Who are these imposters and where are the Blackhawks?
Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
Put your hand down. Yes, you. Stop it. You’re fooling nobody.
The Chicago Blackhawks, the top seed in the Western Conference, got swept by the Nashville Predators in the first round with a Game 4 loss on Thursday. This wasn’t just any sweep, mind you. It came packaged with little statistical nuggets that make us wonder what happened to the real Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks hadn’t been swept in the playoffs since 1993
That’s 24 years, mind you. I totally didn’t have to use a calculator for that because I’m good at math. That time it was the St. Louis Blues doing the sweeping, and that series is most remembered for Blackhawks goalie Ed Belfour losing his marbles over a goal against.
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne’s save percentage in four games: .976 percent
Chicago scored three times all series. Ridiculous.
Patrick Kane scored 34 goals in the regular season … and one goal in the postseason
Two straight playoffs of disappointment for the best American hockey player in the NHL today. Kane won the Hart Trophy last season and then only scored once in seven games in a first-round exit against the Blues.
This year? In four games, Kane had one point: a lone goal in a Game 3 overtime loss.
The odds were stacked heavily against a Chicago comeback
We’ve been spoiled with a few massive hockey comebacks over the last few years. Or, at least it seems like it. Heading into Game 4, only 2.15 percent of NHL teams down 3-0 in history had come back to win. That’s four out of 186.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the Variety Map Pack was released in 2008 for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It adds the same four maps from that expansion, Broadcast, Chinatown, Creek, and Killhouse, but with updated graphics.
The expansion costs $15. It also comes with 10 “Rare” supply drops, which contain cosmetic items. These are normally unlocked through gameplay or by spending real money.
All Call of Duty DLC now launches first on PlayStation as part of a timed-exclusivity deal between Activision and Sony.
Modern Warfare Remastered is only available through Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition. The package launched at $80, but you can find it for a lot less right now. It remains to be seen if Activision will ever release Modern Warfare Remastered on its own.
“And, you know, you’re talking about thousands of years … and many wars,” Trump was quoted as saying April 12. “And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy.”
But South Koreans say their nation was never part of China.
Arirang News, in the video above, called Trump’s remarks “ignorant” and quoted a government official as saying the comments are “clearly not true and not even worthy of response.”
The nation’s politicians are also making it clear what they think of the American president’s comments.
“The 50 million South Koreans, as well as many common-sensical people around the world, cannot help but feel embarrassed and shocked,” Youn Kwan-suk, spokesman of the main opposition Democratic Party, told The New York Times.
“This is clearly a distortion of history and an invasion of the Republic of Korea’s sovereignty,” Hong Joon-pyo, a conservative Liberal Korea Party candidate, said through a spokesman, according to The Hill.
“It’s a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years in history, Korea has never been part of China,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said at a briefing, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.
The newspaper said that since Trump and Xi spoke through interpreters, it’s possible something was lost in translation.
But if it wasn’t, there could be problems with China as well.
“If President Xi really did make such a remark, the Korean public would react sensitively, and because it is a historical issue, the government would need to take stern action,” a diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
Paul George is once again facing elimination in the playoffs at the hands of LeBron James.
Paul George’s free agency begins in the summer of 2018, so it’s easy to see why there is so much urgency with the Pacers front office to create a winning team now. As the Pacers trail the Cleveland Cavaliers 0-3 in their first round series, Paul George’s future becomes more and more unclear. Sure, it’s virtually impossible to beat LeBron in the first round of the playoffs. But Paul George has been so good, the Pacers could be up 2-1 if some things went differently here and there. If he had a better roster around him to push them over the hump, maybe they would have a chance in this series.
It’s been an odd season for George, as the Pacers spent the final hours of the 2017 trade deadline mulling trade offers for their All-Star. This series, or the failed attempts at the trade deadline aren’t what failed Paul George. The Pacers started doing that long ago.
Paul George is 26 years old, still in his prime (despite his leg injury), and one of the best two-way players in the game. He’s grown up with the Pacers since they drafted him No. 10 in the NBA draft in 2010.
Since he recovered in sparkling fashion from an awful leg injury in the summer of 2014, the Pacers have spent the past three years trying to surround George with talent. But while trying to develop an identity, they’ve continuously failed, putting groups of mismatched players with mismatched styles around George.
This is how they failed him.
In 2015 when George returned from his leg injury, the Pacers vowed to be a faster team. David West, the team’s vocal leader, took an $11 million pay cut to walk away. On the way out, he said he wanted to win now (hence, joining the Spurs) and didn’t like how Larry Bird treated Roy Hibbert in Bird’s postseason press conference. The Pacers then traded Hibbert to the Lakers.
The moves signaled a complete departure from the successful smash-mouth style that got the Pacers so far. That’s Bird prerogative and it’s fair to wonder if that style had run its course. The problem is that the Pacers didn’t do much else to help George accomplish this team-wide transition. They signed an aging Monta Ellis, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill, none of which moved the needle. Only Ellis remains, and he was benched earlier this season.
“I don’t think I’m at that point in my career where I should be changing positions. I think guys do that later in their career,” George said. “They put on weight, (begin) lacking physical attributes as far as being quick, so I don’t necessarily feel the need to play a different position, especially coming back into a new season and starting fresh again. So it’s a change, it’s definitely a change. We’ll see how it goes.”
“Well, he don’t make the decisions around here. I’m not going to get in a battle with Paul George on where he wants to play. He’s a basketball player. He can play any position you put him out there.”
Because of that rocky start, there was a constant struggle between George, the front office, and the coaching staff. They ultimately reached a truce: George played small forward and fellow wing C.J. Miles stepped up to try and fill the interior position. Miles missed several games throughout the course of the season with a back injury and fell into a shooting slump, both of which were certainly related to the toll playing the position took on him.
When it proved to not be enough, the Pacers fired beloved and highly successful coach Frank Vogel. The same Frank Vogel who had been there every step of the way for the Pacers as they tried to climb to the top of the East. Vogel was also the coach who took over when Larry Bird fired Jim O’Brien in 2011. He dug George out from the end of the bench where O’Brien had left him and let him turn into the player he has now become.
Vogel’s inability to make the new roster work with Larry Bird’s preferred style eventually caused his demise. But whose fault was that really?
Once again, Bird vowed there would be change and a faster tempo for Pacers in the 2016-2017 season. His first move was to hire Pacers assistant coach Nate McMillan without much of a public coaching search. The problem is, McMillan has never been known as a coach who excelled in pace. As a head coach, his teams finished 24th, 27th, 15th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 29th, 30th, 30th, and 30th respectively in pace. His teams have always been quite slow, in fact. Why was Nate McMillan the choice to coach a faster-paced team?
Bird then tradedGeorge’s best friend, George Hill, for a more traditional point guard in Jeff Teague. George and Hill fished together at their homes in Indiana. They even carpooled to practice together. But it’s a business, so George accepted it and moved on the best he could, won a Gold Medal in Rio, and repped the Pacers the entire time.
Heading into the 2016-2017 season, the Pacers also added Thaddeus Young via a trade, Al Jefferson, Aaron Brooks, and Kevin Seraphin. It’s hard enough for the Pacers to draw big time free agents, but it doesn’t help when the additions they do make don’t fit the desired style the front office is preaching. George has continuously said this season that he’s not having fun, and you can’t blame him with such a massive rebuild happening around him.
“This season hasn’t been fun. We’re trying to work through it. It’s been one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve been a part of,” George said to NBA.com
As the Pacers fell out of the playoff race in late in the 2016-2017 season, Larry Bird went a did something dramatic. He brought back Lance Stephenson. And to some degree it actually worked. Stephenson brought an energy to the team that the Pacers lacked all season. The fun Paul George wasn’t having? Lance Stephenson had that. The Pacers went on a five game win streak to end the season, sliding into the seventh seed in the playoffs. While Lance brought the fun back, Paul George won Eastern Conference Player of the Month averaging 32.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists through the final six games. For a brief moment in time, maybe Paul George’s future in Indiana would have a happy ending.
But here we are, once again, with Paul George looking at elimination at the hands of LeBron James. The Pacers had a chance to win Game 1 on the road but came up short. They also blew a 26-point lead in Game 3 at home. Neither of those things were Paul George’s fault. He’s one of the best two-way players in the game who has given everything to Indiana. But have they given it back to him?
We’re only 15 months away from George’s free agency, yet the Pacers have no real positive momentum. They still don’t know who they are as they build around George, Teague, and young big man Myles Turner. They pledged to provide George more help at this trade deadline and came up empty handed. They added Lance Stephenson, but you can’t count on him to save a franchise.
While the Pacers are guaranteed to have George through the end of next season, Pacers fans know barring a huge change that it’s a matter of when, not if, Paul George will leave.
In retrospect, maybe the Pacers really lost George in 2014 when they couldn’t beat a tired Miami Heat team that had been to the NBA Finals three straight times. Maybe their window closed then. But the Pacers have still failed to do right by their superstar since he returned from his horrific injury nearly three years ago.
It’s in Paul George’s best interests personally if he can be successful in Indiana. If he is able to receive the Designated Player Extension from the Pacers, he’ll make more money in Indiana than he could anywhere else. But even additional money won’t turn the Pacers into the contender George wants.
George has never been the Pacers’ problem. The Pacers have been Paul George’s problem. And unless the Pacers somehow build a contender by the end of next season, they’ll continue to be his problem. George does not want to leave, but unless something drastic changes, he won’t have any other choice if he wants to win.