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Attempt at a Game 5 Breakdown

1st half
The Heat continued with their switching scheme. The Lakers go back to Howard after the 2nd half adjustment last game to replace his minutes with Morris.
The Heat ran a bunch of Butler pick and rolls with a small setting a screen on AD that's so low it's almost a back screen. This first lead to a Butler midranger and then Danny Green completely loses sight of Duncan Robinson for a corner 3. For their part, the Lakers were getting success with a Davis pindown for KCP. This is a particularly effective play since they make sure Bam isn't there to protect the rim. In the second play on the clip, Bam is on LeBron James because they run an early Davis screen to get a quick switch - which also allows him a much easier time getting the offensive board. Really smart construction here by LA. The way the Lakers ran from Miami misses has been outstanding and the biggest difference maker in the 1st.
In a weird rotation choice, they kept Dwight and AD together as LeBron sits and Miami goes small, switching Adebayo by Iguodala. Despite the lack of size, this is a tremendous job to prevent AD getting inside. Those were good minutes for Miami, with fantastic team defense as they continued to put someone on Rondo they can switch in AD pick and rolls and great effort denying him the ball on an entry pass - 9-0 Heat run. Then, in a scary moment after a couple of plays where he shut down Miami penetration, Davis goes down grabbing his ankle as the inaugural quarter winds down. He quickly seemed ready to come back in but for the rest of the night he wouldn’t be the overwhelming defensive force he’d been in game 4. The first quarter ends with Miami up 1.
The Heat forced a bunch of turnovers to start the 2nd quarter and dilating their lead. My adoration for Andre Iguodala is eternal. Note on the first clip how Nunn stayed in the passing lane to LeBron as Butler tries to recover. Kendrick had a really nice stint, including scoring a couple of times over Dwight Howard - he started 4-5 and had 11 points in the first half. Miami started 7-9 in the 2nd and though they were scoring well on midrangers, they were getting very good looks (specially whenever AD wasn't on the court). Many were generated by a surprisingly effective small-small pick and roll with Butler and Nunn. Butler was used a lot more as a screener in game 4 and that seemed to continue to be a theme here in game 5.
There were a couple of plays where I felt LeBron guarding Bam actually allowed for a good look at the rim because James was coming up to meet the driver enough for the drop off. If it's AD in that position he can kinda cover both options due to his unreal size and speed combination but in this case either they have to meet the player at the rim or someone needs to slide in and sink.
Miami really seemed in a groove and this was the second time LeBron James had to save a possession with a 3 pointer. Continuing his dominant game 4 second half play, LeBron scored 11 points just in the first half of the 2nd quarter. He would finish the half shooting 9-11 from the field.
The final stretch sees the pace rise as AD moves up to the 5, LA played multiple transition possessions and this team grows from that feedback loop like no other. As LeBron continues to be unstoppable on the open floor, this is one of many plays that makes me think Bam's is far from 100%. His finishing is a lot softer compared to what we've seen pre-injury. 8-0 run and the lead was cut to a one possession affair. Rondo has 3 consecutive possessions where he just goes at Kendrick Nunn because the option to switch those pick and rolls with AD doesn't exist with that matchup.
Unlikely back-to-back 3 pointers from AD and then a Butler responde keep the game with a 4 point difference for Miami at the half. "Jimmy Buckets" scored or assisted on 38 of the 60 points Miami had in the first half.
2nd half
The game gets very sticky in the early second half and both teams were fully relying on their respective leading man. It was now KCP's turn to forget about Duncan Robinson in the corner but LeBron responds immediately - James is refusing to let this game out of his hands. At this point, I was only 50/50 on him punching a teammate before the game is over. Butler had a huge couple of offensive rebounds, for what was basically a 6-point possession. The ankle might not be healthy but this is still over Anthony Davis.
Both teams go to their small lineups, the match up that the Lakers thrived in at the end of the previous quarter, but the final few minutes of the third were such a cavalcade of non-sense that I don't have any proper commentary to offer. It culminantes with Kuzma outraged by the fact jumping chest first into a shooter is considered a foul. The Heat enter the final quarter ahead by 6.
In the early 4th, with AD resting, Miami tries to get Bam going a bit by running more offense through him, to decent results. Vogel understands the urgency and brings back Davis off the bench. Initially, the Lakers once again fall into multiple possessions resulting in turnovers, including back-to-back incidents by LeBron. However, after a timeout momentum switched again with LA's defense looking much sharper - Any play they can force an isolation on Davis is a win and they got it a number of times. LeBron does a good job recognising the mismatch and switching with Caruso before Butler can post up. The Lakers finally regained the lead after a big shot by KCP, on a catch and shoot 3, capping a 15-3 run in only 4 minutes.
With Herro back on the floor, Miami's response comes out of Butler's defensive efforts. If you want to see the effect Herro and Robinson can produce when near each other just watch Caruso screen KCP, who was caught sleeping. In these last couple of clips you can see the main strategy both teams were adopting: LeBron hunting a switch on Duncan Robinson (with Butler hedging and recovering to avoid it); Jimmy getting AD away from him in a switch to go at Marcus Morris. The game was tied at 101 with 2 minutes remaining.
Impossible not to admire LeBron James, 35 years old and with the tank on reserve, going 1 on 1 against Crowder and getting the and-1. Watching him and Butler, clearly exhausted, trading bucket for bucket in this old-school rock fight was making my heart race.
After an Anthony Davis offensive board to a tip-in and the shot clock is turned off, Butler draws the foul at the rim on AD - was I the only one whose heart stopped when I saw LeBron caught on the flat screen and Morris guessed the wrong side? - and the Lakers have 16.8 seconds to overcame a 1 point deficit and clinch a title. They advance the ball with their last timeout, the Heat double LeBron and play the odds allowing a wide open 3 from Danny Green. Icy-Hot misses the potential title-winning shot and Morris throws it out of bounds trying the lob pass to AD. You wonder to what extent Miami was always willing to give Green a shot since they had Duncan Robinson guarding him and James was clearly going to try to attack him on a screening action. Morris tried a tough lob instead of just handing another wide open 3 to Danny Green or hitting LeBron on the wing. But being a 1 point game (and probably expecting Bam to go and try to front Davis), I can also understand the desperation to get the ball near the rim. Still, you can tell Morris also felt the pressure of that decision.
This was absolutely incredible - the type of game NBA Finals are remembered by. LeBron had 40 points (6-9 from deep!), 13 boards and 7 assists that could have been many more. He was UNREAL and they still couldn't clinch it. Butler played 47-fucking-minutes and was 35-12-11 with 5 steals and 5 offensive rebounds. Both teams had one S-tier performance and one injured big, who’s the teams’ second best player, looking like lesser versions of themselves. But then the difference becomes stark when you look at the rest of each squad: The Heat played only 7 guys, entirely eliminating Hill, Olynik and DJJ from the rotation. Nunn, Iguodala and Robinson all had their moments to shine; LA's bench shot 1-11 from 3 and Dwight had an abysmal game - they basically got only scraps from any role player that wasn’t KCP.
The Heat shot over 40% from deep and the Lakers numbers were close on that department but exclusively because LeBron managed 6 for 9. Only 3/10 from the corner 3 for LA and Miami hit 7/13 on long midrangers - if one of those stats falls towards normal levels it is enough to see the game swing on another direction. But being real, all it would've taken was one wide open above the break 3 going in at the end. Speaking of those Miami midrangers, Butler being able to pull up from there and hitting 5-7 from that range (including a couple over Anthony Davis) is the perfect way to punish a demesne that's constantly going over on you.
The Lakers were as incredibly dominant in transition as they are expected to be. They had an offensive rating of 175 running from live rebounds and won the fast break points "fight" 25 to 4. Getting that type of stylistic advantage go your way and LeBron James playing such an incredible game, losing this feels like Butler and the Heat grinded out a miracle.
This hasn't changed the most likely outlook - I will still bet on LeBron with him only needing 1 win out of 2 games - but it did a couple of things for the Heat: Jimmy Butler's place on the pantheon of this league has shifted after these 2 wins on the biggest stage and Miami, despite Bam looking a shell of himself and Dragic not available, have proven themselves every bit the great team and every bit the finalist we believed they were after running through the East. I’ve certainly changed my tune and am now taking this series game by game.
Other Notes
AD looked a lot less like himself because of his injury. Bam might be cleared but it's no accident he's blowing layups like is cosplaying me in pick up games. Let's hope both of them can physically recover for game 6.
Dwight got very agitated early on. Arguing with the ref, double-T with Jimmy and a bone-headed inbound pass straight to Miami with a 3-2 scenario - and that's all in the 1st quarter. In the early 3rd, he gets caught guarding no one and Crowder got an open corner 3, to the desperation of LeBron James. He would also commit the most obvious flagrant foul possible on Butler after an offensive board. Should I just call this section the "Bill-Simmons-is-right-on-Dwight highlight reel"?
When people want Butler to be more aggressive, this is what they're complaining about. Either that pass comes sooner so KCP can't close out or you just attack the rim as hard as you can. No hesitation. I will give credit to KCP though - fantastic job first getting himself in between Butler and Herro and then sprinting for the close out without biting in the pump fake.
Miami ran a few times a horns set with Herro and Robinson coming in as screeners but I didn’t think they actually generated any good offense from those. I prefer when they tried to overload the weak side with both Herro and Robinson both running off ball because it will inevitably create some sort of breakdown.
“Bam, spread out... No, Bam... BAM! NOT YOU. If you set the screen they'll switch Bron on me”
LeBron is awesome at making the guys coming out from the handoffs uncomfortable. He constantly makes Herro second-guess himself... And Tyler Herro never saw a shot he didn't like.
Duncan Robinson got a coupe of strips on smart doubles. His help defense was pretty solid throughout.
If "Playoff Rondo" is a thing, can I propose "Finals Pope”? He’s also the only guy this game Duncan Robinson really had to work to create separation from.
I'll finish with my reminder I'd rather listen to a feed that's just the amplified squeals of sneakers on the court than Mark Jackson's "insights".
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How much do you know about cricket match prediction?

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My drug dealer had a dark secret.

I hate stories that start with questions. Have you ever killed someone? Fuck no. Have you done something you regret? Yes, I'm a fucking human. Does a bear shit in the woods? You answer that for yourself.
But now I must violate my own rule. I must ask: why?
I'm told that I have a foul mouth. I prefer the term "colorful language." See, my dad was a trucker. He didn't get road rage- he was better than that- but if someone ever messed with him off the road, he could lay into them. And not just verbally. Twice he almost got fired for beating the shit out of people.
I know what you're thinking. What an asshole, right? Wrong. He never provoked people. They were the ones who messed with him. He always went through shitty little towns in Virginia or Missouri or God knows where and dealt with the scum of the Earth. If you live anywhere like that, I am truly sorry.
He worked his ass off to put me in college. I, in all of my wisdom, decided to major in English. My mom was a teacher, so I guess I got my interests from her. My dream was to become a writer. That turned out poorly once I realized all I could write about were cliches and overused plots.
So I joined a newspaper. They get a lot of flack these days, but most journalists are good people. I fucking hate reporters, the ones that you see crowding people on TV, but still, it's their job. What do you want them to do? Not report anything?
I make enough to stay afloat. No more than that. I live in a small apartment with no air conditioning, and that's where all of this shit started. Correction: it’s near where everything started.
The story in question happened exactly two years from today. I could not bear to tell it then, not even to my mom and brother. Now I finally feel ready to share.
My job doesn't always require that I go in, but on this fateful day I had to, because there was an office-wide meeting with the CEO. Keep in mind, our paper was pretty small, no more than twenty employees. So our CEO was a pretty chill woman.
I have to take the bus because I'm poor as fuck. Usually I walk half a mile to the bus stop, then ride for about thirty minutes until I get off, walk another ten minutes, and by magic I arrive at our building. It's a pain, especially when driving would take half the time, but hey, I guess I fucked myself with my degree.
A block or two from my bus stop, there was this guy, Tim. The name makes him sound benign. He was not. He was an acquaintance of mine at the time. If I ever needed dope, I'd text him and he'd tell me to come over. I made a good customer, and he always enjoyed taking my money.
My mistake was asking for a loan. Since I'd always given him business, he of course obliged. Little did I know that I was about to get fucked that month. My appendix burst, and my ER visit cost me a lot of money. More than I could afford. I had to sell a couch and my only TV to pay for the initial charge.
Needless to say, that did not leave me with much to pay Tim. So I told him I needed time. Fine, he said. He knew I would pay up eventually.
Except I never did. In my haste to pay the bills and monthly installments for the ER visit (thank God they allow for payment plans), I had almost no money to spare. The little I could have given him got spent on beer. I'm not an alcoholic, I don't even drink that much, but when life takes a shit on you, sometimes alcohol's the only way to go.
Let's go back to that morning, the one where I had a meeting with my coworkers. Remember how I said Tim lived near the bus stop? That meant I had to pass by his house. Sometimes he'd be smoking on the porch and wave. Recently, he had been giving me the look, the one that said pay up or I'll have your head.
As it turns out, that interpretation wasn't far from the truth.
He jumped me as soon as I rounded the corner. Since my commute was long, I had to leave early, at about seven. No one was outside, save for the few commuters like myself who were likely at the bus stop by then. Which, as I said, was a couple blocks away.
I remember seeing him on his porch. He looked happier than usual, like he’d just gotten laid. I should know; he got even less girls than me, and he often spent our time together bitching about it. When he was in a good mood, more often than not it involved sex.
Good for him. I didn’t think anything of it. What did I care how he felt?
That was mistake number one. Mistake number two was saying hello to him. I still believe that if I hadn’t done that, he might not have seen me. He was staring into the distance, smoking his cigarette, until he heard my goddamn voice and pulled out a gun.
It was not a small one, either. He was holding a desert eagle. Don’t ask me how he got one, I don’t fucking know. All I know is that seeing that thing nearly made me shit myself.
He beckoned for me to come over, and you can bet your ass I listened. No way was I going to mess with him, not when he could kill me. He probably would have aimed for the gut, made it as painful as possible. He would have gotten caught- kind of hard to hide that shit out in the open- but he would have done it anyways. I know he would have.
“Inside,” he said. “Now.” I ran inside like I was running from a bear. He was right behind me, and any hope of escape died once he closed that door.
He led me down to his basement. It was unfinished and had a concrete floor. I’d only been down there once, when he gave me a bit of his “special stash.” Laced weed, in other words, and it was good, so good that I was willing to pay triple. Being the broke twenty-something year old I am, that was high praise.
“Where’s the money, Jack?” he asked me.
“Hey, nice to see you, too,” I said. “Now, could you please lower the fucking gun?”
Tim shook his head. “I don’t think so. You’ve had three months. That’s a lot of time to pay back one grand. You have a job, right?”
I had no choice but to admit that I did.
“So you should have the money.”
I had told him about my appendix. I figured it was worth telling him again. Before I could get far into my explanation, he stopped me.
“I don’t give a shit about your appendix,” he said. “I want my money. Now.” He grinned. “Or I will resort to other methods of payment.”
I did not like the sound of that. “I’ll get you your money,” I promised. “Just give me a little more time. A couple weeks.”
I could have done it. I would have needed to eat ramen every day and beg on the streets at night, but I could have managed. Having a gun in your face provides a special kind of motivation.
He wouldn’t allow it. “Uh-uh. You either have it or you don’t. I’ll walk with you to an ATM, if you need. But you’re not leaving my sight until I get something.”
I’m not great with money. I had blown most of what I’d had the previous night at a poker game. I had thought, in all of my genius, that I could win enough to pay my monthly hospital bill and start saving for Tim. Fat chance. My checking account now had a whopping total of $350. That was supposed to be enough for two and a half weeks of expenses.
“I don’t have it,” I said.
Tim still had that damned grin on his face. “I guess that leaves option B.”
“And what is-“ I don’t know what happened next. All I remember is him lowering the gun, then something crashed over my head.
I woke up in a shadowy room. There were torches on the stone walls, like some kind of medieval shit. I was cuffed, and those cuffs were attached to chains on the floor.
“You’re awake,” a voice said. I strained to see who had spoken. The voice had come from somewhere behind me.
I didn’t have to wait long. A beast of a man appeared at my side. He was what I imagine you’d get if you combined Arnold Schwarzenegger with an NBA player. The man was tall, muscular, and he looked like he could squeeze my brains out with his bare hands.
“Who the hell are you?” I asked. In hindsight, that was not the right thing to say. He backhanded me. I think he tried to be gentle, but my head snapped back, and I could feel blood running from my nose.
“I do the talking,” he said. I didn’t think arguing was a smart idea, so I complied.
“Come on over, Tim,” he said. And there he was. The bastard was wearing a brown cloak, and he had a dagger in his hands.
“What the fuck is this, Tim?” I said.
Tim pulled back his arm as if to stab me, but the big man put a hand on his arm. “Allow me.”
The man punched me in the gut, and I think that time he didn’t hold back. I couldn’t breathe. It felt like my insides had been shoved through a grinder, and when I finally did take a breath, I coughed up blood.
Not good, you may be thinking. You’d be right. But it was about to get so much worse.
“I’m part of a special… organization,” Tim said. “We believe that there is another world adjacent to ours. One that holds special beings. We’d like you to help us learn more about them.”
“And how can I do that?” I said without a tinge of sarcasm. I was not about to argue with him. He was crazy, sure, but if I said that to his face I was afraid the big man would crack my skull open.
“Simple,” Tim said. “We need a blood sacrifice.”
I took a moment to process that. If I hadn’t been in chains, I would have slugged the fuck out of him, with or without the big man in the room. Alas, all I could do was give him my meanest glare and spit at his feet.
The big man laughed. I could not understand what he found so amusing. When he stopped, Tim resumed with his explanation.
“We’re going to kill you,” he said. “But slowly. We have to let out as much blood as possible before you die.”
I waited for him to continue. That was it. He didn’t have any more to say. He simply held his dagger in front of me and smiled.
“You can’t be serious,” I said.
“Oh, but I am. Our last sacrifices didn’t work. The ones that I thought had a chance couldn’t last long. But you? I think you’re tougher than you look. We only need a liter of blood. That should be easy enough for a man of your size.”
I’m no lightweight at six feet, but a liter of blood sounded like a lot, even for me. Tim held his dagger out like an offering, and I strained against the cuffs on my wrists. It did no good.
“You should be grateful,” Tim said. “You will get to witness what no mortal has before. We will finally learn about these creatures, and then all will rejoice.”
“Hold on.” Tim actually let me speak. “How the hell does that work? How come you haven’t been able to do this with anyone else?”
“As I said. They weren’t strong enough. And this process, well… it takes a special person. The others were not special enough.”
“Special how?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Let me guess.” I smiled despite the blood on my face. “You think I’m more fucking retarded than your dad.” I knew that would hit hard, because his dad has mild autism. Harsh, I know, and I would never make fun of someone like that, not in any normal situation.
I’m pretty sure Tim wanted to kill me then. The only reason he didn’t was because he knew what he wanted from me. He must also have known that a quick death would be too generous.
He didn’t waste more time talking. He had the big man restrain me, and then he started cutting. First it started off benign- a couple small cuts on my arms. Blood dribbled down into a basin I hadn’t seen before. I figured, okay, if it continues like this I’ll be fine.
Except it didn’t. Tim just wanted to give me hope. That, and he wanted me to bleed out as slow as fucking possible. He waited to see my reaction, and when it didn’t please him he made another cut, this time across a vein.
Have you ever seen movies where someone slits their wrists and dies? You know how much blood comes out from that? Yeah, it’s not an exaggeration. One of the few things movies get right.
I knew in that moment that my death would not be slow. It would be terrifying, though, which I guess is what Tim might have been going for. I didn’t feel pain, at least, just a pressure in my arm. There was also the blood, which had started to run in rivulets down my arm and onto my clothes. My fucking work clothes. I really liked that button-down shirt.
Struggling only made it worse. More blood spurted out, and before long I was starting to feel dizzy, like I had just been spun around in a chair. Except the dizziness didn’t go away. If anything, it got worse, to the point where I felt like I was falling when I was really sagging against my chains.
“That’s enough,” the big man said. He was in front of me now. I hadn’t even noticed that he had let go. It clearly hadn’t mattered, because I barely had the energy to stand. If you could call being hunched over a basin on your knees standing.
I prided myself on remaining conscious. It might have meant nothing, had I died unbeknownst to the world, but I couldn’t help myself. Tim had wanted me to suffer. Instead, he had to watch me look him in the eyes and grin, despite the blood pouring out of my arm.
He was pissed. “You said he was special,” he hissed at the big man, as if I couldn’t hear what they were saying.
“It should have worked by now.” The big man shrugged. “I don’t know, Tim. Maybe he’s like the others.”
“Bullshit! You know that’s not true. He’s a descendant, for Christ’s sake! How could he-“
They were both silenced by the portal. I thought I was really losing it at that point. After all, I had just lost a liter of blood, if what Tim had said was correct. It probably was, since his fucked-up ritual worked.
Whatever picture popped into your head when I mentioned the portal, it’s wrong. You might be thinking of the big one that Thanos came through in the movies, or the ones from the actual game Portal. It was nothing like either of those. I’d say its closest parallel was the wormhole in Interstellar. This thing was a blob, black as night, so dark that it seemed to cast shadows on itself, and it was no bigger than a Kleenex box
Keep that in mind. It makes what happened next seem more impossible than the portal existing at all.
A creature stepped through. As in, it was small enough to get through the portal, then it suddenly wasn’t. The thing was a behemoth. It had to have been ten feet tall, yet it was not lanky. It had enough muscle to offset its height. I had thought the big man was strong. He looked like a toddler next to the creature.
I don’t know what it was. I don’t want to know. I can only describe it. There were red, pulsing veins all along its chest, like it was a fucking heart or something. Its head was large, even for its oversized body, and it had horns. Not horns like a minotaur or a devil; I mean something closer to antlers, though not quite as large and spindly.
The eyes were the worst part. They were black like the portal, and when I looked into them I felt a sense of clarity that shouldn’t have been possible in my bloodied state. I saw unspeakable things. Lakes of fire and blood and shadows, the stuff that you’d imagine belonged in Hell. I’m not sure how much of it was real. I only know what I remember.
Did I mention the fangs? The fucker had fangs like a tiger’s. Now, you might think that mental image is funny: a buff dude with pulsing veins, antlers, and fangs. Let me tell you, it was the farthest thing from funny you can imagine. It was fucking terrifying. I think I actually pissed myself when it looked my way.
Tim didn’t seem bothered by the intrusion. “It worked!” he cried. “We’ve finally done it. We managed to communicate with the dark realm.”
I think he was going to say more. He did not get to finish. The creature grabbed him with a meaty hand half the size of my own body and swallowed him whole. Just like that. It sucked Tim down like I would a noodle. Its mouth expanded, seemed to vacuum him inside, and then there was silence.
I’m pretty sure the big man wanted to run then. He was in the process of turning around when the creature grabbed him, too. I guess the big man was, well, too big, because this time the creature had to eat him in two bites. The sound of teeth crunching through flesh and bone is not one I want to hear again. I’ll spare you the description.
There was so much blood. It made my wound look like a papercut. I don’t think people understand how much a person can bleed until they see it. That was certainly the case for me, because the big man spouted it like a fucking geyser. A geyser that the creature did not seem to mind, if it noticed at all. The blood that splashed against its chest evaporated on contact.
Two, maybe three seconds had passed, and it had eaten both of the other men. At that point I’d given up. I was surprised I was still conscious at all. I was still bleeding heavily, and, while the creature had sharpened my senses, the room was still swaying. Or maybe I was.
Its eyes bored into my own. I was sure I was about to die, until it did something that to this day I cannot fully understand. It freed me. Not hard, when you’re as big as it was. It pulled on my chains and snapped them like they were pieces of string.
I pitched forward into the basin. I thought I was going to vomit until I noticed that there was no blood. What the fuck? Had I not just been bleeding like a goddamn bomb had been dropped nearby?
It was the creature, I realized. Its veins, the ones pulsing in its chest- that was my blood inside. I don’t know how I came to that conclusion. I think it was an afterthought, when the creature went back through its portal and disappeared. I could think of no other reason why the blood would have vanished.
It jived with the ritual, too. Tim had claimed he needed my blood. Had it been to satiate the creature?
I can’t tell you how long I spent in that basin. When I came to the conclusion that I was not dead, I tried to get up. I ended up tipping the basin over and falling on the floor. I scraped my hands, cursed, then realized as I looked at the ripped skin that I was no longer bleeding. Not from Tim’s cuts, at least.
The small ones had healed completely. The gash through my vein had already scarred over. How the fuck? I wasn’t about to question it, because whatever had caused it to heal had saved my life. I would have bled to death in that room, had the wounds not regenerated like they did.
I was still dizzy- I had, after all, lost a liter of blood- but I was conscious, for whatever that was worth. There were stairs at the other end of the room. From my chained position I hadn’t been able to see them. Now I could. They were wooden, and I found after a long two minutes of climbing that they led to Tim’s house. There was a hidden door that opened into his basement.
By then I was pouring sweat. I had lost a lot of blood. I was stressed, tired, and ready to collapse on the floor right there. I knew I couldn’t, though. I would die if that happened. I needed a hospital if I wanted to live.
Part of me wasn’t sure I did want to survive. After what I’d seen, I figured I had some long nights ahead of me. And I didn’t know what else lurked in what Tim had called the “dark realm.” Were there more creatures that would not be so kind? Different ones that would come to finish what Tim had started?
Different ones that were even worse?
I knew they existed, just as I had known the creature had been pumping my own blood. What I didn’t know was if I would see them. I figured it was worth giving myself a chance to live if I wasn’t sure.
The phone in Tim’s house was at the top of the stairs, right next to the kitchen. I somehow made my way up, trembling legs and all, and dialed 911. When they asked what my emergency was, I almost laughed. I could imagine myself saying something like, Yeah, my drug dealer just summoned a demon. It almost killed me. Please send help!
I stuck with the more realistic version of the story.
It took two transfusions to get me out of my hospital bed. I also had to stay a couple nights, because apparently there are other side effects of losing blood. Low blood pressure, for one thing. Mine had been dangerously low, so much so that the doctor couldn’t believe I was still conscious when I made it to the hospital. He also didn’t understand how my one cut had scarred over. That remained a mystery to both of us.
I was interviewed by a detective after I had regained my strength. She asked how I escaped. It didn’t take long for the police to find the secret door and the chains with my blood on them. Tim and the big man were nowhere to be found (at least for the police; I knew what had happened to them). Their prints, however, were all over the room. The general consensus was that I had escaped when they had left, to go… wherever they had gone.
That was what the detective really wanted to know. She understood, however, that I was not a fucking GPS. I could not tell her where they had actually gone, because I would have sounded fucking insane. Instead I told her that I had blacked out, and when I woke up the chains had been broken.
She didn’t question my story, mostly because I retold it two or three times, the last time to a different detective. The police were not satisfied, but they couldn’t argue with the facts. It was obvious that I had been kidnapped and tortured, bled almost to death, and that Tim had vanished. I never did tell them about the big man, and they never asked me about the set of prints that I knew must have been at the scene.
There were a couple follow-ups and more questions, but I was essentially done once I got released from the hospital. I was the victim, after all. The only thing I could give them was my statement. A man that almost bleeds to death in another man’s basement is hardly a suspect, nor is he suspected to know much about his captors.
They did share Tim’s record with me. It was why they could identify his prints in the first place. Turns out he was older than I thought. He’d already served five years for dealing and had been on patrol for the past couple years. It seemed I had first met him right when he’d gotten out of prison.
I wish I could tell you more. That dark realm has never left my mind. I can’t forget the visions I saw through the creature’s eyes. The creature, too, I remember clearly, down to the number of veins on its chest and the infinite blackness of its eyes.
Truthfully, I don’t want to know more. Whatever places I saw can stay the fuck away from this planet. Yet I remain curious, if only because I have seen them so many times in my dreams. The entire scene plays itself out at least once a month. An abbreviated version, but still.
Now you understand why I have told no one about this story before.
Have you paid attention, reader? Have you thought back to the very question that started all of this?
That’s right. I asked why. Why what? Well, for the past couple months the dreams have stopped. Understand that this has never happened. The weeks after the incident I dreamt about it once. After that, I had at least three recurrences of the creature every goddamn month.
I ask why not because I want to know, but because I am scared. I worry that the creature will return, or that one of its buddies will come through a portal in my house and eat me, too. Then I’ll be one of those missing persons you see on the news that never shows up again and that no one, save for my brother and maybe my mom, will mourn.
Fuck Tim, and fuck whatever cult he joined. I never wanted to be involved in this. Now, as I sit here typing, I wonder what comes next. It’s possible that the dreams have stopped because of time. Two years, after all, is not insignificant.
Or they could return. By they, I mean whatever species the creature belonged to. They could pay me a visit and swallow me whole, or transport me to that hellscape that I so often dreamt about.
If I think for a second that might happen, I’m going to fucking kill myself. Because if there is a real Hell, it has to be better than the places I have seen.
submitted by dogeman87 to nosleep [link] [comments]

With this season on hold, let’s look ahead to next. Here’s a breakdown of top draft prospect Anthony Edwards (Georgia). How he plays, how he projects, and how he fits on every team.

Thanks to the coronavirus, this NBA season may be a disjointed mess, and the NBA offseason may be as well. There’s no telling how much information teams will have to work with in regards to the prospects (their medicals, their workouts, their interviews, etc.) In a sense, it’s going to make an already-dicy draft class even riskier than ever.
That said, there are some things that we know about the new crop, so I thought I’d break them down for those NBA fans who don’t follow the NCAA and have run out of Tiger King episodes already.
Today, we’re going to start with the player listed at the top of the charts (on most sites.)
his resume
After a successful stint as an E.R. doctor, Anthony Edwards turned his attention to basketball full time. Best known as an explosive scorer, the guard became a five-star recruit that was ranked top 5 by all major sites. The Atlanta product decided to stay local, and attend Georgia for college. At the time, it was seen as a major coup for coach Tom Crean and a redefining moment for the Bulldogs program.
As we all know, snagging "one and done" superstars is a great way to stay relevant in college basketball. If you can load up with 2-3 of them at once, you can be a true title contender. However, as we've seen many times recently, landing ONE superstar recruit doesn't necessarily lead to glory. Solo stars like Ben Simmons and Dennis Smith Jr. didn't have loads of team success (and saw their coaches get fired soon after). Future # 1 pick Markelle Fultz's Washington team went 9-22 in his lone season there.
Some of those same problems plagued Anthony Edwards at Georgia. As a one-man band, he could rack up good raw stats (19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds per game), but struggled with his efficiency. He shot only 40.2% from the field, and only 29.4% from three (on 7+ attempts per game.) His playmaking also left something to be desired (2.8 assists, 2.7 turnovers.) Coach Tom Crean will survive, but this 16-16 team wasn't a year to remember after all.
Despite those mixed results, Edwards is still ranked as the # 1 overall prospect on ESPN. Other sites have him a little lower (with tankathon's # 6 slot the lowest), but he's generally considered a heavy favorite for a top 3 pick along with PG LaMelo Ball and C James Wiseman.
his game
When you watch Anthony Edwards play, the first thing that comes to mind is his explosion and power for the position. He's listed anywhere from 6'3" to 6'5" (so we'll settle on 6'4") but he has a long 6'9" wingspan. More than that, he's a sturdy 225 pounds. He’s going to be a handful to match up with, even in the NBA.
Offensively, Edwards utilizes his athleticism well, pressing the issue and (at times) forcing his will. The 19.1 PPG may not jump off the page, but Edwards has all the tools to be a big-time scorer. He can get buckets anywhere on the court. And while his 29.4% three-point percentage may jump out as an immediate red flag, his actual shooting form looks fine. His FT% (77.2%) also indicates as much. He's also clearly not shy about taking shots either, illustrating his confidence in that part of his game. With better teammates and better shot selection, he should be an average to above-average three-point shooter (maybe 36%.)
Defensively, Edwards should be better than he’s shown so far. He’s a natural SG, but his size and length should enable him to guard some 1s and 3s as well. However, the effort and attitude isn’t always there on that end at this stage.
his comps
Because Anthony Edwards played for Tom Crean, there's a natural tendency to compare him to other shooting guards that Crean has coached -- including Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo. Presuming any prospect will be as good as Dwyane Wade is setting yourself up for disappointment, but as far as best case scenario, that's not ridiculous at all. Like Wade, Edwards is a long-armed power guard with All-Star potential. I'd even say that he's farther ahead than Wade was offensively at this stage of their careers (Wade stayed two years at Marquette.) In order for Edwards to unlock that upside, he'll need to continue to hammer his way to the line. He averaged 5.3 free throw attempts per game -- which is "good" but not "great." Wade himself improved from 4.8 FTA to 7.5 FTA in his second year in college, and I'd encourage Edwards to make that a point of emphasis as well.
In terms of "worst case scenario," a few come to mind as well. If Edwards doesn't get to the line much in the NBA, then his scoring efficiency will become very dependent on his shot making, which is no sure thing right now. I've heard some people here on reddit throw out a Dion Waiters comparison, and that's not a ridiculous suggestion either when considering Edwards' floor. If he doesn't improve his efficiency and he doesn't improve his defensive intensity, then perhaps a life as a mediocre empty-calorie scorer is in the cards for him.
If I had to bet on a most likely outcome, the truth would be somewhere in between. Utah SG Donovan Mitchell immediately comes to mind for me. Like Edwards, Mitchell is a little undersized (in terms of height) but has good length and a powerful frame. He thrives best as a multi-level scorer, although his efficiency will also hinge on how often he's getting to the line. Right now, in Year 3, Mitchell averaged 24-4-4 for the Jazz, and that seems like a realistic expectation for Edwards down the road as well.
how he fits on every team (listed by current lottery order)
(1) GOLDEN STATE. chances of # 1 pick: 14%, chances of a top 4 pick: 52%
Based on some rumors, Anthony Edwards is the top player on the Warriors' board, although you could wonder about the immediate fit. Presumably, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be locked into the backcourt, and Andrew Wiggins (flaws and all) will still be further ahead than a 19-year-old rookie. There's some chance that the Warriors may decide to go SUPER small and play all four together with Draymond Green, but it's more likely that they'd bring Edwards off the bench to begin his career. That would serve as a nice boost for their shaky depth, but may not be the best use of an asset like this.
I'm more bullish on Edwards' fit on Golden State from a long-term perspective. Steph Curry is 32 now, so by the time that Edwards hits his prime, Curry will likely be 35+ and best used as a complementary scorer anyway. Edwards would inherit the kingdom, so to speak. And if you're worried about his habits and playing style, then you're unlikely to find a better home to develop him than a top-flight organization like Golden State. overall fit: 3 (out of 5).
(2) CLEVELAND. chances of # 1 pick: 14%, chances of a top 4 pick: 52%
Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers surprised many by taking a scoring guard like Darius Garland only one year after taking a scoring guard in Collin Sexton. Presumably, Anthony Edwards could fit with either one of the two because of his size/length, but it'd be hard to imagine all THREE playing together. To add even more murkiness to the equation, the Cavs also have an explosive young scoredevelopmental project at SG in Kevin Porter Jr.
If the Cavs do get a chance to draft Anthony Edwards, they'd likely go ahead and hand him the keys to the kingdom (and throw the other babies out with the bath water) if need be. He can be the type of signature star that they've lacked since LeBron James. That said, it's one of the clunkiest fits on the board. overall fit: 1.5 (out of 5).
(3) MINNESOTA. chances of # 1 pick: 14%, chances of a top 4 pick: 52%
Karl-Anthony Towns and GM Gersson Rosas finally landed their man in D'Angelo Russell, another high-volume scoring guard that theoretically would clash with Anthony Edwards. However, I actually think Russell and Edwards could play in the same backcourt. They're both long (Russell has a 6'10" wingspan, Edwards 6'9"), and project as decent shooters from range. Aside from some back and forth battles for the basketball, they should play well together.
The bigger domino effect of Edwards landing in Minnesota may be the fate of mid-season acquisition Malik Beasley. Beasley has some similarities to Edwards, with an underrated scoring touch. You could play Beasley as a 6th man scorer, but he's a free agent right now and may have higher aspirations than that. That hanging question will dock us a half point in this score. overall fit: 3 (out of 5.)
(4) ATLANTA. chances of # 1 pick: 12.5%, chances of a top 4 pick: 48%
The Atlanta Hawks already have their signature star in tow in Trae Young. They've (wisely) endeavored to build the supporting cast in a way that covers for him on defense, selecting D'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish in the draft, and trading for Clint Capela in midseason. On the surface, Anthony Edwards doesn't fit int that mold. He has the tools to be a good defender, but like a lot of young scorers, doesn't always lock in (advanced stats list him as a modest +0.8 in defensive box plus/minus.)
All that said, the fit still isn't bad. If the Hawks want to make the playoffs, they need to improve their defense. But if they want to win championships down the road, then grabbing another potential All-Star to pair with Trae Young is a good recipe too. Young's ability to spread the court would also help Edwards as he attacks inside. Offensively, they'd be a bad-ass duo. overall fit: 4 (out of 5.)
(5) DETROIT. chances of # 1 pick: 10.5%, chances of a top 4 pick: 42%
The strength of this year's draft is the point guard position, and that works out well for the Detroit Pistons. They could use a young guard who can develop behind Derrick Rose for a season or two, and ultimately take the reins of the offense and become the star of the franchise down the road.
That said, the Pistons could also use a star small forward. Or a star shooting guard. Basically: any star at all. Certainly, Anthony Edwards has star potential. That makes him a good organizational fit, even if the roster fit isn't cookie cutter (SG Luke Kennard is pretty good; let the Pistons know that.) overall fit: 3.5 (out of 5.)
(6) NEW YORK. chances of # 1 pick: 9%, chances of a top 4 pick: 37%
Like the Detroit Pistons, the New York Knicks aren't going to get too picky with their needs. Sure, they'd like a superstar PG, but any superstar would add a much-needed jolt of electricity to the building.
Would Anthony Edwards be the best type of superstar to provide that? Eh. Kinda-sorta. There's definitely some overlap here with R.J. Barrett in terms of a young wing with All-Star potential but some inefficiency issues to iron out. In an ideal world, they could be a superstar duo (LeBron James + Dwyane Wade worked out okay), but there's too much murkiness and projection involved there to give you confidence in that fit. overall fit: 2.5 (out of 5).
(7) CHICAGO. chances of # 1 pick: 7.5%, chances of a top 4 pick: 32%
Wait, an athletic scorer with defensive lapses? Would Chicago Bulls fans be seeing double here when Anthony Edwards shows up to play alongside Zach LaVine?
Again, as with Minnesota, I don't think it's a total duplication to pair the two together, because Edwards and LaVine both have size and the ability to shoot it. You could play the two together and put the pressure on defenses. That said, it's not a perfect marriage by any means, unless the Bulls can change their culture and get their kids to lock in on both ends. overall fit: 2 (out of 5.)
(8) CHARLOTTE. chances of # 1 pick: 6%, chances of a top 4 pick: 26%
The Charlotte Hornets' top two scorers this year were both guards -- Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham -- but neither one of them are good enough or efficient enough to make you change from a "best player available" approach to the draft.
More than anything -- and dare I say, more than any other NBA team -- the Charlotte Hornets need a SUPERSTAR. With all due respect to Kemba Walker, they haven't had one since their expansion. I don't know if Anthony Edwards will necessary be that superstar, but he'll have every opportunity here on a team that would feature him heavily. And while the Hornets get a lot of flak for their organization, their coaching staff isn't half bad at all. Candidly, I hope they win the lottery, because they deserve some good karma for not egregiously tanking despite their obvious rebuild here. overall fit: 4.5 (out of 5.)
(9) WASHINGTON. chances of # 1 pick: 4.5%, chances of a top 4 pick: 20%
Conversely, the Washington Wizards don't need a superstar to slap on the marquee as much as other lottery teams like Charlotte. They have Bradley Beal, and John Wall returning next year. Moreover, both of those stars are guards who thrive with the ball in their hands. Anthony Edwards would represent quite a bit of duplication here.
To repeat, the Wizards (and every team) should take Edwards if he's the clear best player available, but it's just not the best marriage for both parties in this particular case. Edwards could be a great 6th man for them or perhaps play as a small SF, but it's not the ideal remedy for what ails them. More than anything, the Wizards need frontcourt help, and defensive help, and Edwards' talents lie elsewhere. overall fit: 1 (out of 5.)
(10) PHOENIX. chances of # 1 pick: 3%, chances of a top 4 pick: 14%
At a certain point, years and years of lottery picks are going to give the Phoenix Suns so much talent that the scales will tip over and turn them into a winner. Probably. Maybe.
Anthony Edwards would help with that, even if there's some natural duplication here with scoring guard Devin Booker that will dock them a point or two in our metrics. That said, Booker has the ability to play PG if need be, and is one of the better spacers in the league. If coach Monty Williams can get Booker and Anthony Edwards to be a two-headed monster on the perimeter and unleash Deandre Ayton's potential as well, this could be a sleeping giant. overall fit: 3 (out of 5.)
(11) SAN ANTONIO. chances of # 1 pick: 2%, chances of a top 4 pick: 9%
It feels awfully strange to say, but the San Antonio Spurs are actually one of those teams like Charlotte (gasp) that needs a future star to build their team around. DeMar DeRozan is 30 (and a potential free agent), LaMarcus Aldridge is 34. The young kids like Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl are solid, but limited. Anthony Edwards would immediately come in and become the centerpiece of a rebuild. (Lonnie Walker IV may bristle at that, but our eyes will have wandered past him in this scenario.)
What works best in this hypothetical is the fit from a developmental standpoint. Edwards has star potential, but isn't a sure thing. There's no organization better at maximizing talent than the San Antonio Spurs, from a shooting perspective to a basketball IQ perspective to a long-term load management perspective. overall fit: 4.5 (out of 5.)
(12) SACRAMENTO. chances of # 1 pick: 1%, chances of a top 4 pick: 6%
Do the Sacramento Kings have a big need at SG? I don't know. They may not know. The team found some success toward the end of the year by starting Bogdan Bogdanovic and bringing Buddy Hield off the bench, but that may not be a sustainable scenario. Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent, and may cost upwards of $15M a season. Adding another wing to the mix would be an expensive proposition; the team would either need to bring either Hield, Boggy, or Anthony Edwards off the bench for a while.
At the end of the day, talent wins out, so you wouldn't complain to add even more to this young core; still, it doesn't appear to be the best fit on our board. overall fit: 2.5 (out of 5).
(13) NEW ORLEANS. chances of # 1 pick: 1%, chances of a top 4 pick: 6%
Young talent definitely isn't a problem in New Orleans. Along with Zion Williamson, they also have Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram (a restricted free agent that they're intent on re-signing.)
The current presence of Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick may not leave a lot of minutes available in the backcourt right now, but the true upside of this team isn't going to be in 2020 or 2021. If the Pelicans can develop a starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Jaxson Hayes, they could have the making of a true title contender in 3-4 years time. Zion + Edwards would be an especially wicked brand of bully ball on poor opposition. overall fit: 4 (out of 5).
(14) PORTLAND. chances of # 1 pick: 0.5%, chances of a top 4 pick: 2%
Like Golden State, the Portland Trail Blazers already have two stars in their backcourt with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. As mentioned with the Warriors blurb, Anthony Edwards' best fit with the Blazers may be in the long term. As Lillard and McCollum age, Edwards can take on more of the mantle as the star of the team.
But still, that's not an ideal marriage for all parties involved. What makes this even less seamless than the Warriors situation is that the Blazers already have a promising young combo guard in Anfernee Simons. If the Blazers move up into the top 3 and take Edwards, I would expect a trade (of either Simons or McCollum) to follow. fit: 1 (out of 5.)
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nba [link] [comments]

People on r/progresspics wanted to know how I lost 112 pounds, so here’s a detailed post about how I did it.

I’m this guy from progresspics. You can’t make text posts there, so I came here.
This is my original post.
People were awesome and wanted to know in detail what I did to lose all the weight. So here, in way too many words, is what I did. I hope you can find something to help you with your goals.
A year ago, things were bad. I was in an unhealthy relationship with my ex and more importantly, a toxic relationship with myself.
I knew I needed a change from everything. So what did I do?
I moved to Vietnam.
The first couple months there were rough. I was still trying to clear a lot of mental clutter. It also didn’t help that I got into a motorbike accident and shattered my kneecap. It seemed my big weight loss goals would once again be put on hold. I’m sure you know how that is. You’re eating healthy leading up to your vacation so you can eat all the bad food you want when you’re there. And then when you come back home you’re still eating all the bad food. Or you’re trying to lose weight and then something happens like an injury and you wonder why you’re even trying in the first place.
So I decided to take a look at that. Why was I trying to lose weight? Three other times I had lost over 100 pounds, only to gain it all back every time. Maybe I WAS the overweight guy. Was it time to embrace that?
(Yes — I’ve gained and lost over 100 pounds four times in the last ten years. This post only details the 112 pounds I lost in the last ten months, hopefully the last time I’ll do that to myself.)
Since Vietnam had all the snacks and delicious food, it was sure looking like I was embracing being the overweight guy. And in a very accepting country like Vietnam, I didn’t feel bad about that. People liked me. Yes, I know it was mostly because I’m a white American male, but it made me feel good. It gave me the smallest boost of confidence, which was entirely depleted at that time. I only highlight this because you never know the impact of your kindness on strangers.
So after I started realizing, “Hey, you know what? I’m not that bad!” and after I had tried every new snack at least once, the only thing left to do was eat healthy.
Or at least healthier. Which for such an overweight guy wasn’t that hard. In Los Angeles, part of my weight gain could be entirely contributed to eating a gallon of cookie dough ice cream EVERY night. In Vietnam, ice cream like that is super expensive. So when I’d want ice cream in Vietnam I’d have to go get a chocolate-dipped cone from KFC. Also delicious, but MUCH smaller and WAY LESS calories than a whole gallon of ice cream. Even when I’d go to KFC three times a day for these treats, I was still consuming less calories that I was in LA.
And when that happens — even small changes like that — you WILL lose weight. I did.
At first, what worked for me was the thought of just eating like a regular person.
Who was a regular person to me? Just a typical 200 pound dude. (I’m not trying to fat-shame or debate what it means to be a “regular” person. But I was clearly eating for three or four people, not one.)
Egg baguettes (banh mi trung op las) and tuna sandwiches with extra mayo and white bread and no tuna don’t seem like the healthiest food. But they were “real” food and they were a start. Because I was so heavy, you’re damn right I started losing weight like that.
For at least the first three months, my diet was relatively the same every day. Although, I’d experiment and try new Vietnamese food any chance I got. But even then, I don’t think anything was loaded with calories like it would be here in the US. Also, it’s what I considered “real” food. Not junk food like ice cream or chocolate. So at the end of the day even if I was making a choice between real food and junk food, I was winning. And I’d still be losing weight.
So right of the bat I lost a significant amount of weight without even managing my diet. I just started easy, eating a little better than I had before.
Somewhere along the way I got into nature’s energy bar, bananas. I’d pop a few of these a day when I wanted a snack. They even lost me my phone.
Saigon had a great banana shortage during their new year holiday called Tet and on my journey to find just one single banana somewhere in the city and going to well over fifty stores, I got my phone snatched by motorbike thieves.
I still love you bananas.
Then one day I heard white rice is good for you on a podcast. So I switched from bread to white rice and would have Tuna Onigiris. And I stopped eating egg baguettes, cutting out bready carbs. I just felt like my body didn’t need those anymore.
I still allowed myself to try whatever I wanted. But without realizing it, I was slowly changing my relationship with food entirely.
I also realized that I was, in fact, emotionally eating.
I’d known that I’d eat when I was happy (I deserve this snack!) or sad (this donut will make me feel better) — but I had an epiphany:
Boredom is an emotion.
How many times are you eating just because you’re bored? Before making the connection that boredom was an emotion, I didn’t think I was an emotional eater. But wow. Most every time I’m eating is connected to an emotion, and not because my body actually needed food.
So anytime I felt the urge to eat something, I questioned myself. Why do I want to eat right now?
Was it because I was actually hungry and my body needed fuel? Or was it because I was bored? Or sad? Or happy?
And if it was emotionally based, I wouldn’t let myself eat. I’d start chugging a soda water instead. The bubbles give me life. I would pretty much only drink soda water and Vietnamese iced coffees, with extra condensed milk.
But as you’re beginning to see, a lot of my gains came from inside my own mind.
What were my workouts like?
I started with walks and podcasts. Exercising while feeding my mind, not my stomach.
When the weight melted off I automatically felt strong and FELT like I wanted to lift some weights. It wasn’t a thing that I was being forced to do. It was something that naturally became something my body wanted to do.
Even for lifting at the gym, I tried to be as easy as possible. 5x5. Strong guy. Whatever that’s called. That was pretty easy to do, so I’d feel good about doing it. And then since I was already at the gym, I’d be more likely to do more. But usually my routine consisted of only thirty minute workouts.
Then around 215 I started playing basketball again. Which was something.
Here’s another wrinkle in my story —
I was coming off tearing my plantar fascia.
And then when I moved to Vietnam I got into a motorbike accident and broke my kneecap. So me being 215 and playing basketball filled me with so much gratitude. A year earlier I could barely walk and was overweight. And now I could run up and down the court, albeit slowly. And I sucked at basketball. I could only focus on offense or defense. One at a time per game. And usually defense, because nobody wants to play defense.
But it was fun.
And that kept me going.
If a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it, does it fall? If an intense workout is fun, is it still an intense workout?
Lightly lifting weights and playing basketball, combined with eating decently dropped me to 200.
I thought I was done. I felt great. I thought I looked great.
But I just kept going living this newly acquired healthy lifestyle.
I started intermittent fasting around 200 pounds.
I listen to podcasts voraciously, so I’ve been well-aware of fasting for quite some time. It seems all the most successful people on the planet participate in some sort of fast. But it wasn’t until I befriended a French traveler in Bangkok for Songkran that I decided to really give it a try. He was the first person I met in the wild who was actually fasting. Weight loss benefits aside, I asked him how it made him FEEL. He said great and that answer convinced me to give it a try.
Fasting had also been on my mind because I thought it’d be easy for me. I never had an appetite when I woke up in the morning, so waiting four hours to eat something was not a big deal. And something I often did anyway. Hell, sometimes I wouldn’t eat all day and then after my serving shift gorge on all the food. So basically I had been an OMAD faster without realizing it. And without realizing that 5000 calories was not the proper way to eat one meal a day. It took another month to really convince myself. I was afraid of getting headaches, mostly. So I decided to take it slow. I’d eat anything I’d want, during certain 4-8 windows. I was also going to be in Singapore. Have you ever had Indian paratha and chicken curry? The most delicious meal on the planet. But since I knew I was having bread, I decided to go one meal a day as I walked around Singapore. Around 6, I would feast on two parathas and a heaping bowl of chicken curry. By the time I got back to Vietnam I was a fasting pro.
I had started playing basketball at this time two or three times a week. We’d play from 8-10 at night so I had to plan my fasts around that. Playing basketball in Vietnam is like playing on a professional NBA length court if it were also in a sauna. After those two hours, you’d probably had guessed I jumped in a pool with all my clothes on, not just finished playing pickup basketball.
(They were very organized about their basketball games. Games up to 15 by 1s and 2s, or 12 minutes per game. In those two hours, we’d play 5 games. So exactly an hour of basketball workout. Combined with the sauna aspect, I’m sure I was burning loads of calories.)
There were some nights after basketball that I’d get Vietnamese McDonalds at midnight because it was open and I knew my body needed the calories. What a switch from knowing my body definitely did NOT need calories from another midnight McDonald’s run, but doing it anyway.
When I knew I’d be getting late-night McDonalds, I’d still be fasting. I wouldn’t have eaten until 4pm that day. And if I ended eating around midnight, that means I couldn’t eat until 4 the next day. But that next day would only be a 4 hour window so the NEXT day I could be back in a 12-8 fast. (In a span of three days: 16:8 - 20:4 - 16:8.)
So the beginning of May 2019 is when I started fasting. I was hovering around 200 pounds. Plateaued. Fasting helped me pretty quickly get down to 182.
Which I thought was great.
And from there I just kept on doing it because I felt great. Fasting had truly become a lifestyle.
Now? I’m 163 pounds and more importantly — maintaining.
What do my days look like now?
I’m back in Los Angeles.
I still walk at least thirty minutes a day. I don’t even force myself to do it. I enjoy it, and I genuinely look forward to it every day as a treat. And that’s a complete mindset shift.
I play basketball and boulder three times a week. These are high intensity workouts and guess what? I never feel like I’m working out, because they’re fun.
I lift weights once or twice a week, usually after a basketball or bouldering session. And the exercises I do are geared towards become a better climber.
I write a lot. Usually my walks are to Starbucks, where I indulge in a Trenta Berry Hibiscus, followed by a Trenta Cold Brew in which I put french vanilla creamer. And yes, I carry around vanilla creamer.
I go through ten cans of soda water a day. I LOVE soda water. The bubbles are so refreshing. I used to love Coke. And Sprite when I quit that. And then I discovered I got the same satisfaction from soda water because it was always about the bubbles. The more carbonation the better. Kroger brand Lemon-Lime for the win. (And I’ve tried them all.)
My lifestyle is about getting everything I really want and cutting everything else out. To get to this point I had to be really honest with what I really wanted. And I’m still figuring that out.
I still fast. Usually I eat from 12pm to 8pm.
I eat too many ThinkThin bars. Brownie crunch, to be exact. These taste like candy bars and have a low GI, so they help cravings. Although, I’m in the process of cutting these out for real food. I like the convenience of bars. I’m trying to substitute hard boiled eggs for these bars. I eat one or two bananas a day.
And then the rest of my diet is largely based around what’s on sale at Ralph’s. I’m a big sale guy. And a big convenience guy. So I often find snack packs of cheese, fruit, and nuts 50% off. I also find salad bags or sautéed veggie bags for 75% off. I get a lot of those and then add in some sort of meat, like tuna, chicken, or salmon depending on — you guessed it! — what’s on sale.
I don’t eat many processed carbs at all right now. But if I was given some bread I’d eat it. I just don’t crave it anymore.
More importantly, I promise you I eat whatever I want. But since my relationship with food has changed, so has my appetite and cravings. I got hummus the other week because it was on sale. But then I needed something to dip in the hummus. I was thinking I should go with a veggie because I love veggies now, and green beans happened to be on sale. So, for the next week my snack was dipping raw green beans in hummus and it was delicious. I’d actually crave it. Also, when your body is using food properly as fuel, a little bit of food goes a long way. I’ve never been into nuts, but now I love almonds and even a few of those give me such energy. It’s amazing.
I had free Pizza Hut last week because the Chargers made an interception. And you better believe I tried the new Cheese-It thing. But I also shared and didn’t eat the whole thing. I try to have an abundance mentality now. I don’t need to eat all of something right now. It’s not now or never. If I want more, I can always get it again.
This is what I ate for lunch today:
Told you I eat what’s on sale haha.
Key takeaways and general thoughts:
80-20 principle.
Apply this to your life to figure out what you really want. And then to figure out what is holding you back. If you’re like me — and I bet a lot of you are — it’s our weight that holds us down. Literally. So if we dedicate complete focus to that and make it a priority, EVERYTHING else in our lives will get better. Our weight produces the most pain to our relationships with ourselves and others. I want to be a successful screenwriter. I think I’m a very good writer because I know I work at it and I write movies I’d love to see in theaters. But people wouldn’t know because I don’t put my work out there. I don’t put myself out there because I was ashamed of my weight.
Things are never going to be perfect. How many times have you said you were going to start dieting today and have the perfect plan in your head but one little thing goes off and then you tell yourself you’ll start tomorrow?
Me. Too.
But you know what? That doesn’t help. All your ducks don’t have to be in a row. Just start. And I GUARANTEE one day you’ll end up looking back and realizing holy quackamole, all my ducks are in a row!
Podcasts and walks!
Two of my favorite things right now. Walks are scientifically proven to do all sorts of things for your mind and depression. And podcasts help you learn and grow and just generally a good voice to have in your head, instead of the one you currently have that keeps you eating when you’re bored or happy or sad.
Patience is key.
Time is going to pass anyways. If you’re so lucky, you’ll be alive in six months anyway. Would you rather be right where you are or somewhere new, wether physically or mentally?
Somewhere along the way I learned to stop discouraging myself. I realized it was no longer helpful. For instance, when I returned from Vietnam I went back home to Boston. I made a list in my Notes app of everything I couldn’t wait to eat. And I was ok with it. I accepted it. So I ate it all. But I kept fasting while doing it. And when I got something like a pizza, instead of eating the whole thing like I wanted to, I shared it. Still tasted just as good and half a pizza makes you feel just as full as a whole pizza, without the added calories and sickness that accompanies it. By the time I got to Maine I was eating Whoopie Pies. Even those, I’d have half and share the rest with my sister. I genuinely just wanted to savor them. By practicing such a healthy lifestyle for so many months I had finally got rid of that pesky pest Gluttony. And it felt good.
Did I gain some weight? Of course I did. About ten pounds.
More importantly did it set me back? No. I got right back on the horse. And it felt great. Traditionally, this is where I messed up. Vacations were always about food. What delicious things could I overeat? Even if I had lost significant amounts of weight before a vacation, the act of eating such bad food on my trip would send the seesaw back the other way and when I got back from vacation I’d keep up my vacation eating habits. There was no balance. I was all in, whether it was eating well or eating poorly.
This time was different. I accepted that I chose to eat a bit poorly during my trip. And with that acceptance I knew I could get right back on the saddle.
And how did I know this?
Because I faced my fears. Which fear? The scale.
Before, anytime something like this would happen I’d never actually weight myself to see the damage. What I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. This time, I wanted to know.
I gained ten pounds.
Wow. Not bad over three weeks. Could’ve been way worse.
But I also knew that wasn’t the direction I wanted to be heading, so immediately started eating right again. And since then and without much thought, I lost everything I had gained including an additional seven pounds.
I realized that before I was sabotaging myself, so now it’s something I am mindful of. Is this really something I want, or is this an act of self-sabotage?
And even now, I still sabotage myself. Remember my love of soda waters? I drink them right before bed. So instead of falling asleep peacefully, my bladder keeps me awake the next two hours. As someone who’s struggled with insomnia, that’s a bit of self-sabotage. But I don’t beat myself up about it, and that helps. All things considered, I’m doing pretty well.
I’m most proud of going back home for three weeks — and eating all my hometown food that I’ve craved for years — and not letting that pull me back the other way. Traditionally, vacations have been the death of my diets. I’m always good about losing twenty to forty pounds before a vacation. But then starting on vacation I gain 40-60 pounds. One step forward, two steps back.
But deal with one problem at a time. The biggest problem. Which was and still is my weight.
Make things easy for yourself to get started. If you want to be a 200 pound individual, eat like a 200 pound individual. It’s simple math. Calories in, calories out. I kept that in my head. If I eat like a 200 pound man, I will eventually BE a 200 pound man. I didn’t put a time limit on it. I just started being.
Get rid of distractions/Keep stuff out of your house.
I never made food in Vietnam because it was so cheap to eat out every meal. But not having snacks and food in my apartment really helped me.
I know I can’t keep a box of cookies in the house because if I do, I’ll eat the whole box. In like twenty minutes. So it’s best to not even have it in your house.
There have been times when I’ve craved something — I’m a sucker for Keebler Rainbow Chip Cookies — and even then, had a six or so cookies and threw the rest out. I know it’s extreme, but sometimes that’s what it takes to quit.
I can’t blame it on the alcohol.
If you’ve noticed, I haven’t talked about alcohol. That’s because I don’t drink. I never have. My vices have largely been Ben and Jerry’s. I suggest teetotalism for losing weight. I live a teetotal lifestyle and I share my stories over at my blog. Feel free to check it out. I won’t link here because I don’t want to promote anything, but it’s called Teetotally Awesome. It’s relative to weight loss because over there I show how you can still have fun and live an interesting life without drinking. And if drinking is holding up your weight and you couldn’t imagine giving it up, maybe my blog can show you another way. I don’t care if people drink or not. I think everyone should do them. But, if you’re thinking quitting drinking will help your weight loss goals and need some tips how to live a teetotal lifestyle, feel free to check out my blog.
More thoughts on fasting:
I wouldn’t have fasted if it wasn’t easy for me. I never have an appetite in the morning so not eating meant nothing to me.
Fasting was a great tool, but also only part of the solution to my weightless. I also started it at such an invaluable time. Probably the perfect time. I had tried Keto before during other weight loss attempts, but it felt really restrictive and would never stick.
Also, soda water deserves a special place in the IF hall of fame.
Find exercises that work for you:
My favorite exercises? Ones that aren’t exercises. Because they’re FUN.
When I play basketball, I work up the biggest of sweats. In Vietnam, it looked like I jumped in a pool with all my clothes on. But nope — I was just playing basketball.
The thing is — I love playing basketball so while I’m playing, I don’t ever THINK about how hard it is. I just do it. I’m present.
I’ve also discovered I love walks and podcasts. But I hate running. Is it a good exercise? Sure. Is it for me? Nope. The second I start running, I start asking myself “Why the hell am I doing this?!” And then I stop after a block. And since it’s not easy, and it’s not fun, I’m not going to do it the next night.
Maybe dancing is fun for you. Or swimming. You might have to give lots of things a try.
One thing’s certain — you will like exercise the more weight you lose. When I first started losing massive amounts of weight, I didn’t do much exercise. I started as low impact as possible, listening to podcasts while taking walks.
Then when I felt like I could start playing basketball, I did. Then when my body naturally wanted to get stronger, I started lifting weights. Now, most of my strength gains come from climbing. And any weightlifting exercises I do are targeted towards muscles that will help me become a better climber.
Don’t be afraid to try different things. It’s all about finding out what works for you, and it never hurts to try.
Make your weight loss a priority.
I didn’t have to worry about anything in Vietnam. The people there are amazing and everything is so cheap. I didn’t have to worry about anything, especially money. I could just be present in doing whatever it was I was doing. And the biggest thing I wanted to do was lose weight. Even if all I did in a day was eat healthy and a bit active, I knew I was making forward progress.
If you have a significant other, explain this to them. I know it’s tough, but it has to be a priority. You have to love yourself before you can love somebody else.
You can do it.
If I could do it this last time, then so can you. I had gained back over a hundred pounds three times, and here I was tasked with having to lose over 100 pounds AGAIN.
Maybe I had been wrong about myself. I kept telling myself I was supposed to weigh less, but I never stopped to ask if maybe I was SUPPOSED to be the big guy. If this was really me. Should I just embrace myself?
Now my story is I’m a guy who feels good about himself. And wants to spread love and help others.
If I could lose over one hundred pounds four times, you bet your ass you can do it once. We’re all capable of such remarkable things and lots of times you don’t even know it until you do it.
Just do it.
I almost wrote do it for you here. But in truth, that’s not necessary.
I’m doing it for me now, which is important. But when I started losing weight I’m not sure it was for me. And that’s ok. The important thing was I started.
Maybe you want to lose weight for a boy or for a girl. Let whatever motivates you to start to get you started.
You can be anyone and be overweight.
Weight doesn’t discriminate. Doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short or smart or slow. You can feel like you’re brimming with potential but no one will ever see it because you’re ashamed of your weight. You can be anyone.
How do I feel now?
I feel like myself again.
I feel in control and autonomous again.
I feel like I can do anything. Posting so vulnerable like this makes me super uncomfortable and is one of my worst fears, but I’m doing it. Losing such massive amounts of weight is one of the hardest struggles, as I’m sure you know. And instead of discouraging myself up for gaining all that weight in the first place, I’m changing my mindset and looking at the VICTORY of losing it all. Beating yourself up isn’t helpful. Loving yourself and others is.
What now?
I’d like to keep it off, and I’d like to help people in any way I can. Like I said, there’s much more to my story. This is the 4th time I’ve lost over 100 pounds, but I’m adamant it’ll be my last. It’s time to start learning from my mistakes. And the shame and guilt with being overweight can be paralyzing and painful. I don’t want to live in crippling fear anymore. We live once and we should all live the lives we want to live. I truly believe we’re all capable of change and being extraordinary.
Good luck and good eating, everybody!
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The r/MtvChallenge Fantasy Tournament: Redemption House - Day 21 (Round Five)

Welcome to the fifth round of the redemption house. Blink, and you’ll miss it! The fifth round is TODAY only! The winners of this round will face the losers of the semifinals of the main bracket. Intense! At this point, we’ve got a 4-1 team and seven 3-1 teams remaining in the loser’s bracket, while all teams in the main bracket enter the day at 3-0. Basically, that means the redemption house has more experienced players, and even a few teams that have won more matches than anybody in the main bracket. So... is this really the winner’s bracket? No! Don’t kid yourself! You were knocked out of the tournament, ya loser!
But worry not, for this is a safe and positive atmosphere! Join us as the loser battle heats up with even more head-to-head fights for redemption. Together, we’ll find out which team can overcome embarrassing losses, terrifying finals, and (supposed) voter insanity. While nobody will re-enter the Winner’s Bracket, you may just find yourself the Ruler of Redemption.
Before we get to the voting, let’s recap Friday’s fantasy match-ups.
Real World Bracket
Finally, Chet is gone! We can dance like the ewoks celebrating on the forest moon of endor! Look, I like Theresa and Momma Day as much as anyone else, but Mr. Perfect Face practically ruins this team for me - no offense u/harsh-femme. And who better to eliminate him than Nehemiah? (Answer: literally any other player, this is so anticlimactic).
Sadly, we’ll have to say goodbye to the pride of Marquette and the mother of Easton, Miss Theresa Gonzalez. If this was like the videogame NBA Street v3, the victorious team could trade any player they wanted to the loser in exchange for anyone on that team, and u/dolfan2354 would exchange Amanda for Theresa. It’d be an upgrade in almost any stat category you can think of.
But this isn’t NBA Street v3, this is the MtvChallenge fantasy tournament, so u/dolfan2354 is stuck with the team they have. It’s worked out for them so far! Seriously, this final had a little bit of everything - Thai bead stringing, coconut water, eating, puzzles, swimming, paddleboarding, climbing, running… everything. At some point, it becomes about who gets exhausted last, and who has the mental strength to complete the final. This might be a biting take, but Da’Vonne would probably get irritated the easiest of these eight competitors and check out mentally on the first or second night. I could also see Chet doing this. Meanwhile, Derrick K, Nehemiah, Veronica and Amanda would have no quitters, and would fight through the exhaustion to claim the victory.
So congratulations, u/dolfan2354! You’ll move onto the next round which is, uh, right now! And to u/harsh-femme, thanks for competing in the tournament, and we hope you had fun.
Road Rules Bracket
Welp, Team Likability’s unlikely run to the fourth round of the loser’s bracket has come to an end. I was rooting so hard for Kyle (who probably has the best sense of humor on the modern show), Josh (who wears his heart on his sleeve better than anybody), Sarah (who is an innocent crossword-loving funster), and Nany (who was the show’s sweetheart for so many years and we don’t need to talk about her paranoia on War of the Worlds 2), but they met their fate today. That’s right, Amanda Garcia has won two finals on one day. Buoyed by CT, probably, and Mattie being stronger than Nany in the minds of many fans (oh gosh, now I want to see this), Satan’s Asshole comes out on top once again.
The Fresh Meat II final featured canoeing, tangrams, sudoku, mountain biking, weight carrying, more sudoku, and mountain climbing. While in my mind these activities all live in the wheelhouse of the untouchable goddess Sarah Rice, I’m sure what tipped the scales was the 80lb bag carry that had to be done in pairs. CT and Dan are both more than capable of carrying 80 lbs that distance on their own, while Josh may not be and Nany probably also wouldn’t be. Especially after a weight-based puzzle, it would be hard to bank on Sarah and Kyle to do the heavy lifting and out-move CT, Dan, Mattie, and beneficiary Amanda.
Aside from the weight carry, I actually think it’d be pretty even. No wonder the score only differed by six votes here. I think Team Likability is probably the superior puzzle team, but Amanda is a very smart player and Dan and CT can hold their own on puzzles. Satan’s Asshole has a big brain after all, and as was destined, they eliminate Team Likability from the tournament. Nice guys really do finish last.
Congratulations to u/hkotila! You’re competing again today! And, to u/trebird1, this ends your time here on the MtvChallenge fantasy tournament. Take care of yourself.
Now, let’s get to voting. Today is the last double day of the tournament! You know the drill - this means we have two matchups from each bracket!
Real World Bracket
Match 1.0: u/BCastle18 vs. u/honestkodaline, u/priorsloth’s “Adore Delano 2020”
Final: The Inferno II
[u/honestkodaline, u/priorsloth] “Adore Delano 2020”
Winner’s Logic
  1. Landon in the night elimination against Luke and Ev literally dragged a almost unconscious Carley to a win and in the finals carried Carley up a mountain to get the win over 3 teams that on paper seemed stronger one of which included two top 10 challengers of all time in Kenny and Laurel with the weakest partner. Also did all of this while being respectful and supportive of his partner throughout showing he is very much a great team player.
  2. Only one team was in the main house all season on FR, it was Sylvia and Joss. They won the final endurance purge and won it rather comfortably. Showed that she can keep her composure in their elimination against John/Tony and many even believe that Sylvia and Joss were the rightful winners of FR, they also only lost by 40 seconds even while getting hit with two grenades.
[u/honestkodaline, u/priorsloth] “Adore Delano 2020”
  1. Other than strong competitors our teams biggest strength is that there is a clear alpha leader (Ev), and the other three are team players that will follow a strong competitor.
  2. EVELYN SMITH WON A SIMILAR FINAL, on Rivals 1! Not only did she win this final, but she did it with Paula. They beat Laurel and Cara Maria who would easily win anything you threw at them today. We know this wasn’t because Paula is a powerhouse, it was literally ALL on Ev. I don’t need to say much more because Ev is iconic, she won 3 seasons, and any true Challenge fan knows her résumé. Game, set, match bitch.
  3. Cohutta may not have a win yet, and he may be on the smaller side of the men, but he is brilliant. He makes the challenges work for him. During this season, Free Agents, he showed incredible agility being one of three people to make it across the rolling log during the first challenge. In the second daily he was partnered with Laurel, and of course they won, but neither could’ve done it without the other. On the third challenge he lead a team of Nany, Latoya and Preston across the bar crawl (sliding two bars under a wall suspended above water) when teams that had Jordan, CT, and Cara couldn’t even make it across! Free Agents was Cohutta’s best run and he finished in 6th place. This season showed us that Cohutta can work on a team with ANYONE and perform above average.
  4. Ashley Kelsey kickboxes. She solves puzzles. She stands up for Sam (well, halfheartedly, but she did at one point stand up for Sam, at least once, in her own way). She dated Dario, and we don't judge her for that. She won her first season. She lost her second season to Cara, but didn't she look cute while doing it?
  5. Ace Amerson invented the trash can punch. He hooked up with Tonya. He was on Team Good Guys on Inferno 3, because he is a good guy. In real life, he rides a lot of 4-wheelers and has a cute dog. He'll listen to Evelyn's orders. He'll be a supportive teammate and friend to all, except Derrick.
  6. Our team is a lean, mean machine - heavy on the lean. We run. We think critically (well, Evelyn does). We fight (well, Evelyn does). We get shit done... well, you get the point.
The Inferno II Final Description - thank you to the lovely u/stayoutofthe-forest for the details.
Match 2.0: u/ry-guy2fly’s “Team Backpack” vs. u/dolfan2354
Final: Cutthroat
[u/ry-guy2fly] “Team Backpack”
Winner’s Logic
[u/ry-guy2fly] “Team Backpack”
  1. CT doesn’t need an introduction, but I’ll give my team captain one anyway. CT, who fashioned the iconic Banana Backpack, is the greatest competitor of all time. For my team, I plucked him from his greatest season of all time. If you name a skill that can be tested on this show, CT excels in that skill. Endurance, strength, skill, puzzles, eating, and everything in between. CT dominates.
  2. Aviv Melmod is the biggest reason Darrell is considered one of the best competitors in challenge history. Aviv is a puzzle queen with endurance to match it. Her puzzle skill and fire was the biggest factor in separating her and Darrell from their finals opponents on Fresh Meat. She’s a combination of Diem and Evelyn. Heart, passion, smarts, and fire. While she only competed in one season, she showed a plethora of Challenge knowhow. If she would have returned to the show, she’d be recognized as one of the all time greats.
  3. Brittini Sherrod is another one hit wonder like Aviv. Although she didn’t quite reach the heights of her female partner, she showed that she doesn’t have a real weakness. She never gives up and maintained a close race against Rachel on Duel 2. Brittini will never flounder under pressure and will continue to push through any and all obstacles.
  4. Mike Boise only competed on one season, but it was quick to see the relation between him and his brother Abram. Mike has GUTS! While he hated the house environment, Mike showed excellent know how. He’s an in shape guy who attacks any obstacle tactfully. Mike and CT are a great fit together, because no matter how hard CT pushes, Mike will respond. His all around knowledge and skill will prove useful in a final.
  1. Derrick K- Arguably one of the best players in eliminations due to his tenacity. Always will compete has a never-say-quit attitude as evidenced multiple times. Is a multi time champion and has the cardio to crush any final. Is aware of shortcomings and is willing to sit back in puzzles and let those strong on his team due their thing. Is ready to crush any final!
  2. Veronica - Forgotten how dominant she was in her prime is a 3x champion who got better every season she was on. Won 4 life savers on the inferno. Has no glaring weakness is a strong female who is smart at puzzles and has the cardio to keep up with her team while also being able to mentally break her opponents!
  3. Amanda - Is a very loyal player and will compete as hard as she can in anything she does while also making sure her voice is heard. Arguably the best player in the lavender ladies. In invasion she showed how dominant she is at puzzles by solving her puzzle in minutes during the blood bath while other players were at it for an hour. Has the strength to pull her weight on any challenge. Has shown she is in great shape and has never shown signs that she would struggle with a final.
  4. Nehemiah - Is an all around player and is a 1x champion. Came into rivals shredded and in the best shape he has ever been in. Was carrying his team with an overweight Evan and proved that he is capable of running a final and competing to win. Has the body size to provide the muscle and really crush anything while also having a good mind when it comes to the tough aspect of using your brain.
Cutthroat Final Description
(Thank you to u/honestkodaline for this description!)
Road Rules Bracket
Match: u/scyth13r vs. u/phillyfly11’s “CJ’s Angels”
Final: Battle of the Bloodlines
[u/phillyfly11] “CJ’s Angels”
Winner’s Logic
  1. Frank Roessler Gauntlet III - The leader and backbone of his team. A smart physical competitor, the Veterans constantly targeted Frank. He prevailed in eliminations and his team took home a controversial W in the final.
  2. Luke Wolfe Cutthroat - Finishing ahead of the almighty Landon in elimination wasn't enough losing due to a puzzle in FM2, Luke carried his weight, and Abrams, and Sarah's, and Cara Maria's in the final of Cutthroat. Had the almighty Abe and Sarah been medically DQ'd sooner he would have won the final.
  3. Sylvia Elsrode Final Reckoning - Boasting a questionable 2nd place finish in a final, she did the thinking, the planning, and the puzzles for her team. She also tied Joss' shoes for him.
  4. Evelyn Smith Rivals - It’s Evelyn fucking Smith.
[u/phillyfly11] “CJ’s Angels”
  1. Emily Schromm, Rivals 2: In the wise words of the Godfather Mark Long, “She competes like a dude.” The most physically fit female competitor ,Emily dominated Rivals 2 with 6 daily wins en route to winning the season.
  2. Ashley Kelsey, Invasions: I chose this version of Ashley because she was in better physical shape and has running and winning a final experience and a great team player.
  3. CJ Koegel, Battle of the Seasons 2: Was the Leader of Team Cancun that won 2 dailies and was a part of the major alliance. He proved his ability to think on his feet and his physical strength by defeating Roided up Zach in his HALL BRAWL heat.
  4. Mike Boise, Bloodlines: One of the top performers the entire season, he proved that he wasn’t afraid of any task, asking multiple times to get thrown into elimination and that he has a killer mindset during competition."
Battle of the Bloodlines Final Description
Thanks to u/harsh-femme for this extraordinarily thorough rundown!
Match 2.0: u/dirtykilla36 vs. u/hkotila’s “Satan’s Asshole”
Final: The Gauntlet 2
[u/hkotila] “Satan’s Asshole”
Winner’s Logic
  1. First of all, my team Is comprised of all previous winners, so they’ve been there before and nerves won’t be an issue.
  2. Wes and Melinda were on the real world together and have a decent relationship that would Work to their advantage.
  3. My team has shown excellent mental and intestinal fortitude, so the eating portion wouldn’t serve as any type of problem.
  4. My team also consistently displays toughness, and mental superiority, so the final portion of walking on hot coals shouldn’t be any hindrance in winning the $$.
[u/hkotila] “Satan’s Asshole”
  2. Dan: One of the top two performing males on this season which included Mark Long, Abe, The Miz, Derrick, and Brad... Also:
  3. Amanda: Solid at most aspects of the game, IMO probably the second-best puzzle solver to appear on the challenge.
  4. Mattie: Top 3 most physically imposing females to be cast behind Laurel and Late career Emily. A lot of shit has been talked on here about her stamina. Just remember, wherever you have Mattie ranked on endurance Georgia needs to be behind her. Plus she ran like 16-20 miles on a sand dune and was keeping pace with Cara during that time. Most finals don't even have a course even close to as brutal as that final meaning she will do fine on every other final
The Gauntlet II Final Description - Thanks to my post partner u/MandyMTV for writing this. Let’s have a moment of silence for our partnership, as it has now become a one-man operation because she mysteriously disappeared. (Side note, I heard from her on Saturday and she is alive and well.)
Which of these teams deserves to move on in our quest to discover The Challenge Fantasy Draft’s Biggest Loser? You decide.
Voting ends at 10 PM EST Monday, February 17.
submitted by ND_PC to MtvChallenge [link] [comments]

My Vegas trip report for 12/25 - 12/30

I had the holidays to myself this year (mid 30s bachelor, siblings were with in-laws) and had a comped room at Aria so I made a trip to Vegas from San Francisco, CA. I had told myself I will take a day off the Strip to visit Fremont.
My strategy - This is a more aggressive style I've been playing this holiday season. Before I never pressed my bets and it was just a grind session. While this trip was a negative, I believe that if I did not press my bets on the hot shooters, my losses would be greater and my wins would be less. The data does not show the times where I was out 75% of my buy-in and a hot shooter came in to save my ass
  1. Make the pass line bet for minimum. On $5 tables, I went max odds up to 5x. On $10, $15, $25 tables, I went with 1x, 2x, 3x.
1A) If the dealer is friendly and making jokes and small talk, I would bet $1-$5 on the pass for them.
2) I place all the inside numbers 5, 6, 8, 9 for the minimum bet.
3) If the point is 4, 6, 8 10, I make a two way hardway for just the point number for $5 and $1 tip
4) If there is the ATS bonus, I typically played it. On $5 tables, I bet two way 212 ($2 All Small, $1 All, $2 All Tall). At $10 and $15 tables, 555 for me, 212 for dealers
5) I try to press my wins up to quarters (for 5/9, it goes along $5 > $10 > $25. for 6/8, $6 > $12 > $24 > $30) before collecting.
5A) If it's a cold table and I'm in the red, I would collect the first win before pressing.
5B) If I have successfully pressed it up to quarters, if I collected a win off the pressed bet, and if I had already made a good profit (more than 50% of my buy-in, I keep pressing up past $100.
6) If the table is cold, I give it 2 go-arounds to see if it heats up. If a shooter had a hot roll, I play 1 more go-around to see if they still got heat.
7) After color up, I leave all the loose $1 and $5 chips on the table

Some highlights
  1. Another player and I both hit either All Tall or All Small for $5 each several times in a session
  2. At Planet Hollywood, I bought in just as a shooter started to heat up. He was a new player so he only had the pass line, no odds, and the field. I had my inside numbers pressed up to $100+ each. Made $500 off the guy's roll and his own stack never grew. We kept telling him to place odds and to play the numbers, but he kept his own style. I was the next shooter and rolled for 25 minutes, again pressing several up past $100+
  3. At MGM Grand, we had a hot shooter and the dealer was just giving a lot of us shit for not pressing enough or adding to our bets. I had pressed up to $100+ and he just kept shaking his head at us. The players next to me never pressed.
  4. At Bellagio, I stepped in just as a quiet older lady started her roll. She had a hot roll and hit the points instantly several times, hitting several hard points, and I had pressed up again. She only made one side of the bonus and it got me out of the red. I head over to Park MGM and 30 minutes later she joins the table. This time she hits the bonus for my 555/212 bet. Session ended with $1200 profit. If you wanted to know - she always played stick left, no dice setting, just picked it up, and flicked the dice like a lady throwing her silk handkerchief
  5. At Excalibur, I stepped into a roll in progress. For some reason, the other side of the table had the puck off and I bought in mid-roll. This is my personal NO-NO rule. I would have waited it out, but I made a mistake and disturb the roll. The guy was hot and I pressed my $5 to $100. After he PSO, I just colored up.

Some take-aways
  1. My best sessions were just being in the right place at the right time.
  2. The female players had the best rolls. The better ones were playing besides their husbands. Single women, not too "hot"
  3. Set the dice if you want and if you believe. No one cares as long as you're winning. One beginner shooter had a hot roll, but he had the worst roll style in the world. The dice wouldn't even make it down the table, it slipped out of the hand, if he manages to get it down the table, he chucked it so hard it destroyed all the stacks.
  4. TIP THE DEALERS!! I played and tipped constantly at Park MGM and the dealers recognized me every night. They even talked to the pit boss to let me play with the lower minimum if they had just upped it before I joined in. I tipped at every table during the entire trip so the dealers knew my bets and would remind me if I had missed something.

Day Date
Casino Table Minimum Odds Length of Play Buy-in Color Up Rounds Comments

Wednesday 12/25
Aria $15 3, 4, 5 1:20 $600 $300 3 rounds
Planet Hollywood $15 3, 4, 5 1:00 $600 $1500 2 shooters 30 min roll, follow by 25 min roll. Couldn't see the dancing girls from the craps tables
Paris $10 3, 4, 5 1:30 $600 $175 2 rounds
Bally's $10 3, 4, 5 0:25 $300 $135 1 round This felt like a Reno casino
Day Total $2100 $2110 well.....what a haul
Thursday 12/26
MGM Grand $15 3, 4, 5 1:20 $600 $1075 3 rounds
Mandalay Bay $10 3, 4, 5 0:30 $475 $305 3 rounds It was dark and empty
Luxor $10 3, 4, 5 0:30 $305 $105 6 shooters One table, too close to other games
Excalibur $5 3, 4, 5 0:30 $500 $825 1 shooter
Park MGM $10 3, 4, 5 2:00 $700 $1400 6 rounds Bonus All Tall x 2
NY NY $10 3, 4, 5 0:30 $500 $260 1 round It felt cramped due to it being placed underneath some overhead structure
Day Total $3080 $3970 Much better this time
Friday 12/27
Cromwell $15 100 0:20 $500 $185 1 round Did not like the atmosphere
Flamingo $10 3, 4, 5 0:40 $500 $355 1 round
Linq $10 3, 4, 5 0:20 $220 $170 2 rounds Felt like a shopping mall
Mirage $10 3, 4, 5 2:00 $500 $700 5 rounds Lots of open space around the tables
Aria $15 3, 4, 5 1:00 $860 $490 4 rounds
Bellagio $15 3, 4, 5 1:45 $1490 $1500 5 rounds Too many reserved tables for $50, $100, and $300 min
Aria $25 3, 4, 5 1:45 $2000 $1500 7 rounds
Park MGM $15 3, 4, 5 1:15 $500 $1700 2 rounds Bonus ATS
Day Total $6570 $6600 Down then back up
Saturday 12/28
Four Queens $5 5 1:15 $200 $400 4 rounds
The D $5 10 1:45 $400 $700 1 round Cutest cocktail waitresses in LV
Fremont $5 2 0:30 $200 $140 1 round
Binions $5 3, 4, 5 0:30 $240 $275 1 round One table had cute female dealers in ref stripes
Golden Nugget $10 10 0:45 $375 $430 2 rounds Bonus All Small
Golden Gate $5 10 1:00 $530 $140 3 rounds
Plaza $5 10 0:30 $340 $240 3 shooters One table, felt like an old gambling hall
Main St Station $5 20 0:15 $220 $380 1 round
California $10 2 0:30 $380 $265 1 round All older asian men
Aria $15 3, 4, 5 1:00 $1000 $635 3 rounds
Park MGM $10 3, 4, 5 1:15 $635 $385 3 rounds
Day Total $4320 $3990 Oh no
Sunday 12/29
Excalibur $5 3, 4, 5 3:00 $1000 $300 6 rounds
MGM Grand $15 3, 4, 5 0:45 $800 $825 1 round
Park MGM $10 3, 4, 5 1:15 $825 $700 2 rounds
Aria $15 3, 4, 5 1:45 $1500 $560 5 rounds Some NBA players had a reserved table. I didn't see their bets but people kept asking them for pictures which they seem cool about
Day Total $4125 $2385 Oh NOOO

Sessions up Sessions down Length of Play Total in Total out Times as Shooter
13 out of 33 20 out of 33 ~ 37:00 $20395 $19055 ~70 - 80
submitted by mastercave to Craps [link] [comments]

[OC] (Mildly) Bold Predictions for Each Team in the West

On the heels off even less bold predictions for the East yesterday, we launch into the West today.
Remember, these rankings and records are for the regular season not the playoffs. However, if there's time before the games tip off tonight, I'll try to launch into my deep dive playoff predictions as well.
(15) Memphis Grizzlies
projected record: 24-58
Memphis fans are excited about their young core, especially the 1-2 punch with rookie PG Ja Morant and PF/C Jaren Jackson Jr. That said, that's an extremely YOUNG core, with both players still only 20 years old. Typically, that's a losing formula in the NBA. Morant may struggle with turnovers and his FG%, while JJJ still needs to learn to pick his spots defensively to avoid foul trouble. The future may be bright, but the present could be rocky. I'd project them to win well "under" their oveunder of 27 wins.
But let's stick to some positive here, as we did with Cleveland and Charlotte before them. With Zion Williamson banged up, Ja Morant has a very good chance to win Rookie of the Year. In fact, I'd project him as a league leader. Ja Morant will have the most turnovers in the league, but also finish in the top 3 in total assists. After all, consider the league leaders last year. Russell Westbrook (10.7) should have less responsibility in Houston. Kyle Lowry (8.7) and Chris Paul (8.2) will likely play less minutes as they age. Morant's biggest threat may be Trae Young (8.1 last year.) Both Young and Morant will have the ball in their hands a ton, and should finish in the 8-9 assist range.
(14) Minnesota Timberwolves
projected record: 30-52
Ugh. I don't want to spend much time here. I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed. I previously wrote a long entry about how these Minnesota Timberwolves may be sleeping giant with the right offseason moves given the phenomenal talent of Karl-Anthony Towns.
Instead, they had a flop of a summer with hardly any moves of note aside from a trade-up to draft Jarrett Culver, a questionable shooter to go alongside their other questionable shooter in Andrew Wiggins. Meh. No bold prediction here aside to say I won't be writing much about the team this year unless KAT gets more frustrated than I am and starts grumbling about a trade.
(13) Phoenix Suns
projected record: 31-51
It may feel like a lifetime ago, but the Phoenix Suns actually had a higher oveunder than the Sacramento Kings last year. As the thinking goes: they had the better young big man (Deandre Ayton vs. Marvin Bagley) and the more proven SG scorer in Devin Booker. Eventually, the abundance of young talent would tip over to W-Ls. As it turns out, that happened in Sacramento instead.
I'm not projecting a similar upswing for Monty Williams and Phoenix here, but some modest gains are reasonable. And more than anything, Deandre Ayton should prove that he's the real deal and much more than "not-Luka Doncic." In fact, I predict that Deandre Ayton (and Marvin Bagley) crack the 20-10 mark this season. It's an easier template for Ayton himself after he registered 16.3 PPG and 10.3 REB last year. With extended minutes (only 30.7 per game last season) and extended responsibility on offense, 20-10 is clearly within his sights. The guy simply has a polished offensive game far beyond his years. I'd even estimate that he can get up to the 24-25 PPG mark as soon as next year, with possibly some All-Star appearances to follow.
(12) New Orleans Pelicans
projected record: 33-49
Prior to the news about Zion Williams' extended absence (projected 6-8 weeks), the New Orleans Pelicans felt like a sleeper playoff pick. This is a talented team. In fact, it almost feels like TWO talented teams, squashed together. There's the young rebuilding team (Zion, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Nickel Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes) and the solid veteran team (Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick, E'Twaun Moore, Derrick Favors.)
If coach Alvin Gentry and assistant Chris Finch could have found the right mix, this team may have won 40+ games. However, that appears a tall task now that Williamson will be out for a while. To take it a step further, I'm going to project that the Pelicans have serious internal debates about not playing Zion Williamson at all this season. That may sound like a wild panic move, but it's not really. After all, you don't want to mess with the health of your franchise player. Moreover, this team may start slow (say 15-25) and put the playoffs out of the window anyway. And while we're not supposed to factor these things in, shelving Williamson would keep him eligible for Rookie of the Year honors next season (a la Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons before him.)
(11) Oklahoma City Thunder
projected record: 35-47
After trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Sam Presti and the organization were supposed to embrace a full-on tank. While their boatload of R1 picks is a nice start, those mid-to-late R1 picks tend to be the most overrated assets in the NBA. To launch a true superpower, you need super talent at the top of the draft. Given that, it makes sense for OKC to trade away their veterans and plummet all the way down to the bottom 5.
But the clock is ticking and ticking and nearly run out. And here the Thunder are, with Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams still on the roster. This team is simply too good to lose 50+ games right now. In fact, I predict that the Thunder are above .500 over the first 40 games of the season. The "Ewing Theory" potential is off the charts. There's a real chance the Thunder follow the "rebuilding" Clippers template from last year and win 45 games despite themselves. However, the reason I said .500 for the first 40 games is because I'm not 100% sold on Chris Paul’s durability or his interest in staying here for the long haul. Gallo is also injury prone. If they go down, the team may sag, and the fire sale may begin.
(10) Dallas Mavericks
projected record: 39-43
The Dallas Mavericks are another trendy pick to make the playoffs. And there are some good reasons for that. While they only won 33 games last season, their expected W-L record was actually closer to a 38-44 team. If you add a healthy Kristaps Porzingis into that mix (along with solid additions like Delon Wright and Seth Curry), it's easy to imagine 43-44 wins.
That said, higher expectations usually come at a cost. If the team does not make a "leap," it may be seen as a disappointment. And if that happens, some heat may come the way of Rick Carlisle. Carlisle is clearly a great coach, but it's debatable whether he's the right coach for Doncic and Porzingis and company. These aren't your standard Spurs-Euros who are happy to be good soldiers; they're younger, hipper, and potentially more difficult to manage. And if Mark Cuban feels like there's a generational divide here, he has to side with the players over the coach. Sadly, I'm predicting that this will be Rick Carlisle's last season in Dallas.
(9) Sacramento Kings
projected record: 40-42
While advanced stats suggest that the Dallas Mavericks were actually better than their record last year, the Sacramento Kings were arguably worse. In fact, their point differential (-1.1) was nearly identical to Dallas (-1.2) despite a big difference in the standings. And that, despite some hot shooting that may regress. Buddy Hield is a good bet to stay above 40% from three, but I wouldn't count on a repeat performance of that from Harrison Barnes (40.8% for the Kings) or Nemanja Bjelica (40.1%).
While I do think the Kings will stagnate in the W-L column this season, their future is still bright as hell. I'm a big Marvin Bagley III fan, partly because I believe that he's capable of sliding over to the 5 and unlocking a potentially devastating offensive lineup (De'Aaron Fox, Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Barnes, Bagley.) However, if Vlade Divac and Luke Walton don't share the same fanciful vision that I do, then you'd have to expect the Kings to trade Bogdan Bogdanovic this season. Bogdanovic should get $15M+ on the open market, and that's hard to justify for a player that you don't see in the starting lineup. If the Kings get off to a slower-than-expected start, a deal like that may happen sooner than later.
(8) San Antonio Spurs
projected record: 44-38
Prior to Kawhi Leonard's infamous Zaza injury, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs were on an incredible run where they won 50+ games for 18 straight seasons. Over the last two years, they've "only" won 47 and 48 games respectively. Can they get back to that 50 win mark? Maybe. Getting Dejounte Murray back should help the Spurs' defense, which surprisingly sagged down to # 15 last season. Still, I'm not sure that Murray changes their ceiling at the end of the day. This team looks ticketed for 45-ish wins and a R1 exit.
For most franchises and most coaches, that's a fine place to be. But is that enough for Popovich? Now at 70 years old? Will he keep the eye of the tiger for much longer? He recently signed a 3-year contract extension, but Adrian Wojnarowski also gave the caveat that he'll still take his future on a "year-to-year basis." Exiting after this season and after the 2020 Olympics in London feels like a fitting send-off for Pop.
Much speculation has been made about his eventual replacement, whenever that may be. Assistant Becky Hammon would certainly be the biggest storyline, but my money is on Will Hardy getting named as the eventual replacement for Pop. This is obviously total speculation, but it makes sense in my head. Hardy is barely 30, but he's a bright rising star who could potentially take the reins for the next 20+ years himself in an ideal world. The fact that top assistants (and potential rivals) Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina left for other jobs adds more fuel to that conspiracy theory fire. And since we're just speculating wildly, let's give an even wilder theory. My podcast co-host Tyler Laurie predicted that the Spurs 2020-21 coach will be Brett Brown (after an exit from Philly.)
(7) Portland Trail Blazers
projected record: 47-35
Once a team gets within sniffing distance of the Finals, it's hard to go back to the end of the line again. With their boogeyman Golden State depleted, Portland should at least feel like they have a puncher's chance of winning the title. After all, they beat everybody's darling Denver Nuggets in the playoffs last year.
While this team is very good, "greatness" may still be one piece away. Specifically, the PF spot. Zach Collins can give them some minutes, but he's more likely a backup PF/C at this stage. Anthony Tolliver is underrated, but he's 34 years old. This team may need a more dynamic presence at the 4, and they may need to take a wild swing to make it happen. Danilo Gallinari (on a 1 year deal) is a dream option, but even if they can't make that happen, I can see Portland gambling on a Kevin Love trade. Love's contract is scary, but he makes a lot of basketball sense as someone who can rotate between PF and C and add a third scorer to the mix. Is it risky? Sure. But Damian Lillard is 29 years old right now, so there's some sense logic to take your swing while you still can.
(6) Los Angeles Lakers
projected record 48-34
Remember L.A. fans, this is a prediction for the regular season records, not the best teams overall. The Lakers and Clippers will absolutely be title contenders (and I may pick one of the two to win it all), but I'm less bullish on their ability to rack up wins in the regular season for different reasons.
For the Lakers, there's a concern about the various new pieces and how well they'll fit together. At the end of the day, it shouldn't be too hard. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are top 5 talents. If you put solid 3+D wings around them, they can absolutely win the title. Danny Green can absolutely fulfill that role. Avery Bradley should do a decent job (provided he guards PGs.) After that? It's hard to say. The most notable name is Kyle Kuzma, but I'm less sold on his ability to fill that 3+D function. His defense is shaky, and his 3-point shooting is as well (30.3% last year, 33.5% career.) In theory, Kuzma would fulfill a nice role as a complementary scorer, but if the Lakers stagger LeBron and AD's minutes, that virtue becomes less important as well. In fact, I'm going to say that Kyle Kuzma becomes the scapegoat for a lethargic start and gets traded for a veteran. Despite what he may say to the press, patience is not LeBron James' strong suit.
(5) Los Angeles Clippers
projected record: 51-31
The mere fact that I'm predicting the title favorite Clippers to only win 51 games (barely more than their 48 last year) qualifies as bold enough, thank you.
So what's with the skepticism/ridiculousness? A few reasons. The Clippers are loaded this year, but I don't anticipate them unlocking all those bullets in the regular season. Doc Rivers can afford to give Paul George an extended rehab, and he can afford to manage Kawhi Leonard's game load. I imagine Leonard will play more than the 60 he did last year for Toronto, but not too many more than 70. Remember, this is a player who's only averaged 62 games / 82 over the course of his career. Getting Leonard and George to the playoffs at 100% will be the most important goal this regular season. As long as they do that, the team should be happy.
(4) Golden State Warriors
projected record: 52-30
52 wins and the # 4 seed may be too ambitious for this limited roster, but I need an ambitious record to justify my prediction here. That is: Stephen Curry wins MVP (again).
Consider this: the last time we saw peak Steph Curry (prior to Kevin Durant), he scored 30.1 points per game and launched 11.2 threes per game (making 45.4%). I wouldn't necessarily say that Curry took a backseat to Durant over the last three years, but he at least took turns driving the bus. With KD gone and Klay Thompson injured, Curry will be getting all the work that he can handle. If Curry ups his three-point bombs in the same fashion that James Harden has done in the last few years (remember, going from 8.0 to 13.2) then what will that look like? Will Curry launch 14-15 threes a game? If he does, the records and MVP buzz will surely follow. Game to game and shot to shot, he can be even more of a cheat code than James Harden himself.
That said, the most underrated element of James Harden's game is his durability; the dude is a steel robot who can play 35 minutes a game for 80 games a year. Can Steph Curry do the same? At this stage of his career? TBD. That's the biggest hurdle that Curry will need to overcome to win MVP again, now at age 31. If he misses time, this season and this prediction could get ugly.
(3) Denver Nuggets
projected record: 53-29
Veteran teams like the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers usually coast through the regular season, figuring that they can turn on the gas in the playoffs. That's usually less true of young teams, who tend to go pedal to the medal (see: Milwaukee last season.) The Denver Nuggets have the luxury of making that type of effort, given all their young legs and all their depth. Given that, I'm expecting the, to push themselves in an effort to grab the # 1 seed, although I expect them to fall a little short of that goal.
However, the Nuggets should achieve some unique feats in the process. Among them, I'm predicting the Nuggets will have the most balanced scoring in the NBA, with EIGHT players averaging 10+ points. It's not as wild as it sounds. The Nuggets actually had 7 players achieve that mark last year, although PG Monte Morris barely made the cut with (10.4). Even if Morris slips under 10, we still may get up to 8. New addition Jerami Grant averaged 13.6 PPG for OKC last year, although his minutes should dip from 32.7 closer to the 25 range. Conversely, 25 minutes a night would be more than enough than Michael Porter Jr. would need to hit 10 PPG. He's such a natural scorer that he could go for 10+ PPG in 20 minutes in a reserve role.
(2) Houston Rockets
projected record: 56-26
The fact that the Houston Rockets get so little hype (compared to the L.A. teams) as a title contender is odd to me. After all, they have the most dominant offensive force in the game in James Harden (on a 3-year stretch where he's averaged 31.8 points and 9.2 assists a game.) And while their supporting cast isn't perfect, it's been good enough to average 57.7 wins in the regular season over those three years. Why shouldn't they be expected to win 55+ again?
I suppose some of the concern comes from Russell Westbrook and a perceived poor fit next to Harden. And to be honest, I'm as big of a Westbrook "hater" as anyone. That said, I recognize his talents. Among them: incredible effort and drive to succeed night in and night out. In fact, Westbrook has averaged 900 more minutes than Chris Paul over the past 3 regular season (average, not total.) That alone should buy James Harden a lot of rest. Although with that may come a decline in raw stats. To that end, I'm expecting James Harden to score 400 less points than last year. His scoring should sink down from 36.1 to the 31-32 range, partly due to reduced usage and partly due to increased rest. Harden may be an iron horse capable of playing 36 minutes a night, but hopefully he doesn't need to do that anymore.
(1) Utah Jazz
projected record: 57-25
Again, our bold prediction ties into the record, as Utah will grab the # 1 seed in the West.
How? Shooting. Spacing. Finally. Ricky Rubio: out. Mike Conley: in. Derrick Favors: out. Bojan Bogdanovic: in. It's hard to under-sell how major of an impact that may have on their offense this season. If you combine their averages, Rubio + Favors hit 1.4 of 4.7 threes per game last year (29.8%). Conley + Bogdanovic combined to average 4.2 of 10.9 (38.5%). Not only will those long bombers score on their own, but they should also create more space for Donovan Mitchell to work with inside.
If the Jazz can improve their offense (ranked 15th and 16th these last two seasons) closer to the top 10, Rudy Gobert and their defense should be able to do the rest. They've ranked in the top 3 in defense each of the last three years. The Jazz check all the boxes of a team that should roll through the regular season; they don't have many holes at all.
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nba [link] [comments]

NBA: All-Star Saturday Betting Preview and Picks NBA Betting Tips For Profit With Ted Sevransky Sports Betting 101: Top Beginners Mistakes in Betting the ... 800 - 666 - 24, +67.06 TAKE A LOOK INSIDE MY BASKETBALL BETTING MODEL Inside The Gambling Ring of NBA Referee Tim Donaghy - YouTube

This report includes betting odds and our expert NBA picks for todays game. Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Prediction, 9/24/2020 NBA Pick, Tips and Odds by Tony Sink - 9/23/2020 NBA betting remains one of the most popular forms of sports wagering, with the popularity of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and other stars driving the interest and the action. And while NBA point spreads factor in most discussions, more fans are handicapping OVER/UNDER lines and betting basketball props on Durant, LeBron and other top stars. After starting my tips for making money on the 2020 NBA Finals with a borderline philosophical piece of advice, it’s time for something concrete. I urge you to use multiple betting sites for several reasons. For a start, the lines and odds of the online sportsbooks for the NBA Finals are extremely competitive. Away from home, Red Bulls have had a mixed season. Their first 4 games were very poor, they got 2 draws against Columbus Crew and Sporting KC, (11th in Eastern Conference and 12th in Western Conference respectively) and lost to Chicago Fire and New England (9th and 8th in Eastern Conference). Insider Betting Tips for the NBA . Dave Schwab 10:53 Jul 13th, 2018 Insider Tips, Sports Betting. The NBA has grown in popularity with the fans over the past few years with high profile players such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry leading the way, but the league remains one of the favorites among avid sports bettors because of the consistent value it brings to wagering on the games.

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NBA: All-Star Saturday Betting Preview and Picks

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