Originally crowd-funded as the YRG-Pro Midi Guitar on Kickstarter back in 2012, Inspired Instruments’ flagship MIDI guitar has been reborn with a new name and improved functionality. Now called the Lineage, the device boasts full-scale strat-like look and feel, an onboard LCD GUI and a 10-hour battery life.
It’s two wins in two matches for Paris Saint-Germain after the French club defeated Italian side Fiorentina 4-2 Tuesday night in the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
It was the first time the two sides met in a competitive match. For PSG, the most successful side in France these past few seasons, they are a squad looking to become the most dominant side in Europe as they pursue a Champions League title. Fiorentina has aspirations just to make the competition as they look to break into the top three in Italy’s Serie A.
A tepid start saw the game bogged down in the midfield when it seemed that an errant play at the back would deliver a chance. Both back lines attempted a number of questionable passes that allowed the opposition a chance to develop a dangerous attack, but nothing came to fruition in the first 10 minutes.
One of Fiorentina’s brightest players at the start, Mario Gomez won a free-kick in the 11th minute, which was taken by Matias Vecino. From 25 yards out, Vecino’s booming effort struck the left post and ricocheted out of danger. Fox Soccer had the replay:
Paris Saint-Germain kicked things into gear after the early scare. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had their first real chance, receiving a cross from Gregory van der Wiel in the box but stabbing his effort tantalizingly wide in the 27th minute.
Fiorentina’s midfield was unable to grab a hold of the game. In the moments they had possession, the central striker Gomez, who was subbed out at halftime, was making very good runs but was never found, which added to his frustration.
PSG finally took advantage of their possession in the 35th minute as Ibrahimovic worked the ball out wide to Van der Wiel, who sent a low cross in front of the Fiorentina goal that was turned in by Blaise Matuidi, per Fox Soccer:
Their lead was doubled just six minutes later in the 41st minute as Matuidi played provider this time.
Fox Soccer showed a beautiful left-footed pass that sprang 18-year-old Jean-Kevin Augustin in, who sent a low shot with his first touch into the back of the net:
Fiorentina had the first chance of the second half when a deflected shot came to Ante Rebic on the left side of goal. His effort, whether it be a cross or shot we will never know, missed two teammates on the far post with nothing but an open goal in front of them.
Rebic did well to assault the left flank, and he was Fiorentina’s biggest threat in the second half’s early moments with the departure of Gomez.
Van der Wiel provided another excellent ball for PSG in the 58th minute, finding the foot of Ibrahimovic unmarked, but his effort was sent over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, it was substitute Joaquin Sanchez who pulled one back from Fiorentina out of nothing. With his first touch of the match, the midfielder unleashed a strike from over 20 yards out that left Kevin Trapp rooted to his spot, per Fox Soccer:
Joaquin sent Khouma Babacar in on goal just minutes later, but a vital tackle from Serge Aurier prevented Fiorentina from finding an equalizer. Fiorentina then had a goal disallowed in the 65th minute due to an offside call.
Fan-favorite Ibrahimovic restored PSG’s two-goal lead in the 69th minute by popping in a perfect ball sent in by Lucas Moura, as Fox Soccer showed. It would be the Swede’s last action of the night, as he was swapped out seconds after:
Augustin added his second goal of the night in the 75th minute. On the counter-attack, he found himself in a ton of space about 19 yards out, straight away from the Fiorentina goal. Unleashing a hard low shot, Fox Soccer showed his effort finding a way through the fingers of Luca Lezzerini.
The chances kept rolling as Giuseppe Rossi’s free-kick was handled by the PSG wall in the 78th minute, allowing the New Jersey native to step up in his home state and fire Fiorentina back within two, per Fox Soccer:
Blaise Matuidi: A
Matuidi was a dynamo in the midfield. Extremely inventive on the ball, he showed his distributing prowess paired with a ruthless striking display. With one goal and one assist, he and teammate Gregory van der Wiel were able to stretch out the Fiorentina defense and open a plethora of chances.
Jean-Kevin Augustin: B+
Augustin was the beneficiary of PSG’s ability to dominate the midfield. Giving the American public a first glimpse at what he is capable of doing, a two-goal performance in one of the first games of the preseason will give the 18-year-old plenty of confidence before the Ligue 1 season begins on August 7.
Mario Gomez: B
Only playing one half, Gomez found himself on an island of sorts during his time on the pitch. He was the quickest starter out of the gates, bounding on a few runs down the heart of PSG’s defense, but there was little support around him. He also showed wonderful vision to put himself in advantageous positions; however, the service from the midfield was slow to recognize his movement.
The first-ever National Basketball Players Association Awards were handed out Sunday, July 19 in Las Vegas, but the results of the voting were revealed in a nationally televised broadcast Tuesday evening.
While the league’s official hardware was handed out following the conclusion of the 2014-15 regular season, the NBPA Awards provided a chance for players to cast votes and recognize their peers for accomplishments made throughout one of the most entertaining campaigns in recent memory.
NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts explained the rationale behind the event in an official press release back on April 27:
Our players have long wanted to recognize greatness from within their own ranks, and with the first-ever Basketball Players Awards we have created a vehicle for them to do so. The level of participation from players in the voting process has been overwhelming so far and we are looking forward to unveiling all of the results this July in Las Vegas.
While the evening’s festivities doled out conventional awards like MVP, Best Rookie and Best Defender, the players also handed out trophies for Best Homecourt Advantage, Player You Secretly Wish Was on Your Team and Clutch performer, among others.
However, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe observed, the wording of one award could use some tweaking:
“We as players want the opportunity to recognize our peers,” Carmelo Anthony said, according to the NBPA press release. “We are making that happen with our own award show.”
Here’s a look at the complete list of winners from the inaugural event:
Best Defender: DeAndre Jordan
Kawhi Leonard bested DeAndre Jordan for Defensive Player of the Year honors at season’s end, but Jordan exacted a bit of revenge at the NBPA Awards by nabbing the Best Defender hardware.
It’s not hard to see why.
En route to being named to the All-Defensive First Team, Jordan averaged 2.2 blocks and one steal, making him and Anthony Davis the only players to boast that accomplishment last season.
According to SportVU player-tracking data, Jordan held opponents to conversion rates 2.7 percent lower than the league average inside of six feet. Overall, opponents shot 0.7 percent below the league average with Jordan as their primary defender.
With spring-loaded legs and a knack for altering shots at the rim, Jordan has emerged as one of the league’s most respected defenders even if he’s yet to establish himself as a master of advanced analytics.
“You can’t really stop him,” Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday told ESPN Insider’s Jeff Goodman on January 18. “Obviously, you slow him down. He likes 3s a lot so you try and run him off the line. You either just got to play it right or have him make a mistake.”
How about another ringing endorsement?
“You can’t,” Chicago Bulls floor general Derrick Rose said of stopping Curry, per Goodman. “You just have to contest. That’s the God’s honest truth. He’s got a God’s gift with his touch.”
Not only did Curry lead the league with 286 three-pointers, but his efficiency in pull-up and dribble-drive situations was staggering.
SportVU player-tracking data indicates Curry nailed 44 percent of his total pull-up shots, including a staggering 42.3 percent from beyond the arc. Furthermore, Curry converted on 53.4 percent of his drives, per SportVU, which ranked No. 7 overall among players who attempted at least five drives per game.
And let’s not forget the passing.
Curry averaged 7.7 assists throughout the 2014-15 season, and that number put him in some impressive company.
“Curry, ever the master of the one-handed pass off the bounce, improved his assist-to-turnover ratio—a big knock on him in 2013-14—and now stands as one of the top 10 dime-dropping MVPS of all time,” Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal wrote.
With arguably the most aesthetically pleasing game in the league, Curry’s prime should be a joy to watch unfold over the next few seasons.
Most Valuable Player: James Harden
Incidentally, the nominees for Hardest to Guard and Most Valuable Player were identical.
But the winners were not.
Harden took home NBPA MVP honors after a standout 2014-15 season that saw the bearded 2-guard average a career-best 27.4 points, seven assists and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three.
The Rockets’ official Twitter account congratulated Harden on the triumph:
Simply put, the Rockets were helpless without Harden.
According to NBA.com, Houston’s offensive rating dropped by 14 points per 100 possessions when Harden was on the bench. Numerically, that means Houston scored 107.7 points per 100 possessions with Harden on the floor and 93.7 when he sat. Had that mark of 93.7 spanned the entire season, it would have ranked ahead of only the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.
Throughout the course of the 2014-15 season, Harden could be found carrying the Rockets on his back thanks to his flair for isolation theatrics.
According to Synergy Sports play-type data, he compiled 576 isolation possessions last season—118 more than LeBron. During those possessions, Harden scored the rock at a 1.01 point-per-possession clip, which put him in the 89th percentile for isolation scoring.
Harden only received first-place nods from 20 percent of voters on this year’s official ballots submitted by the media, but in the eyes of fellow players, his performances were consistently the most game-changing.
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