In NHL Playoffs Plan For a Quick Overtime

As the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings were locked in an epic double-overtime struggle Wednesday night, I wondered about the likelihood of such a prolonged NHL battle. What are the odds of an OT playoff game ending after a given number of minutes had elapsed?I dug into Hockey-Reference.com’s Game Finder tool (using goalie minutes to determine how long a game lasted) and gathered the numbers on all playoff games that went into sudden-death mode since 1988. Here are the results over that span, tracing the probability that a game will have ended by the time a certain duration into OT is achieved:Of course, the thrilling end-to-end playing style of Wednesday’s game would seem to make goal-scoring more likely, thereby increasing the chance of the game concluding earlier. To that end, I speculated that the amount of total scoring by both teams through the end of regulation might clue us in to the overall offensive environment of the game, and therefore play a role in whether “death” would come more or less suddenly.That hypothesis is true, although the difference is fairly small. The red curve in the chart above represents games where the total number of regulation goals by both teams was six or greater; the blue curve represents games with four or fewer combined goals in regulation. That the red line is higher than the blue for most of the chart means that, at a given number of elapsed minutes of overtime, a higher-scoring game was more likely to have ended than a lower-scoring one. (This isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s still interesting to prove it with data.) Whichever type of overtime game we’re watching, though, there’s a better than 50-50 chance that it will end less than 10 minutes into the extra frame, and more than a 75 percent probability it will end before double OT.And that’s another sense in which Wednesday’s Blackhawks-Kings game was a rare treat. Based on history, there was only about a 17 percent chance that an OT game between two teams that had been high-scoring in regulation would last 22 minutes before someone scored. It was exciting, unlikely extra hockey, and hopefully we see even more drama in Game 6 on Friday night. read more

Hot Takedown for March 24 2015 Vintage Michigan State Fixing The Womens

More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code Links to what we discuss in this week’s show:FiveThirtyEight’s continually updated March Madness predictions.Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball ratings.FiveThirtyEight’s ongoing March Madness reporting.Michigan State’s historical SRS ratings.The “white paper” prepared by Val Ackerman on the state of women’s college basketball.How the Celtics are trying to balance the middle ground between tanking and greatness.New Zealand reaches the Cricket World Cup final for the first time. Welcome to this week’s episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. This week, we discuss the first weekend of March Madness and why Tom Izzo’s Michigan State teams always seem to beat expectations; whether the Princeton women, even in defeat, showed that they were criminally under-seeded; the rumors that the Oklahoma City Thunder may trade Kevin Durant before he bolts through free agency; and what it would take for cricket to go mainstream in the U.S.Stream the episode by clicking play above, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients below. By Chadwick Matlin, Kate Fagan, Neil Paine and Jody Avirgan If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong.CORRECTION (March 25, 12:14 p.m.): In this week’s podcast, we incorrectly said the Cricket World Cup uses the T20 format for matches. It uses the typical One Day International format, which gives each side 50 overs. That is still much shorter than the traditional “test” matches, but longer than T20, in which each side gets 20 overs. read more

Lance Armstrong to Admit Drug Use to Oprah

Lance Armstrong plans to admit to doping throughout his career during an upcoming interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, USA Today reported late Friday.The interview, scheduled to be taped Monday and broadcast Thursday night on the Oprah Winfrey Network, will be conducted at Armstrong’s home in Austin, Texas.Citing an anonymous source, USA Today reported that the disgraced cyclist plans to admit to using performance-enhancing drugs, but likely will not get into details of the allegations outlined in a 2012 report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The report led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from the sport.Armstrong representatives, including his attorney Tim Herman, declined comment. The New York Times first reported last week that Armstrong was considering making a confession.Armstrong, 41, who vehemently denied doping for years, has not spoken publicly about the USADA report that cast him as the leader of a sophisticated and brazen doping program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included use of steroids, blood boosters and illegal blood transfusions.Winfrey’s network announced Tuesday that Armstrong agreed to a “no holds barred” interview with her.A confession to Winfrey would come at a time when some of Armstrong’s legal troubles appear to be clearing up.Any potential perjury charges stemming from his sworn testimony denying doping in a 2005 arbitration fight with a Dallas promotions company over a contract bonus worth $7.5 million have passed the statute of limitations.Armstrong faces a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis accusing him of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, but the U.S. Department of Justice has yet to announce whether it will join the case. The British newspaper The Sunday Times is suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit.Armstrong lost most of his personal sponsorship — worth tens of millions of dollars — after USADA issued its report, and he left the board of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997. He is said to still be worth an estimated $100 million.Livestrong might be one reason to issue an apology or make a confession. The charity supports cancer patients and faces an image problem because of its association with its famous founder.The New York Times reported Armstrong might make a confession in an attempt to return to competition in elite triathlon or running events, but World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what new information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation.Armstrong met with USADA officials recently to explore a “pathway to redemption,” according to a report by “60 Minutes Sports” aired Wednesday on Showtime. read more

Tiger Woods Up 2 Shots at Doral After Shooting

TIger Woods put on another masterful putting display Friday, helping him shoot a 65 and earn a two-shot lead going into the weekend in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.Woods, who has won three times at Doral and has captured this World Golf Championship event six times, gave himself numerous chances with a solid ballstriking round in which he barely missed a green.His 7-under 65 gave him a two-shot lead over 2010 U.S. Open champion Graem McDowell and a three-shot lead over Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker, his buddy who gave him putting tips that Woods attributes to his solid play with the flat stick so far.Woods has won 26 -of-31 times when he has the outright 36-hole lead in his PGA Tour career.On Wednesday, Stricker gave Woods some advice during a 45-minute session on the practice green, one that has led to two days of exceptional work.“I’ve always liked the way he putts it,” Stricker said. “We’ve talked a lot about it over the years. We have the same ideas, although we do different things to get it there. We have the same principles. He’s open to hearing what I have to say sometimes.”This time, it worked, as Woods made nine birdies Thursday and added eight more Friday. He has had 22 one-putt greens in the tournament, and on Friday he hit 15-of-18 greens in regulation.For a time, it appeared Mickelson would play his way into a third-round pairing with Woods, reprising their epic 2005 final-round duel here in which Woods prevailed by a stroke to regain the No. 1 world ranking.But McDowell had other ideas, birdieing his last two holes for a 67.“I saw Phil sneaking up the leaderboard there behind me, and I said to (caddie) Kenny (Comboy), ‘Let’s spoil this party tomorrow,’ ” McDowell said. “I’m sure they would have liked Tiger and Phil in the last group tomorrow, would have been great for the tournament, but I certainly will enjoy the position of being in the last group and the mix. That’s right where I want to be.“Great to see the best players in the game playing as well as they are. Always exciting to have Tiger and Phil playing well. It brings the crowds and puts people behind their TV screens, and that’s what’s important.”Mickelson has shot 67-67 after an early-week visit to Augusta National to scout the Masters venue.“I saw Tiger was playing well and I wanted to make a couple birdies to get in the group with him,” Mickelson said. “It seems since 2007, when we played at Deutsche Bank in Boston, I’ve been playing some of my best golf when we get paired together.“I hope that tomorrow that I play a good round and so does he, and we get a chance to get paired together in Sunday’s final round, because he seems to somehow bring out my best golf.” read more

76ers Name 39YearOld Elton Brand As Its New General

Philadelphia 76ers incoming general manager Elton Brand speaks at the NBA basketball team’s practice facility in Camden, N.J., Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Only two years out of the NBA, Elton Brand is set to return to the league as a 39-year-old general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.For a franchise that underwent the painful “Process” for a few seasons and had its last GM caught up in a Twitter scandal, a youth movement in the front office could be what the Sixers need to take the next step into Eastern Conference contention.Brand is ready to help lead the way.“I’m going to rely on my team,” Brand said. “Not just on the court, but the off-the-court team. I can’t keep saying it enough. In my opinion, we are one of the top groups in the NBA.”Brand was introduced Thursday at the Sixers complex as the new GM, and it was made clear the two-time All-Star will not yield the power to make the final decisions, but rather work in concert with coach Brett Brown and the rest of the front office.“The 76ers are on the cusp of something very special and the next 12 months are really important,” Brand said. “I think that’s why I was the leading candidate, to bring stability to the organization and this group that I know really well.”Brand had worked for the Sixers as vice president of operations and was the general manager of the Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ G League affiliate.Sixers owner Josh Harris said Brand emerged from a list of at least 10 candidates as the right choice to steady a franchise rocked by Bryan Colangelo’s sudden departure. Colangelo resigned in June as the 76ers’ president of basketball operations after what an investigation concluded was “careless and in some instances reckless” sharing of sensitive team information on Twitter.“I’ll lead with honesty, integrity,” Brand said.Brown had assumed interim GM duties but wanted no part of holding the job full time. But he will work as Brand’s partner in key decisions the franchise faces coming off a 52-win season.“Coach and I are aligned,” Brand said. “Teams that have won in the NBA, the GM, the coach have to get along. He’s going to have the players. But when it comes to trades, draft process, I’m running that. That’s what I’ve been hired for. Final say? Coach is going to have a voice in it.”Brand played in 1,058 career games over 18 seasons with the Bulls, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Atlanta and two stints with the Sixers. He posted career averages of 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game.A two-time All-Star and the 2000 co-rookie of the year, Brand was also the recipient of the 2005-06 Joe Dumars Trophy, presented each season to the player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.“I think we’re at a new point in our team’s development into hopefully an NBA championship,” Harris said. “We need to be attracting talent here. Certainly, Elton’s image and who he is as a person were real positives. But leadership and managerial skills and the things you’ve got to do in the front office that aren’t just about image, he’s got those, too. But certainly, that was a huge positive.”Brand said it’s fair to question his inexperience as he skyrocketed through the organization from the G League to GM. But it’s a job he’s ready to handle.“I’ll take the hits,” he said. “When there’s decisions made on the basketball side, I’m taking the hits.”Alex Rucker was promoted to executive vice president of basketball operations. Ned Cohen will remain assistant general manager and Marc Eversley will stay as senior vice president of player personnel.The Sixers beat Miami in the first round of the playoffs before they were eliminated in the conference semifinals by Boston. Under Brown’s watch, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have blossomed into two of the top young players in the league.Embiid and Markelle Fultz were among the players who attended Brand’s press conference.The Sixers were stunned when an independent review found that Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, operated four Twitter accounts. She admitted using private information to criticize the Sixers and rival colleagues.Brand, the fourth black GM in the NBA, is ready for the Sixers to put the offseason mess behind them and make a jump in the East.“This is a special team, an incredible opportunity, and we will lead a disciplined and determined path to building a championship organization,” he said. read more

Can The NBA AllStar Game Be Fixed

Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed By Neil Paine, Kyle Wagner and Nate Silver Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Feb. 15, 2018), FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver is back to help break down the latest in the NBA with Neil and Kyle. First, the Utah Jazz are on an 11-game winning streak. The crew takes a look at what’s going right for the Jazz — and how it might come to a halt. Next, the All-Star Game is nearly here, and The Lab’s members are taking it to the lab: keeping what they like, cutting what they don’t and throwing out some crazy ideas (8-year-olds choosing teams! one-on-ones!) that might make watching it more enjoyable. Plus, a small-sample-size segment on the new Cleveland Cavaliers.Here are links to what was discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote about what’s real and what’s not for the Utah Jazz.To get in on the All-Star Game fun, you can draft your own team.ESPN’s Dave McMenamin goes inside the new Cavaliers team. read more

How Isaiah Thomas The Shortest Guy In The NBA Became Unstoppable

Just when we thought we’d seen all Isaiah Thomas could do, the diminutive Celtics star found yet another level Tuesday, scoring 53 on his late sister’s birthday to give Boston a 2-0 second-round series lead over the Wizards.The million-dollar question: How? How does a guy who’s 5-foot-9, who nearly averaged 29 points per game during the regular season, continue to wreck defenses so mightily in a playoff setting when defenses are hellbent on neutralizing him?The simple answer is that Thomas and his coaching staff have found ways to make Thomas virtually unguardable within Boston’s offensive scheme; especially since Brad Stevens tweaked his lineup in the middle of the first round, a move that gave Thomas more space to navigate.Stevens all but eliminated Amir Johnson from the rotation, meaning Al Horford is now soaking up a ton of minutes as the team’s lone post player on the court. That switch forces defenses to guard an extra Celtic along the perimeter, which is already a tough task, since Horford is also a good shooter. With opponents stretched that thin, Thomas can make use of his game-changing quickness.That’s especially the case in handoff scenarios, where the floor general can generate a full head of steam while his man is trying to play catch-up from behind. Thomas took more handoffs than any other player in the NBA this past regular season, with 216 plays of this nature according to Synergy Sports. And he’s only gotten better at them in the last few weeks. He has scored on 56 percent of his handoffs since the playoffs began, up from 47 percent during the season. (This would’ve been the NBA’s highest mark during the regular season among players with at least 100 handoffs.)Having Horford as the lone Celtics big helps Thomas’s handoff game immensely. Thomas — the league’s most-blocked player — has been able to get his shots off more cleanly with fewer players in the paint.1Thomas’s shots have only been blocked 6 percent of the time with Horford on the court and Johnson off; he’s been blocked 13 percent of the time when Horford and Johnson are on the floor together, according to NBA Wowy, which tracks advanced statistics across different lineup groupings. What’s more, Thomas’s newfound space has left defenders without a clear way to defend him.After receiving a handoff, he’s a nightmare on the perimeter because of all the different options he has at his disposal. Watch how reluctant Wizards star John Wall is to chase Thomas around the screen here. He doesn’t want to risk barreling into Thomas, who is one of the league’s best players at stopping abruptly once he’s turned the corner in order to draw a 3-point shooting foul.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/thomasoffahandoff.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.In the paint, Washington’s bigs have been just as concerned about how to play Thomas. Stand too far back, and you risk Thomas scoring from midrange, where he is an effective, albeit inconsistent2Thomas’s successful midrange attempts, on average, had far less arc on them than his midrange misses this past season. The 1.03 foot difference was the widest disparity in the NBA among players who took at least 100 midrange shots, according to an analysis run by SportVU at FiveThirtyEight’s request. shooter. Play too far up, and he’ll use a burst of quickness to beat you to the rim, where he’s armed with an array of twists and tricks that help him compensate for his lack of height.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/thomasoffhandoff2.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ithandoff3.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Trapping Thomas with two defenders as he comes around screens is one option for opposing defenses. But Stevens’s lineup switch, which has the Celtics looking more like the Houston Rockets because of how many threes they’re taking, makes that option a more dangerous choice because an unguarded Celtic shooter is now more likely to be found on the perimeter.All of which helps explain why the Wizards have had no answer for how to guard the shortest man on the court. That Thomas is really good also helps. read more

What Happened To All Those Absurd NBA Stat Lines

More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Jan. 4, 2018), Neil, Chris and Kyle discuss Isaiah Thomas’s debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers after recovering from a hip injury he sustained last season. Next, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors is putting up ridiculous numbers this season — but he’s one of the only ones. After a 2016-17 season that saw blowout wins and notable individual performances, this season is off to a much less explosive start. What happened to those absurd stat lines? We investigate. Plus, a small-sample-size segment on Andre Drummond.Here are links to what was discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.Deadspin’s Lauren Theisen noted that it seems DeMar DeRozan can shoot threes now.Last year, Neil took a look at the league’s crazy stat lines. read more

Were Not Overreacting After Week 1 In The NFL

Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season is in the books, and you know what they say: The more things change, the more yada yada yada, you get it. The New England Patriots won. The Cleveland Browns lost. And Patrick Mahomes is really good. This week on Hot Takedown, we temper the wild overreactions after the games in Week 1 and take a look at what, if anything, can really be seen as trends for the rest of the season.Since the Antonio Brown story won’t go away, we also discuss what his move to the Patriots could mean for him and for the league in this new era of “player empowerment.” And on a similar note, we try to parse out what in the world is really going on with the Miami Dolphins franchise.Our Rabbit Hole this week comes from our sports intern, Ari Levin, who took a look at former Florida Marlins player Wes Helms and his unfortunate propensity to strike out when the game was on the line.What we’re looking at this week:Our 2019 NFL predictions, now with quarterback-adjusted Elo forecasts.A look back at just how terrible the Cleveland Browns have been.A preview of the WNBA playoffs starting this week. Embed Code FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed read more