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Lowe on NBA Finals: Predicting who wins Lakers-Heat and why

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After much springtime bloviating, there will be no asterisk on this NBA championship. If anything, it will be more badge of honor — a mark of perseverance through isolation, mental strain, and the internal discord of performing a job in the entertainment industry while issues of social and racial justice roiled outside the Orlando bubble.

We remember some champions more than others. This champion will stand out forever.

The bubble did not produce a fluke finalist. The Los Angeles Lakers ranked among the league’s three favorites all season. The Miami Heat did not, but they have been a different team in Orlando — new starting lineup, remade identity, more powerful two-way force. They faced a slightly tougher slate of playoff opponents than the Lakers, and outscored them by 4.5 points per 100 possessions — two points fatter than their regular-season margin.

Perhaps the bubble took a larger toll on the LA Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. We will learn more as players, coaches, and staff decompress and reflect. Three key Clippers left and returned. But every team dealt with more or less the same on-the-ground realities in Orlando. Two of Miami’s regular-season starters — Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn — contracted COVID-19 during the hiatus.

The Heat are 12-3 in the playoffs, same as the Lakers. They are running roughshod over weakening teams in fourth quarters. They represent the best defense the Lakers have faced in the postseason. The Lakers and LeBron James owe no apologies for arriving on the precipice without facing the Bucks or Clippers, no matter how many implacable critics stand ready to proclaim LeBron’s potential fourth championship tarnished.

The terms of the LeBron-Michael Jordan debate shift if the Lakers win. That would also give Los Angeles 17 titles — tying the Boston Celtics for most ever. Haggle over whether five Minneapolis-era titles should “count” if you want, but record books would list the Lakers with 17. (And if we discount those five, how do we account for nine of Boston’s 17 coming from 1957 to 1966 — when the NBA featured fewer than 10 teams?)

The Heat, meanwhile, meet LeBron at the summit six years after he spurned them — a decision that enraged Pat Riley, and left Miami to pick up the pieces after planning for LeBron’s return.

The rage faded fast. There is mutual respect now, and the joy of shared past triumphs. But tension remains — perhaps something akin to the extra competitive juice you feel facing a distant sibling who has outdone you over the past half-decade.

Riley and the Heat want championships, regardless of the opposition. They won’t say it out loud, but they would surely take special satisfaction toppling James.

The bigger-picture stakes are fun, and meaningful, but they won’t decide the series. Let’s look at the X’s and O’s that will.

Who does Bam Adebayo guard?

When the Lakers shift Anthony Davis to center, the answer is easy: Adebayo guards Davis, and the Heat switch every LeBron-Davis pick-and-roll — even if doing so leaves Jimmy Butler or Jae Crowder jostling with Davis.

But despite all the clamor — including from here — for the Lakers to “go small,” there is really no statistical evidence the Lakers need to against anyone but the micro-ball Houston Rockets. The Lakers are plus-55 in 194 combined postseason minutes with the LeBron/Davis/Dwight Howard and LeBron/Davis/JaVale McGee groupings, per NBA.com. They are plus-21 in 123 minutes when LeBron and Davis play without any of Howard, McGee, or Markieff Morris. The LeBron/Morris/Davis trio — a tweener look — is a monstrous plus-38 in 68 minutes.

The Lakers will start big, and play a good chunk of the series that way. They are huge with LeBron, Davis, and a 7-foot center on the floor. It is one thing to watch it on TV, quite another to encounter all those limbs in person. Frank Vogel and the players have weaponized that size in smart ways. They can switch pick-and-rolls and double-team opposing stars — tactics they will sometimes use against Butler and Goran Dragic — knowing two fast and very large humans still lurk around the paint, ready to barricade the rim and leap at shooters.

Howard has earned the starting spot, with one caveat: He fouls a lot, and the Heat ranked No. 1 in free throw rate. Spot the Heat five extra free points per game, and you embolden an underdog.

I get the appeal in slotting Adebayo onto Davis: Put your star defender on L.A.’s star big man. Don’t overthink it. You can switch the LeBron-Davis pick-and-roll without fatal mismatches.

If the Lakers redirect their offense away from Adebayo, that means going away from Davis too — a win for Miami. We will see a lot of Adebayo on Davis — in crunch time, and when the Lakers go small.

But I can see Erik Spoelstra starting the other way: Adebayo on Howard (or McGee), Crowder on Davis. The Lakers in their bigger alignments use the LeBron-Howard/McGee pick-and-roll more than the LeBron-Davis version; Davis often spaces the floor. Having Adebayo on Howard might put him in more of L.A.’s two-man action.

It would also keep Adebayo closer to the rim, where Miami really needs him. The Heat do a good job keeping opponents out of the restricted area, but enemies who encroach shoot well: 66% in the regular season, and 64% in the playoffs, per Cleaning The Glass.

The Lakers are the league’s fiercest rim-attacking team. Almost 40% of their attempts came at the rim in the regular season, second most, and they converted a league-best 69% there.

Almost half LeBron’s postseason shots have come at the basket. He has rammed in 76% of them. He is shooting 64% on 2s overall, the best postseason mark of his storied career. The Heat should want Adebayo either near the basket, or guarding LeBron on switches late in possessions. Starting him on Howard might be the best way to accomplish that.

It also decreases the chances of Adebayo suffering early foul trouble, something the Heat cannot afford. They are a team-high plus-89 with Adebayo on the floor in the playoffs, and minus-14 when he sits.

Leaving Crowder on Howard would risk a bundle of L.A. offensive rebounds and the accompanying hacks.

The downside is obvious: Davis roasting Crowder. But Crowder is a sturdy post defender. He has a low base, and battles hard. He’s sly about fronting. He has given taller, skinnier scorers more trouble than they expected.

None are as accomplished as Davis, perhaps the best overall player of this postseason. If Davis gets rolling against Crowder — and even before he does — the Heat can send help, including from their biggest and most explosive defender in Adebayo. The Heat are fast, and connected on defense. They fly around, and rarely make mistakes.

Swarming Davis and James in the paint invites more L.A. 3s. Miami will accept that tradeoff. Only the Bucks and Toronto Raptors allowed more 3-point attempts than Miami during the regular season. That has changed some in the playoffs — probably due to Miami going smaller — but the Heat still defend from the rim out. Elite shooting teams can wobble that structure. The Lakers are not such a team. They attempt relatively few 3s and have hit them at about a league-average rate.

How do the Lakers deal with Miami’s zone?

Boston solved Miami’s zone by the end of the conference finals. The Heat have allowed 1.1 points per possession when playing zone — around the league’s overall postseason scoring average, per Second Spectrum. The zone has worked for stretches, but it has been demystified.

The Lakers studied Boston’s counters, and have answers Boston did not. James and Davis can hurt the zone from the middle as passers and scorers. Give them a quarter-step advantage there, and they are on the rim. Davis, McGee, and Howard are lob threats in dead zones along the baseline. Zones are vulnerable to offensive rebounding; the Lakers have gobbled offensive boards all season.

The Lakers have the second-worst turnover rate in the playoffs, and Miami’s zone has wrenched away lots of steals. The Lakers need to be careful.

After posting a (slightly) below-average mark in the regular season, the Lakers in the playoffs have scored more than one point per possession in their half-court offense — second among postseason teams, and tops among those who advanced beyond the first round, per Cleaning The Glass. They have gotten enough 3-point shooting, including some from unlikely sources; Rondo and Morris are 30-of-68 combined from deep in the playoffs.

What happens if they regress? Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have hit 39% combined; expecting more might be unreasonable. Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso have struggled all season.

The Heat are disciplined in transition defense — a must against the Lakers’ fast-breaking, touchdown-passing machine. They are going to make L.A. grind this out. A few cold-shooting games from the Lakers, and the Heat could be in business.

How do the Lakers defend Bam?

LeBron figures to guard Butler a lot. The Lakers can probably switch the Butler-Adebayo two-man game, even when their centers start off defending Adebayo. (The Lakers have prided themselves on not switching, but top postseason offenses demand flexibility.) LeBron can hold up against Adebayo; L.A.’s centers can back off Butler, and dare him to shoot long 2s or drive into them. They just have to stay down on Butler’s pump fake — easier said than done.

LeBron will dart under some screens for Butler, and flash back into Butler’s shooting window.

The Lakers can also defend traditionally: Have Howard drop back to corral Butler, and bank on the three defenders behind the play — including Davis — rotating and smothering Miami’s shooters.

The Lakers have to be on high alert for Butler to reject screens, and slice the other direction. Few ball handlers do that more, per Second Spectrum.

Green will guard Butler some, though that forces LeBron to chase Dragic or Duncan Robinson when the starting lineups face off. (LeBron defended Robinson a bit in the regular season, and can bulldoze Robinson after stops if Miami doesn’t extricate itself out of that matchup.)

When Davis plays center, he will guard Adebayo — allowing the Lakers to switch more if they like. Davis could in theory start games on Adebayo, leaving Howard to chase Crowder, but I’m not sure that contortion is worth it.

It was the Dragic-Adebayo pick-and-roll that tore apart Boston. That is tougher to switch; Adebayo can hurt the Lakers’ guards with post-ups and offensive boards. (Among Adebayo’s glowing playoff stats, don’t sleep on him draining 82% from the line after shooting 69% in the regular season. That is a big deal considering how often he finds himself in scrums.)

If the Lakers do switch a guard onto Adebayo, they could have LeBron or Davis rescue that guy with a second switch on the fly. LeBron is really good at that. Having so many players moving around opens windows — dangerous against a team with shooting — but the Lakers are big, fast, and adept at slamming those windows shut.

The Lakers could stick LeBron on Dragic late in close games to switch more smoothly, but that means someone else has to guard Butler. Green can hang. Maybe Kuzma can. Butler has bullied Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers have tried Caruso on Butler; Caruso backs down from no one.

The Lakers could keep it simple against the Dragic-Adebayo action: hang back, help from the outside if required, and coax Dragic into contested floaters. The Heat station Robinson on the weak side to discourage normal help rotations; teams are paranoid about giving Robinson any airspace. Miami synchronizes some Robinson off-ball action on one side with a pick-and-roll on the other to further distract help defenders.

But the Lakers are a high-IQ team. If they have to help from unconventional places, they’ll figure that out. LeBron and Davis are big and fast enough to lunge off Robinson and recover:

Davis has the quicks and anticipation to stick with Adebayo’s hard slips to the rim.

The Lakers are better equipped than Boston to switch the Dragic-Butler pick-and-roll; they will live with Caldwell-Pope switching onto Butler in that circumstance. They can trap late in the shot clock, as they did against James Harden, using time as an extra defender.

That other part of Miami’s offense

You still have to contend with Robinson and Herro sling-shotting off Adebayo picks — and into catch-and-shoot 3s. Most centers are wary leaping out to contest 30 feet from the rim. When they do, Robinson and Herro slip passes to Adebayo — who then orchestrates a vicious 4-on-3.

The Lakers’ centers have been smart about lurching and swiping at Robinson to buy their teammates’ time — and then moonwalking back to Adebayo.

If Davis is playing center, he can switch in a pinch. Robinson and Herro will get theirs, anyway. It is exhausting guarding them.

LeBron will go guard hunting

Dragic, Robinson, and Herro need to steel themselves for LeBron dragging them into one pick-and-roll after another. Switch, and it’s a crisis; LeBron is feasting at the basket unless Miami sends a double-team.

Miami will mix coverages to try to keep LeBron off-balance. The Heat might trap high on the floor, and force the Lakers to pass their way into a good shot. They might switch, and then trap LeBron late in the shot clock — if he allows any time for that. They’ll play zone to protect their weakest defenders. They might even scoot under screens, and see if LeBron takes the bait. (LeBron is shooting 24% on long 2s in the playoffs, but the Heat are in trouble if his run of jumpers to eliminate Denver signaled a resurgence.)

The Lakers can spring off-ball actions designed to generate mismatches for James and Davis:

Does Miami tweak its rotation?

The Heat can’t get much smaller than the Butler-Crowder-Adebayo trio against the biggest L.A. lineups. Could we see the return of the double-big look? The Adebayo-Kelly Olynyk duo treaded water during the regular season, but Olynyk doesn’t really play like a big in ways that matter in this matchup — rebounding and interior defense.

Meyers Leonard relishes full-contact boxouts. Does Spoelstra dust off the Leonard-Adebayo combo that started pre-bubble?

Miami has also tried Derrick Jones Jr. against LeBron, Davis, and even the Lakers’ centers. I bet he gets a shot in this series. The Heat could even use him as backup center when Adebayo rests. That role went mostly to Olynyk before Spoelstra dispensed with non-Bam bigs against Boston, and it will be interesting to see if Olynyk carves out a role here. LeBron will attack Olynyk every chance he gets; if Miami uses Olynyk, it might have to be when LeBron rests. (Interestingly, Adebayo and LeBron rest around the same times.) The Jones-Olynyk frontcourt was effective in the first round against the Indiana Pacers.

Andre Iguodala has a ton of experience guarding LeBron. The Heat closed Games 4 and 6 against Boston with the Butler-Iguodala-Adebayo frontcourt. That is fine against Davis-at-center lineups; can it hold up against bigger ones? Is Solomon Hill really an answer?

Any increase in minutes for Jones or Iguodala alongside Butler/Adebayo means playing three non-threats from deep — something Spoelstra has mostly avoided.

But those lineups have worked in small doses in the playoffs. Miami is plus-90 in 62 postseason minutes with Iguodala, Butler, and Adebayo on the floor. That trio went minus-42 in 45 regular-season minutes.

Prediction

A Heat championship should not blow fans away. How can anyone doubt them now? But the Lakers have the two best players, and both of their core lineup types — big and “small” — have some pressure points against Miami. Depending on your conception of the 2014 Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron’s teams have not lost a series in which they have been favorites since the 2011 Finals. Lakers in 6.

NBA Finals schedule: Game 1, 9 p.m. ET, ABC and the ESPN App

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
– MLS on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

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Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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