounts for 12 per cent of mortality contributing to 13 per cent of breast cancer, 14 per cent of colon cancer, eight per cent of coronary heart disease, and 10 per cent of Type 2 diabetes. Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is calling on church leaders to partner with the Government on its healthy lifestyle promotion campaign in order to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). “This partnership is very important. Too many of us are afflicted by various lifestyle ailments and diseases and that is reflected in the data (from) the hospitals,” the Minister said.last_img read more

Oil prices Alberta election call cloud Stampede chuckwagon auction expectations

first_imgThe current NDP government introduced controversial oil production curtailments in January and is investing in crude-by-rail capacity to fill a shortfall in export pipeline room.Bensmiller also took the prize for the highest tarp price of $130,000 last year as a total of $3.2 million was bid at the auction.“I’m hoping with the economy the way it is, if we stay close to what it was last year or even the average comes up a bit as a whole, the driver group will be pretty excited about that,” he said in an interview.“I’ve talked to a few (prospective sponsors) and they expressed interest in me so I’m not really on pins and needles.”The top money bid last year came from Versatile Energy Services, Ltd., a private oilfield services company based in the resort town of Sylvan Lake in central Alberta.Versatile president Kent Stormoen said he plans to be at the event tonight but declined to make any predictions for results given the province’s current uncertain times. “The industry still isn’t rolling like we expect it to but (the sponsorship) did help with the exposure of our company,” he said.“I think there’s a lot of uncertainty with the provincial election coming now and the new federal budget that’s come out.”Stampede spokeswoman Kristina Barnes said Wednesday the number of bidders who have pre-registered for the auction is at more than 130, a bit behind last year’s pace while adding many bidders register just before the event.The record year for overall tarp auction results came in 2012 when bidders pledged just over $4 million, including the highest bid of $300,000 by oilfield services firm Tervita Corp. At the time, oil prices were hovering above US$100 per barrel versus recent prices of around US$60 per barrel. CALGARY, A.B. – Chuckwagon drivers and sponsors are hoping for the best as clouds of political and energy industry uncertainty gather ahead of the Calgary Stampede canvas auction tonight.The success of the annual event is considered a bellwether for the Calgary-based oil and gas industry, as many of the sponsors who pay to have their company names on the 36 rigs competing in the 10-day July tribute to cowboy culture are energy industry players.Champion driver Kurt Bensmiller, who won the chuckwagon derby for the fourth time in five years in 2018, says the calling of an Alberta election on Tuesday creates more uncertainty for an economy battered by recent commodity price volatility and slowing oilfield activity.center_img About 80 percent of the canvas auction proceeds go to the drivers and the rest is used for prize money, safety and other chuckwagon initiatives.last_img read more

RCMP continue to search for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky in Manitoba

first_imgThe RCMP said they pair were last seen driving a 2011 Rav 4, but rumours on social media suggest the vehicle may have been found near Gillam. The RCMP has not yet confirmed those rumours. Kam McLeod is described as:6 foot 4Approximately 169 poundsDark brown hair and facial hairBrown eyesBryer Schmegelsky is described as: Originally the pair were considered missing after their truck was found burnt near Dease Lake.Saskatchewan RCMP confirmed the pair were spotted in Meadow Lake on Sunday and continued to travel east.3/4 Both Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were seen in Meadow Lake, SK on Sunday, July 21, 2019. We believe they are continuing to travel.— RCMP Saskatchewan (@RCMPSK) July 24, 2019 6 foot 4Approximately 169 poundsSandy brown haircenter_img GILLAM, M.B. – The search for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky continues in Manitoba.The Mayor of Gillam Manitoba has told CBC Manitoba there is a heavy police presence on the only road in and out of the community. The Mayor went on to say the RCMP haven’t confirmed if the suspects are still in Gillam. The Mayor is also telling residents to stay indoors or travel in groups.In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, the Manitoba RCMP said the two suspects were recently in the Gillam area of Manitoba. Gillam is approximately 1,000km north of Winnipeg by road. PUBLIC SAFETY – Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky MAY be in Manitoba and are considered dangerous. We have reasons to believe they were recently in the Gillam area. If you spot them – take no actions – do not approach – call 911 or your local police immediately. #rcmpmb— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 23, 2019In a bizarre twist Tuesday, the RCMP named Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky as suspects in the case of three deaths in Northern B.C.last_img read more

Six of Indian family in Canada among 157 dead in Ethiopian Airlines

Filed under: uinqbywb — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 10:44 am October 12, 2019

first_imgOttawa: The “trip of a lifetime” to a safari park in Kenya turned into a nightmare for six members of a family from India in Canada who perished when the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa. The Boeing 737 took-off from Bole International Airport on Sunday and lost contact six minutes later before coming down near Tulu Fara village outside the Ethiopian town of Bishoftu, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board, including tourists and business travellers. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi JinpingThe victims included Pannagesh Vaidya, 73; his wife Hansini Vaidya, 67; their daughter Kosha Vaidya, 37; her husband Prerit Dixit, 45; and their two children Anushka and Ashka Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown was quoted as saying by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. While the Surat-based Vaidya couple were Indian nationals, their daughter, husband and two children were Canadians of Indian-origin. The family who were living in Canada, heading for a safari vacation, were about to experience “the trip of a lifetime” in Kenya when the tragic loss happened. Also Read – US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in Xinjiang”This is an unbelievably tragic situation for this family,” Brown said in a statement. “As more details become known, I will provide a further update on how Brampton residents can assist this family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this time of sorrow and reflection.” The flags at city hall will remain at half-mast until further notice in honour of the family, Brown said in a message on Twitter. “It’s a huge tragedy,” Manant Vaidya, son of Pannagesh, said. “I lost my parents, I lost my sister. I don’t have anyone else now.” Manant said his sister, who became a Canadian permanent resident in 2003, wanted to take her children to Kenya to visit her birthplace. “They thought March break was the perfect time for them to go over there, have fun,” he said. “It was going to be a really great trip for everybody.”last_img read more

Turkey recounts Istanbul votes after Erdogans party appeals loss

first_imgIstanbul: Turkish electoral authorities on Wednesday recounted votes in more than a dozen Istanbul districts after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP challenged results giving the opposition a narrow victory in a weekend election. The AKP won most votes nationwide in Sunday’s municipal ballot, but tallies also showed the party lost the capital Ankara and the country’s economic hub Istanbul in one of its worst setbacks in a decade and a half in power. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USAKP officials on Tuesday filed a challenge with electoral authorities saying they had found irregularities in ballots in both Ankara and Istanbul. “The district branches of the electoral board in Istanbul decided to recount the ballots in eight districts after the appeals yesterday,” Supreme Election Board chief Sadi Guven told reporters. Anadolu state news agency later said officials were recounting votes in 18 Istanbul districts, including in three where every vote was being verified. In the other districts, officials were checking only nullified ballots. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsAKP officials had said there was a huge discrepancy between ballots cast at polling stations and data sent to election authorities. Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, was a key election prize for Erdogan and he presented former premier and loyalist Binali Yildirim to run as the party candidate for mayor. Erdogan, himself a former Istanbul mayor, had campaigned hard in the city. But the ruling party was stung by the economy with Turkey in recession for the first time in a decade and inflation in double digits. Istanbul was a tight race and both Yildirim and the opposition CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu declared victory when tallies showed them in a dead heat. Electoral authorities on Monday said Imamoglu was ahead by 28,000 votes with nearly all ballot boxes tallied, prompting AKP officials to challenge the result. “The world is watching us, watching the results of our city’s election,” Imamoglu told reporters on Wednesday, asking that he be handed his mandate as soon as possible. “I say clearly: Don’t let Turkey’s credibility be destroyed by 3 or 4 people acting like they are kids who had their toys taken away from them.” But the AKP was fighting back. Deputy chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz claimed the difference had now slipped to fewer than 20,000 votes between Imamoglu and Yildirim. Imamoglu had 48.79 per cent of the votes while Yildirim had 48.52 percent, Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday, citing preliminary results. It reported close to 300,000 votes had been annulled in Istanbul voting on election day. A loss in Istanbul would be especially sensitive for Erdogan, who grew up in the city’s working-class Kasimpasa neighbourhood and liked to tell AKP rank-and-file that victory in the city was like winning all of Turkey. Asked about the AKP’s challenge on Tuesday, a US State Department spokesman urged parties to accept election results. “I would say that free and fair elections are essential to any democracy and this means acceptance of legitimate election results are essential. And we expect nothing less from Turkey,” deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a briefing. Turkey’s presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun responded, urging “all parties, including foreign governments, to respect the legal process and refrain from taking any steps that may be construed as meddling in Turkey’s internal affairs,” Anadolu reported. Ties between NATO allies United States and Turkey have been frayed recently by several differences, including Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile system, a deal for US-made F-35 fighters and disagreements over US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria’s war. Some pro-government newspapers on Wednesday branded the Istanbul defeat an as electoral “coup” similar to the failed coup Erdogan survived in 2016. That bid was blamed by Turkish officials on a US-based Muslim preacher, Fethullah Gulen.last_img read more

What Wouldve Happened If Nobody Had Gotten Hurt in the NBA This

When Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls’ dervish of a point guard, went down in the 11th game this season, it was the 2012-2013 season all over again. Rose sat out that entire season recovering from a torn ACL and watched his team finish 45-37 and put up a fight against the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs. This season was supposed to be different — and now it wasn’t going to be at all.Something else wasn’t different: The Bulls managed to finish above .500 without Rose yet again. That was for a whole host of reasons: the remarkable play of center Joakim Noah, the stellar coaching of Tom Thibodeau and an Eastern conference filled with chum, among others. But Chicago’s record this year also indicates that an injury — even of a star player — doesn’t always ruin a team’s regular season as much as we think it might. Sometimes the replacements are better than replacement level. And sometimes they just don’t swing that many games.The Bulls’ record without Rose is just one anecdote, but this was a busy year for injuries in the NBA. Together, the league’s athletes missed more than 4,900 games to injury, the highest total since the 2008-09 season. Eighteen teams saw more games missed due to player injury than the prior season.For the last two years, I’ve kept a database of every injury in the NBA — what the injury was, who suffered it, how many games he missed, etc. (Odd hobby, I know, but this is what happens when you’re an injury analyst.) The database includes every game missed since the 2008-09 season and includes more than 850 players. After watching such an entertaining yet injury-riddled season this year, I started wondering if that database could tell us whether and how the results would have changed if every player in the league had stayed healthy. Like, really healthy. So healthy that there wasn’t a single injury. Who makes the playoffs then?To create this alternate universe, I put my database to work, simulating an entire season in which games missed because of injury were excluded.1Games missed for personal reasons or suspensions were retained. That meant approximating who took the place of the injured players, using injury listings and minute distributions2I went through every team and tabulated each player’s starter minutes versus bench minutes, and how those minutes changed after injury, when I could. to calculate a total number of minutes played for each player on a team’s roster. An important note: My method only tabulates when players play or don’t play; it doesn’t try to understand how a player’s value is affected if he’s playing through an injury.Then, with FiveThirtyEight’s help, I assigned each player a talent rating using Daniel Myers’s ASPM, a box-score-based performance metric that does the best job of telling us how hypothetical universes play out.3The FiveThirtyEight crew used an ASPM aging curve and came up with “talent” ratings for each player based on an age-adjusted weighted average of his performance this season and over the previous two seasons. Once we weighted those talent ratings by the estimate of minutes played, we had a sense of how good each team would be with all of its players. From there, we simulated a whole new season using the 2013-14 NBA schedule, and compared the injury-free hypothetical reality to the actual season.All that left us with what could have been, but almost certainly can never be. As you read the divisional breakdowns below, it’s important to remember that this alternate reality is not a glimpse into how a team would have improved or regressed if it never had to play a replacement player. Instead, it’s a holistic portrait of what would have happened to an entire league if no player missed time due to injury. You’ll see that some teams have worse records in the injury-free space (the New York Knicks, the Detroit Pistons, etc.), which might make you think their replacements were in fact better than their starters, even if the starters were healthy. But it’s really because in our alternate reality these teams don’t improve as much as other teams in the league, leading to more losses against full-strength opponents.With all that preamble out of the way, here’s what an injury-free league looks like in each division, and in the overall playoff picture.Eastern ConferenceIt’s easier to make a surprising run to the top of your division when you’re the healthiest team in the league, as the Toronto Raptors were this season. If the Brooklyn Nets’ center Brook Lopez hadn’t fractured his right foot’s fifth metatarsal and forwards Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko hadn’t succumbed to back spasms that cost them a combined 45 games, the simulation predicts a healthy Nets team would have flirted with 50 wins. That increases their win total by four games, placing them first in the division. In real life, injuries overextended the minutes of veterans Garnett and Paul Pierce and increased the responsibilities of role players like Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic.Not even a clean bill of health rescues the other teams in the division. The New York Knicks get worse in our alternate reality, not helped by their power forward Andrea Bargnani making up the 40 games he missed. Same for the Boston Celtics and their point guard Rajon Rondo. And the Philadelphia 76ers are hopeless no matter what: Rookie Nerlens Noel4In our simulation, rookies who never played were assigned league-average quality ratings. and shooting guard Jason Richardson, along with several other players, aren’t enough to keep them from finishing with the league’s second-worst record.Not even a healthy Derrick Rose stops the Indiana Pacers’ march to the top of the Central Division. The Bulls’ worse record in our alternate universe doesn’t mean the Bulls would be worse with Rose, but more likely that the rest of the league gets even more of a full-strength bump than Chicago does, leading to 1.6 more losses for the Bulls.The biggest drop in the division comes for the Detroit Pistons, who were the 11th-healthiest team in the league, with players missing 128 games overall. Despite their health, the Pistons still couldn’t win 30 games, and they fare even worse once the rest of the league is healthy, losing 3.5 more games in the simulation. The Milwaukee Bucks were the Eastern Conference team most handicapped by injury this season, with their players missing 318 games, but they gain only an extra 2.7 wins in the simulation. That suggests their roster was never that competitive to begin with. And Cleveland, despite adding 31 games from shooting guard C.J. Miles in the simulation, only records a slight uptick, winning a bit more than an extra game.The Southeast remains the most competitive division in the Eastern Conference when injuries are excluded, but with an even denser grouping among its middle three teams. The team at the top of the division, the Miami Heat, distances itself thanks in part to a healthy Dwyane Wade. Wade’s 28 recovered games help net Miami 4.2 more wins, propelling the Heat to the top of the division and the conference.The middle three teams — Washington, Atlanta, and Charlotte — all clump together, with Atlanta winning an extra game thanks in part to a boost from the return of center Al Horford (53 games missed). Washington and Charlotte, meanwhile, dip. A never-absent Nene doesn’t help Washington much, since in reality the Wizards went 12-9 during the 21 games he wasn’t on the court. Charlotte was the team that most took advantage of an injury-filled NBA, finishing 5.8 wins above its record in the injury-free reality, so some regression to the mean is expected. And the Magic, well, the Magic aren’t notable in either reality.Western ConferenceThe San Antonio Spurs remain the best team in the league, but with a franchise-record breaking 65.7 wins, 3.7 more than they actually had during the regular season. That’s what happens when you get an extra 44 combined games from Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.Houston’s five-man starting unit finished ninth in most minutes played together this season, so it’s not surprising that the Rockets are unaffected by an injury-neutral schedule. The majority of Houston’s injuries occurred to bench players, and a few more games from backup center Omer Asik don’t move the needle.Despite an additional 23 games from a healthy Marc Gasol, Memphis’s record drops a bit, with the Grizzlies losing 3.4 more games than they did in reality. Perhaps it’s because the teams they faced during Gasol’s absence were in poor health, including a James Harden-less Rockets squad, a Brooklyn team without Deron Williams, a New Orleans Pelicans team missing Anthony Davis and a Bulls team lacking Rose. Memphis’s play may improve with Gasol in the lineup (the Grizzlies went 10-13 while he was out) but so, too, do the rosters of the teams they face. That drops them below the Dallas Mavericks, who lose ground (2.2 games) but less of it than Memphis. At the bottom of the division, the New Orleans Pelicans gain the second-most games in the league (5.1), with the help of a full season from Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday, a trio that, in reality, played just 15 games together.At the top of the Northwest Division, the Oklahoma City Thunder only get better, winning 3.6 more games with the help of a healthy Russell Westbrook, who missed 36 games this season. Those extra games help put more distance between the Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers, who decline as the league gets healthier. Only Indiana’s starters played more minutes together this season than the Blazers’ starting five.The majority of Minnesota’s injuries didn’t occur until the final weeks of the season and didn’t have a major impact on the Timberwolves’ overall finish. But the team directly behind them in the standings can use injuries as a legitimate excuse for failing to meet expectations. Denver lost more than 130 games to three separate ACL tears, including 82 games from starting small forward Danilo Gallinari. Combine those games with Javale McGee’s tibia fracture and it’s easy to see why the Nuggets finished as the NBA team most affected by injuries. They win 5.4 more games in our injury-free utopia.The Utah Jazz are bad in all realities. The team ranked as one of the healthiest in the league, and it seems the Jazz likely picked up a few wins due to other teams’ injuries — wins that fall away in our simulation.The Los Angeles Clippers remain the elite team in the Pacific and improve their record by two wins with an extra 20 games from Chris Paul. Two wins may seem like a small shift for the return of a player as good as Paul, but the Clippers played well without him (earning a .650 winning percentage), blunting the effects of his loss.Like Portland, Golden State’s starting unit remained largely unscathed for most of the year, which knocks 2.4 wins off their total once the rest of the league becomes as healthy as they were. South 350 miles, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered through a nightmare season, losing player after player to injury with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol (who combined to miss 165 games) and others sitting for significant stretches throughout the year. Yet removing these injuries doesn’t do much for the Lakers’ playoff push. It helps them pass Sacramento in the standings, but they only win 3.7 more games with all their players.The real surprise is in Phoenix, not because the Suns’ record changes much (they gain only 0.1 wins), but because the rest of the league changes just enough that the Suns make the playoffs in an injury-free simulation. The Grizzlies are suddenly left out of the playoff picture, finishing .003 percentage points behind the Mavs for the eighth playoff spot.The Suns are the only team to make the playoffs in the injury-free reality that didn’t in the actual season we just watched. Without injuries, playoff seedings change — it’s Miami, not Indiana that has home court advantage in the East — and as bad as the Eastern Conference was, it’s even worse once the whole league is at full strength. But all in all, very little is different.For the endless talk about how injuries changed the game this season, if the entire league were healthy, the NBA would still look more or less like the NBA as we saw it. It’d just be a bit more entertaining. read more

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