It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for another edition of FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings. The least you need to know about how these numbers work: Each team is ranked according to a projection of its strength over the upcoming week — and the upcoming week only — using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. For more details on the ratings, see our introductory rankings post.(Note: These ratings were calculated before news broke that Chicago’s Jimmy Butler would miss three to six weeks with an elbow injury. Butler carried a strong +3.2 RPM rating, so replacing his 26 minutes per game with a replacement-level player would drop the Bulls from 11th place to a tie for 19th with the Pistons. Chicago’s saving grace might be that the average player below Butler on the team’s depth chart is significantly better than replacement level, but there’s no doubt that this news reduces the Bulls’ rating.)Some observations about the rankings this week:The Oklahoma City Thunder climbed more in the rankings from last week than any other team, leaping from No. 13 to No. 6. The biggest reason? The expectation that Kevin Durant will return in some capacity this week, even if in reduced minutes, was worth 1.7 points per 100 possessions to OKC’s overall rating. The ripple effects of Durant’s return extend beyond his own increased minutes. Our playing-time projections also see Dion Waiters (whose extremely negative RPM falls below the replacement level) getting fewer minutes on the wing — a boon of 0.8 points/100 to the Thunder’s rating. More minutes may also go to plus-minus darling Andre Roberson,1Relative to other metrics at least; from his awful 9.9 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), you wouldn’t expect his RPM to be a strong +2.4. and fewer minutes will go to guard D.J. Augustin, an additional 0.6 point boost for OKC’s rating. The mix of very good and very poor players on the Thunder roster makes the team a great case study in how much effect playing-time reshuffling can have on a team’s overall talent rating.The Atlanta Hawks dropped four spots in this week’s rankings, largely because Al Horford (+2.3 RPM rating), Jeff Teague (+1.3), DeMarre Carroll (+1.2) and Pero Antic (+0.8) are all listed as day-to-day in the team’s injury report. Those slight playing-time downgrades gave more minutes to a host of negative RPM players; chief among them are Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore.Joining the Hawks with a four-slot decline this week are the Toronto Raptors. More than half of Toronto’s 1.8 point ratings drop is driven by an injury to Kyle Lowry — and the resulting uptick in playing time for the man behind him on the team’s point guard depth chart, Lou Williams. Williams’s box-score numbers are very good, and Toronto has played much better with him on the court this season. But Real Plus-Minus isn’t convinced despite his great 2014-15 season to date. His long-term predictive RPM is currently -1.9 — with a -3.6 defensive mark — numbers only slightly improved from his -2.0/-3.7 ratings from the end of last season.For all the changes just outside the league’s top tier — in addition to the rise of OKC and declines of Atlanta and Toronto, the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets both moved up a pair of spots — the top four in our rankings stayed constant. This marks the first time that’s been true since we introduced the rankings in mid-January.With Oklahoma City’s gains, the Western Conference playoff picture is all but set. Seven teams have postseason probabilities in excess of 97 percent, and the Thunder don’t sit too far behind, at 92.7 percent. As for the East, it boasts six teams with playoff odds of 99.6 percent or greater, although there’s some drama to be had with six teams battling for the conference’s final two playoff berths. The Indiana Pacers have the inside track for one of the slots, with a 62.7 percent playoff probability, but none of the five teams behind them are any more than 40.2 percent likely to qualify, which ought to bring at least some tension to the final month and a half of the season.Related to the previous point, it’s worth mentioning that the Utah Jazz have a zero percent probability of making the playoffs despite ranking 12th in talent. What happened? Utah’s record has undershot its Pythagorean expectation by three wins, but the team has also improved its talent rating recently (granted, by too little and too late) by jettisoning Enes Kanter and his -2.5 RPM in a three-team trade with Oklahoma City and the Detroit Pistons.Finally, who on earth is Joffrey Lauvergne? Our projections had the French big man down for 2.8 minutes per game for the Denver Nuggets last week, but he ended up averaging 21 minutes per game instead (and even got a starting nod against the Jazz on Friday). Denver might be toning down Lauvergne’s playing time after he shot 38 percent from the floor and posted a -36 plus-minus in that lone start, but his expected role increase — and -4.4 RPM rating — is still enough to help the Nuggets drop by five slots in the rankings. They’re still not New York Knicks bad, but after their mass talent exodus at the trade deadline, the Nuggets now bring up the rear of the non-Knicks/Philadelphia 76ers division of the power rankings.
First look at Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S Now playing: Watch this: 3:16 Gaming Culture Post a comment The new horror game is based on a smoking statistic. Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images The Food and Drug Administration is changing how it’s tackling tobacco use among teenagers. One Leaves is a free horror game for Xbox and PC designed to educate teens about smoking dangers.Part of the FDA’s The Real Cost antismoking campaign, the game targets the 12-17 age range, the group most likely to experiment with cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The game’s premise is based on the statistic that three out of every four teens who smoke in high school will continue into adulthood despite trying to quit. You wake up in a cage with three other people. An ominous voice tells you the rules: The four of you must try to escape, but only one of you will. The rest will be trapped inside forever. You can run, but only in short bursts because you have poor lung capacity.”This game is part high school, part hospital and part hell,” Gary Resch of marketing agency FCB New York said in a release Wednesday. FCB helped create the game and the Real Cost campaign. If you’re not the first to make it out, the voice gives you the bad news. “You’re trapped. Game over. Just like three out of four teens who think they’ll escape smoking — but don’t know the real cost of cigarettes,” it says. Another catch? The maze changes each time you play the game. So if there’s a way to win, it’s going to be a challenge. Popular esports gamer and Fortnite star Ninja tweeted a playthrough of the game on Tuesday. He said the game’s message was important to him because his grandfather was a heavy smoker. Share your voice Watch my playthrough of a NEW game called One Leaves! I swear it wasn’t scary at all… 😶 https://t.co/L97U4MVNOS @KnowTheRealCost #OneLeavesGame #ad— Ninja (@Ninja) March 19, 2019 The game has been available since February. Plans are in the works to make One Leaves a real-life escape room experience at this year’s Winter X Games. 0 Tags
Again missing numerous first choice starters, the Saints outplayed their opponents both with and without the ball, writes Graham Henthorne.The game started poorly for the Saints conceding a try to the home side’s first real attack. A poor last tackle kick saw the Tigers quickly on the offensive and scoring on the last from dummy half as the marker defence went to sleep.But the response of the side was wonderful and from that point on the Tigers were kept at bay.On their next set a Ryan Horne 50 metre break went begging as the support failed to materialise but a Jack Welsby grubber keenly chased as ever by Josh Simm got the saints a repeat set.Another repeat set followed causing the defence to finally crack. Jake Wingfield was held up over the line and as the ball was spread wide to the right Joe Sharratt forced his way over in the corner.The Saints were on top now charging down the slope at the Jungle forcing error after error from the Tigers.Firstly, Tom Nisbet went close down the left but lost the ball at the line before another knock on led to the Saints second try. From the scrum under the posts on the Cas 10 metre line Jack Welsby went over handing off the would be tackler.Despite all the Saints dominance it was nip and tuck going into the final ten minutes but all that pressure finally tolled yielding two tries.The first was Sharratt’s second as the big centre strolled under the posts untouched from 30 metres out taking a delightful short ball from Callum Hazzard.The second, and the Saints fourth of the half, came on the half-time whistle with Tom Nisbet stepping his way through the defence after yet another Tigers error.Knowing that the Tigers had been heavily beaten in their previous game against Widnes, it was even more evident that they would be smarting from their first half display and would come out all guns blazing in the second. So it was even more essential not to throw that advantage away by starting poorly after the interval.The game was effectively put to bed two minutes in as the U19s much maligned short kicking game again produced the goods with another repeat set from Welsby.Four tackles later and Nisbet was sending Simm into the corner.Ryan Horne showed his increasing awareness on the pitch as he shot out of defence to save a certain try. But from the resulting scrum the Tigers moved the ball quickly to the right scoring on the overlap.The game remained scoreless for the next 20 minutes with the Tigers throwing everything at the Saints disciplined defensive line to little effect.However, as the game entered the final 10 minutes the Tigers gave themselves a glimmer of hope scoring under the posts to get within two scores.But any lingering hope was soon extinguished. Hazzard missed with a penalty for holding down but won a repeat set having kicked it dead.The Saints showed maturity driving the ball to the Cas posts before Welsby coolly slotted the drop goal from 30 metres out.The final act of the game saw Simm go over benefitting from his own hack and chase to get yet another repeat set.Make no mistake this was a good Castleford side which was made to look average by a great Saints display.Completion rates of 90% in both halves were the cornerstones of the dominance.Big minutes from Brandon Scully and Ben Sims off the bench backed up the good work of Jorge Lewtas and Sam Royle.Paul Nash and Jake Wingfield gave good direction from dummy half, coupled with yet another good performance from Ryan Horne giving Jack Welsby free reign to do his thing.There was also yet another Captain’s knock from Callum Hazzard again leading by example.Match Summary:Castleford U19s: Tries: Jacques O’Neill (4), Lewis Carr (50), Eddie Wilcock (69). Goals: Harry Williams 2 from 3.Saints U19s: Tries: Joe Sharratt (11 & 32), Jack Welsby (24), Tom Nisbett (39), Josh Simm (42 & 79). Goals: Callum Hazzard 5 from 6. Drop Goals: Jack Welsby (75).Half Time: 6-22 Full Time: 16-35Teams:Castleford: 1. Calum Turner; 5. Lewis Carr, 4. Jack Render, 3. Jacob Doyle, 2. Tom Crossland; 6. Joe Fella, 7. Harry Williams; 8. Sam Dore, 9. Jacques O’Neill, 10. Shay North, 11. Robbie Storey, 12. Lewis Peachey, 13. Ben Dobson. Subs: 14. Eddie Wilcock, 15. Liam Slicker, 16. Tom Hall, 17. Evan Morris.Saints: 1. Tom Nisbet; 5. John Hutchings, 3. Joe Sharratt, 4. Josh Simm, 2. Sean Croston; 6. Jack Welsby, 7. Ryan Horne; 8. Jorge Lewtas, 9. Jake Wingfield, 10. Callum Hazzard (C), 11. Kye Siyani, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Chris Follin. Subs: 14. Paul Nash, 15. Ben Sims, 16. Brandon Scully, 17. Chris Kellett.