Patty Mills & Aron Baynes Australian NBA Champions Tour Dates & Info

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Our Australian and San Antonio Spurs champions Patty Mills and Aron Baynes are touring Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Cairns and the Torres Strait Islands with the Larry O’Brien trophy and Aussie fans will get the chance to interact with the boys and congratulate them on winning the 2014 NBA Championship.


The 2014 San Antonio Spurs Australian Trophy Tour

  • Wednesday 15 July – Melbourne – Culture Kings Queen Street – From 4pm
  • Thursday 16 July – Sydney – Sunrise, St Martins Place From 9am & Culture Kings George Street – From 4pm
  • Friday 18 July – Canberra – Civic Square – From 12pm with clinics run by Basketball ACT afterwards. Details here.
  • Saturday 19 July – Brisbane – King George Square from 12pm & Culture Kings Queen Street Mall – From 4pm
  • Sunday 20 July – Cairns - Cairns Basketball from 12pm
  • Monday 21 July – Torres Strait Island – TBD – TBD

Australia is the third stop on the tour, they began in Argentina and New Hampshire and will proceed to travel to Italy, France, Canada, New York and California.

The Canberra dates will see Patty receive the keys to the city and there will be clinics for younger fans with details here.

The majority of the six countries and 12 cities visited on the tour represent the nationality of the players on the Spurs championship winning team. Italy is represented by Marco Belinelli, from France is Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, from Argentina is Manu Ginobili, from New Hampshire is Matt Bonner, from Canada is Cory Joseph, from New York is Danny Green plus Kawhi Leonard, Jeff Ayres and Austin Daye are from California.

The roster also includes Tiago Splitter from Brazil and Tim Duncan from the Virgin Islands (US).

Thier first stop was at Foot Locker in Melbourne today…


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An Aussie Fans Guide To The 2014 NBA Draft

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When is it?

Friday June 27 (2014)


Where is it?

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.


TV Coverage:

The draft will be shown on ESPN Australia (via Foxtel) and NBA.TV on NBA League Pass (free trial on now for the draft) live from 9:00 am AEST to 2:00 pm.


What is it?

The 2014 NBA Draft is the latest in what is an annual event in which the thirty teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft players who are eligible and wish to join the league. The draft is predominately made up of top U.S. college amatuers, but international players are eligible as well. Among them in 2014 is Australian point guard/shooting guard Dante Exum. Joining Exum in the draft class is fellow Australian and power forward Cameron Bairstow, who recently graduated from New Mexico.

The NBA Draft differs from that of the highly successful National Football League (NFL) Draft in that the order is determined in a different way and it only consists of two rounds of thirty instead of seven rounds of thirty-two. The NBA draft is determined by lottery as a means of discouraging ‘tanking’, but in the 2013 NBA season teams still appeared to be deliberately losing games. Why? Well the 2014 NBA Draft class is considered to be the greatest since the 2003 draft that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. It is so stacked with talent that even teams at the back end of the first round could come away with game-changing talents. This meaning a team picking in the top ten is going to land a future stud, hence the tanking.

Now explaining the lottery in detail would require another thousand word article so to put it simply, the fourteen teams that missed the playoffs are organized based on their record.  The team with the worst record gets the most ping-pong ball combinations, the team with the second worst record gets the second most combinations and so on. So in this years draft the Milwaukee Bucks received the most combinations (with 250 out of the possible 1000) and the Phoenix Suns, who narrowly missed the playoffs have just five combinations. Basically, the Bucks had a 25% chance of winning the number one overall pick and the eventual winners of the first pick the Cleveland Cavaliers had just a 1.7% chance. The final draft order is never really set until after the lottery due to the vast amount of trades that occur throughout the year. Three teams have multiple picks in the first round including the Phoenix Suns, the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, with the 76ers poised to improve greatly with two picks inside the top ten.

The final order is as follows:

NBA_Draft_2014_Order_Round_1


The Elite Prospects:

This year’s draft is considered one of the deepest in recent history and features many elite prospects. There is going to be debate about the No. 1 overall pick until the moment it is announced and currently there are four players in contention, including Australia’s very own Dante Exum. We will get to Exum later on.

Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas:

Before the recent college season Wiggins was labelled the best prospect since Kevin Durant and despite all the pressure on him from the “Riggins for Wiggins” media mantra he still managed to be one of the most productive players in the highly rated Big 12. Wiggins is your prototypical small forward with a seven foot wingspan to match his six-foot-eight height. To match that size Wiggins is incredibly quick and explosive off his feet, giving him the ability to press through gaps and attack the rim.

Defensively the tools are there for him be a lock-down defender at multiple positions. The biggest concern in Wiggins’ game is that he isn’t as aggressive as he should be. Wiggins will not slide past the Bucks at pick number two and could even find himself playing alongside last years number one pick Anthony Bennett in Cleveland.

Jabari Parker, SF, Duke:

Duke’s Jabari Parker is considered the most NBA ready of all the draft prospects and is the safest pick in the draft. Parker exploded onto the scene in 2013 with an outstanding start to the college season averaging 23.6 points and 8.7 rebounds on 60 percent shooting from the floor through his first seven games.

A guy measuring in at  six foot nine should not be able to handle the ball as well as Parker can. Parker can sink a shot from almost anywhere on the floor (finished his freshman season with 36% behind the arc) and has the ability to take a defensive rebound coast to coast for a one handed slam. Parker showed off his skill set playing against other elite prospects Wiggins and Embiid last November. Wiggins and Parker will most likely be the first two picked. In what order is where the dilemma lies.  He could become the face of the franchise for the Bucks, something they have lacked in recent years.

 

Joel Embiid, C, Kansas:

Embiid was widely considered to be the first overall pick until the news broke of a foot injury. Many will not consider him an elite prospect in the draft but with only a four to six month recovery period he is still a can’t miss prospect in this draft. Embiid is listed at  7’1″ with a ridiculous 7’5.75″ wingspan and that size means he takes up a ton of space in the paint, both in the air and on the ground.

Before playing basketball (lets remember he is fairly new to the game) he played soccer and volleyball; these sports enabled him to obtain phenomenal speed and agility for a big guy. Not only his he a great rim protector but also a great pick and roll defender. His overall offensive game is still a work in a progress but anyone who has been compared to Hakeem Olajuwon is definitely someone to consider early in the draft. Despite the foot injury look for Embiid to go somewhere in the top five.


The Aussies:

The two Australian prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft have both been publicly backed by Australia’s first ever NBA player Luc Longley. Longley has worked with both potential draftees and had nothing but praise for both of them. Longley told former NBL players Tommy Greer and Liam Santamaria on their Downtown podcast  that Exum is quick, has a great first step and can get his own shot at any time. When asked about ‘Bairs’ Longley stated that his first step is explosive and he can guard well in the pick and roll situation.

 

Dante Exum, PG, Australian Institute of Sport:

Those who have been following Dante Exum the last few months are well aware of his story. His father Cecil won a NCAA Championship in 1982  alongside Michael Jordan and James Worthy at the University of North Carolina. He was then drafted by the Denver Nuggets before settling in Australia and playing in the National Basketball League. Cecil finished his career in Australia and decided to continue his life down under.

Exum followed in his father’s footsteps and starting playing basketball. After many years of showing his skills to many league scouts, he turned down the offer to play college basketball in America and continued playing in the Australian National High School Basketball Championships, where he lead his team to a title.

Exum will go into the draft labelled as a “scoring point-guard” and has comparisons to the Penny Hardaway. Those type of comparisons can be put a lot of pressure on young players but from all reports Exum has an incredibly high basketball IQ and zero character concerns. His physical tools (he is 6’6”) create a mismatch at either backcourt position and he has the skill set to capitalize on it. Check out the array of talent in this package from the FIBA Under 19 tournament.

Put simply, Exum is the best point guard in this deep draft class and has the potential to be one of Australia’s greatest ever basketball players. Don’t be surprised if he goes number one overall but Philadelphia at pick three or Orlando at four are more likely.

 

Cameron Bairstow, PF, New Mexico

Bairstow’s draft stock is rising thanks to a break out senior season from the power forward in New Mexico. His physicality, energy and hustle has lead to him being penciled in as a possible top 50 selection from some draft scouts and has drawn comparisons to Nick Collison. From all reports his work ethic, determination and character are very impressive and it those qualities that have seen his game improve immensely. Bairstow led his conference in 2013 in both scoring and shooting with 20.3 points per game at an impressive 55.6% shooting clip. His size, skill and dedication make him an ideal candidate to come off the bench and provide strong minutes for whoever decides to draft him.

Bairstow could follow the career path of Patty Mills and Aron Baynes in that he finds his success early in his career from being an impact player of the bench, but with his work ethic he could shock a few teams and play some big minutes in 2014.


The team at US Sports Down Under wish all the Australians the best of luck in the draft and their NBA career!

Channel 7 Announce NFL Coverage On Australian Free To Air TV

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On a recent surprise trip down under, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush announced on the Sunrise TV program that Channel 7 will be showing the NFL on Free To Air TV for the next 5 years including 3 consecutive live games, ending with the blockbuster NFL Sunday Night Football, all live on 7mate.

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Reggie Bush on Sunrise this morning making the announcement

Channel 7 will also broadcast the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl live,  will show video clips online and will air specials such as Hard Knocks, Sound FX, A Football Life, Road to the Super Bowl, Road to the Playoffs and America’s Game.

Reggie Bush will be doing a fan meet and greet at Culture Kings in Sydney on Tuesday June 17 at 5pm.

 

Source: https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/soapbox/article/-/24243375/seven-the-official-nfl-broadcaster/

 

2014 NBA Finals Preview, Australian TV Info & Predictions

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WHAT IS IT?

The NBA Finals are contested by two teams, with one team representing the Western Conference and the other the Eastern Conference. They will play each other in a best-of-seven championship series to decide the 2013-14 NBA Champion.


WHO’S IN IT?

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Contesting the 2014 NBA Finals this year are the San Antonio Spurs who won the Western Conference Finals, and the Miami Heat who won the Eastern Conference Finals. If these team names ring a bell it’s probably because they were the 2013 NBA Finalists who went back and forth in an epic seven game series, won by the Miami Heat. The last time the NBA Finals were played by the same teams in consecutive seasons was back in 1997 and 1998 when the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls played and defeated the Utah Jazz in both years.

A rematch doesn’t take away any of the excitement, it only makes it harder to predict the outcome. There was no clear favourite last season and with a series that had many records broken, it was hardly to script. The performances of both teams throughout the season was ruthless, with the San Antonio Spurs clearly more dominant.

In 2013-14 the Spurs finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, a staggering 62-20. Their ‘big 3′ consisting of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili may be relatively old but they still contribute big time performances. None more important than what they receive from team captain Tim Duncan. After missing a layup to potentially secure the championship for the Spurs in Game 6 last season, a revenge inspired Duncan has propelled his Spurs back to The Finals. Duncan, almost single handedly, officially booked the Spurs’ place in The Finals on Sunday with three key baskets in overtime over Serge Ibaka to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Miami Heat were a step off their recent pace this season, with the effects of playing in four straight NBA Finals series taking their toll. Finishing the season 54-28 was still a noteworthy feat considering Dwyane Wade missed 28 games for various injuries and the rest he got from sitting out those games should help the Heat in this series. However, this series will have a larger implication on the perceived greatness of LeBron James. At times he’s been compared to Michael Jordan and more recently former Boston Celtic Larry Bird, to be ‘King James’ and a step above the rest, he must give more than he did in the last series against the Spurs to secure Miami another title.


WHEN IS IT?

Game one will begin at 11AM Friday June 5th, Australian time, from the AT&T Centre in San Antonio, Texas. The NBA Finals schedule has been change from a 2-3-2 format where teams with home court advantage (The Miami Heat last season, the San Antonio Spurs this season) had the first two games of the series and the last two (if necessary) at home, with the away team hosting the three games in the middle. Now the format follows all other playoff series, the 2-2-1-1-1 format which is displayed below.

Game 1:
11AM Friday June 6
Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Game 2:
10AM Monday June 9
Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Game 3:
11AM Wednesday June 11
San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

Game 4:
11AM Friday June 13
San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

Game 5:
10AM Monday June 16
x- Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Game 6:
11AM Wednesday June 18
x- San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

Game 7:
11AM Saturday June 21
x- Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

*x- if necessary


HOW CAN I WATCH IT?

The NBA Finals will be broadcast on ESPN Australia on Foxtel where all games are telecast live.

For those of you without Foxtel the NBA Game Time website allows you to watch all NBA Finals games live and on replay through subscription. It costs approximately $12 US if you pay for games individually and approximately $27 or $37 for access to the entire series and every 2013-14 NBA game dating back to October.


PLAYERS TO WATCH:

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Tony Parker:

The health of Tony Parker holds the biggest question mark entering this series. After an ankle injury in game 4 of the San Antonio Spurs previous series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he played game 5 and again aggravated the ankle, then played half of game 6 before he was pulled by coach Gregg Popovich.

With four days rest before game 1 of this series with the Heat, the Spurs are hoping it’s enough time for Parker’s ailing ankle to heal. His penetration into the paint is vital for the Spurs offense and his defence is underrated by most.

Dwyane Wade:

Even though there is a guy called LeBron James on his team who is without a doubt the best player on the roster, the Miami Heat go how Dwyane Wade goes. The Heat aren’t without health issues of their own, Wade these days is always being monitored and is being treated like a fragile relic when off the court to keep him at the peak of his game. At 32 years of age he is no Tim Duncan (Age 38, we’ll get to him later) but his knees have an extremely limited life now.

When Wade plays well the Miami Heat 99 times out of a hundred play well, when Wade is lacklustre or glued to the bench the Heat and LeBron James struggle. In games 1, 3 and 5 the Spurs won in the finals series last year, Dwyane Wade rarely got into the paint and played poorly.

Tim Duncan:

Another trip to the fountain of youth throughout the offseason has kept Tim Duncan looking spry at age 38, in his 17th NBA season. With avenging the agonising 2013 NBA Finals loss firmly on his mind since last June the man has been unstoppable. The last time the Miami Heat faced a power forward or centre anyway near the level of Tim Duncan, it was Al Jefferson of the Charlotte Bobcats who absolutely tore open the Heat defence when on the floor.

Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers gave the Heat minimal problems in the paint, Duncan is the best of the best and will take absolute advantage in the paint.

LeBron James:

The supporting cast of the Heat is weaker and older than it was 12 months ago, which makes the role LeBron James holds even bigger. With more miles on his legs and minimal opportunity for rest in the past four years, can he handle it? This is his biggest greatness test to date.

If he accomplishes a 2014 NBA Title and wins the three-peat, it will more than ever blur the lines that stand between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. There’s no doubting LeBron’s motivation, it’s his body that’s got to survive enormous minutes and hard fouls while staying the efficient, high scoring, high assisting, high rebounding player he is.

Kawhi Leonard:

San Antonio’s high flying but down to earth stud Kawhi Leonard will guard LeBron James just like he did in the 2013 NBA Finals. Not only did Leonard excel and become the closest thing to a ‘LeBron stopper’ that we’ll probably ever see, he contributed a consistent valuable contribution on the offensive end and took it to LeBron to expel energy on defence.

Last season he upped his rebounds from six per game during the regular season to nine per game during the playoffs and he held the biggest rebounding presence on the floor when Tim Duncan was on the bench. That’s not bad for a player who is 6″7. The future of the NBA is arriving in Kawhi Leonard.

Aussies Patty Mills and Aaron Baynes:

Both on the San Antonio Spurs roster, they almost became the last Australian’s to win an NBA Title since Andrew Gaze, who was also with the Spurs and won it in 1999. Patty Mills is receiving more playoff minutes than he was last season, so expect to see him quick firing on three pointers throughout the series and possibly seeing extended minutes if Tony Parker misses games due to injury. Aaron Baynes will receive some game time if any of the games in this series become lopsided, he would win a championship ring regardless if he plays or spends the entire time on the bench.


WHO WINS?

With not much confidence I pick the San Antonio Spurs to win in another seven game series.

Home court advantage is ever so critical in the finals, the Miami Heat had it last year and they won the series. This year it’s advantage Spurs. The Spurs are more motivated than the Heat after having a championship slip through their fingers with 30 seconds left in game 6. Advantage Spurs. All the Spurs players except for Marco Belinelli have played strong in the playoffs to date as they have the deepest bench in the league. The Heat have some players from their bench struggling and are placing more pressure on the starters. Advantage Spurs.

With these differences there is still no denying the talents of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade because as of now they are still the NBA champions who defeated the Spurs, although San Antonio is reloaded with a bigger attack forthcoming and it’s yet to be determined whether it’s an attack the Miami Heat can overturn.


 
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2014 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Preview, Australian TV Info & Predictions

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What Is It?

The Stanley Cup Final best-of-seven championship series to decide the 2013-14 National Hockey League champion.


 Who’s In It?

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The 2014 Stanley Cup Final pits the New York Rangers from the Eastern Conference against Western Conference champions, the Los Angeles Kings, for a shot at hockey immortality. It’s fair to say that both teams are surprise finalists. Most thought that either Pittsburgh or Boston would represent the East, and it was theorised that Chicago or San Jose would likely emerge from the battleground that the Western Conference has become.

As far as the Vegas odds makers and most hockey pundits are concerned, the Kings are warm-to-hot favourites, and it’s generally accepted – even by Ranger fans like myself, and New York head coach Alain Vigneault – that New York will have to be perfect in every facet of the game if they’re to have a chance at hoisting Lord Stanley. Los Angeles, the 2012 Stanley Cup champions, beat San Jose in seven games (after being down 0-3), their cross-town rivals Anaheim in six and red-hot favourites Chicago in seven riveting games, two of which featured overtime periods. It was one of the great playoff series in history.

New York are making their first appearance in the Final since Mark Messier’s famous squad won it all in 1994, two decades ago – a moment that brings great warmth to the hearts of all Rangers fans, including mine. Their playoff run included a victory in seven games over Philadelphia, a seven-game series against Pittsburgh (they were down 1-3) and a controversial six-game win over an undermanned Montreal Canadiens team.


When Is It?

Game One takes place Thursday morning, Australian time, from Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Games Two and Three are in New York, at Madison Square Garden. Game Five is back at Staples, Game Six in New York and Game Seven, if necessary, shifts back west to Southern California.

Game 1:
Thursday, June 5
NY Rangers at Los Angeles

Game 2:
Sunday, June 8
NY Rangers at Los Angeles
Game 3:
Tuesday, June 10
Los Angeles at NY Rangers

Game 4:
Thursday, June 12
Los Angeles at NY Rangers

Game 5:
Saturday, June 14
x-NY Rangers at Los Angeles

Game 6:
Tuesday, June 18
x-Los Angeles at NY Rangers

Game 7:
Thursday, June 19

x-NY Rangers at Los Angeles
*x – if necessary


How Can I Watch It?

FOX Sports Australia is broadcasting the entirety of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final in high definition, beginning with Game One on Thursday morning at 10.00am, Australian time. The game will also be available to stream via Desktop, Mobile or Tablet on NHL Game Center.

In America, the host broadcaster is NBC, whose commentary team features hockey’s pre-eminent play-by-play man, Mike “Doc” Emrick, alongside analyst and former Stanley Cup winner Eddie Olczyk and the incredibly-polarising Pierre McGuire, reporting from between the benches.


Players To Watch:

Jonathan Quick: Where the Rangers were aided by the series-ending injury to Montreal’s star goalie Carey Price in the Eastern Conference Final, they will be hindered by the presence of Kings net-minder Jonathan Quick in the Stanley Cup Final. Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy for Playoff MVP when LA last won the Cup, in 2012. As he goes, so do the Kings.

In the Western Conference Final, there were some periods where he didn’t look all that good, as Chicago scored multiple goals in quick succession, but the Team USA Olympic net-minder is still one of the top goalies in the League, and made big saves when it was absolutely necessary. He will not make things easy for the Rangers. A Kings win might net him another Conn Smythe Trophy to go with a second Stanley Cup title in three years.

Henrik Lundqvist: At the opposite end of the ice, waits the King, Henrik Lundqvist. New York’s best player will have to be absolutely superb in net for the Rangers if they are to have any chance of shutting down a Kings team chock-full of offensive firepower. Lundqvist has won everything a player can win, including Olympic Gold with Sweden in 2006 and silver this year in Sochi. The only thing missing from an impressive resume is the ultimate prize, a Stanley Cup championship. If New York win, it will be because of Lundqvist, and, in that scenario, you can just about pencil him in for Conn Smythe Trophy honours, too.

Marian Gaborik: A trade deadline acquisition for Los Angeles, the Slovakian sniper, a former Ranger star, is enjoying an unbelievable purple patch of form. He leads the entire League in playoff goals, the spark for a Kings squad that was the lowest-scoring of all those who made it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Fast forward three rounds, and they are the highest-scoring team. Gaborik is emblematic of that. No one saw this post-season domination coming. Least of all New York fans who suffered through seasons of Gaborik appearing unstoppable one game, and missing in action the next.

Martin St Louis: Undoubtedly, the feel-good story of these playoffs, St Louis came over from Tampa Bay to New York at the trade deadline, the All-Star forward was rocked by the death of his mother during the Pittsburgh series. His tragic situation has galvanised the Rangers, bringing them back from one-game-to-three deficit against the Penguins, and now they’re in the Cup Final.

Importantly, St Louis knows what he’s doing in this arena: he won Lord Stanley in 2004 for Tampa, alongside current NYR teammate, Brad Richards. A proven playoff performer, St Louis is a guy who absolutely has to stand up for New York if they’re to have any chance of pulling off an unlikely victory.

Jeff Carter: When it comes to scoring, the Kings have what amounts to an embarrassment of riches, and Jeff Carter just about tops them all. The centrepiece of what has been dubbed ‘That 70′s Line’, Carter, with young line-mates Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, represent what might be Los Angeles’ most dominant line. It seems that one of these three has been able to conjure a goal whenever the Kings have needed it badly.

It’s not a stretch to think that Carter and co will attract the attention of the Rangers’ top defensive pairing. Not that it seems to matter: these guys can apparently score on anyone at any time. Just ask Chicago’s All Star defencemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The Carter-Toffoli-Pearson line gave them fits. They figure to do the same to New York’s corps of defencemen.


Who Wins?

As much as I hate to say it, the Kings look the goods here. They simply have too much firepower, guys on every line who’ve scored clutch goals all throughout these playoffs. I worry about New York’s chances of keeping four lines quiet for the entire series.

No other team’s been able to do it, including some pretty good ones, like Chicago and San Jose. The Rangers certainly aren’t a bad team – there’s no such thing in the Stanley Cup Final – but I’m just not sure that they’re deep enough to match the Kings’ own goldmine of talent.

With that in mind, Los Angeles in six. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to hold out hope for a miracle.


 

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