NBA predictions 2015-16

After a tremendous postseason, when the Golden State Warriors reigned victorious, there were still a lot of questions to be answered. What if they played the Spurs? What if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were all healthy? All these questions still remain. At the same time, the Warriors are getting a lot of heat from other teams that remain unconvinced that they’re the champs. A great offseason has led to some powerful additions to many teams which will make this year all the more competitive. So, here are my predictions for the upcoming NBA season:

East Standings:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Atlanta Hawks
  8. Charlotte Hornets

West Standings:

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Los Angeles Clippers
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

Conference Finals Matchups:

Cavaliers vs. Heat

Rockets vs. Thunder

NBA Finals Matchup:

Cavaliers vs. Thunder

Awards:
Scoring leader: Kevin Durant, Thunder

Rebounds leader: DeAndre Jordan, Clippers

Assists leader: Rajon Rondo, Kings

3pt % leader: Stephen Curry, Warriors

Blocks leader: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Rookie: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Coach: Greg Popovich, Spurs

Defensive: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Most Improved: Michael Carter-Williams, Bucks

MVP:  Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

What are your predictions for the upcoming NBA season?

Check out previous posts on Second Take with Spencer A here

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, an 11th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

MLB Playoffs

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The following is a guest blog by my friend, Ian Kaufman. An avid sports fan, Kaufman has a lot more knowledge about baseball than me which makes him the perfect person to share his MLB Playoff predictions on my blog. 

The MLB season has been nothing less than entertaining and wild. With the rise of the new, young and extremely talented teams, the road to the World Series is going to be one that isn’t forgotten. So, here are my predictions for how it will pan out:

ALDS: 

Rangers over Blue Jays, 3-1

The rangers have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead and are now coming home. Their whole lineup is clicking at the right time.

Royals over Astros, 3-2

The Royals are more experienced and their style of play is more consistent than the strikeout prone Astros.

NLDS: 

Cardinals over Cubs, 3-1

The Cubs have several rookies and young players against the Cardinals who are savvy veterans.

Dodgers over Mets, 3-2

Similar reasoning here for the Dodgers and Kershaw and Greinke are the best 1-2 pitching duo in the league.

ALCS:

Royals over Rangers, 4-3

The Royals’ bullpen can shut down any team and they have more overall talent as a team than the Rangers.

NLCS:

Cardinals over Dodgers, 4-3

The Cardinals have more depth than the Dodgers who are top heavy. The Dodgers bullpen is always concerning and Kershaw has struggled against the Cardinals several times during the playoffs.

World Series:

Cardinals over Royals, 4-2

There can be a case for many teams to to win the championship including the Blue Jays or even the Mets. The reason behind my pick is that the Cardinals are a model of consistency and have overcome many injuries of key players. Also, the Royals pitching has been inconsistent at best, so in the end, the superior pitching will prevail.

Ian Kaufman is an 11th grader from New York, New York. His favorite sports to watch and play are baseball, basketball and football and his favorite teams are the Yankees, the Chiefs and the Nets. 

About Me:

I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, an 11th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NFL Predictions 2015

 

It’s that time of year again- time for football! With a tremendously wild offseason with the ruling on deflate-gate, the big free agent signings, the draft and much more, it’s time to get started. Hopefully, my predictions will be slightly more accurate than last year although I did pick the Super Bowl correctly, I had Raiders at 9-7. Let’s hope that changes.

AFC

Division Winners

New England Patriots: 11-5

Although they lost Darelle Revis, Vince Wilfork and Brandon Browner, they still have Tom Brady for all 16 games. The AFC East has vastly improved, however the Patriots still have the best coach in football and while they did get slightly worse, they’ll find a way to pull through.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5

The Steelers time has come again. Antonio Brown has become a bonafide star receiver and with the help of Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers will be able to muscle past the Ravens and secure the AFC North. Although Troy Polomalu retired, with their young and deep linebacking core of Bud Dupree, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison and Jarvis Jones, they’ll neutralize the opposition to some degree and make it out alive.

Indianapolis Colts: 12-4

If they don’t win this division, it’ll be a shocker. They have signed RB Frank Gore and WR Andre Johnson. While they’re both up there in age they will be able to bring experience and talent to this offense and propel the team past everyone in the AFC North. Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles are too inexperienced and Brian Hoyer is too average to get in the way of Andrew Luck.

Denver Broncos: 10-6

With the loss of Julius Thomas, Peyton Manning will have a bit of a tougher time finding an easy target. However, Demaryus Thomas and Emanuel Sanders are very capable, and the improvement of C.J. Anderson is enough for the Broncos to put the pieces together offensively. Defensively, it may be a bit of a struggle, although they still have elite athletes such as Von Miller, Aquib Talib, T.J. Ward, Demarcus Ware and Chris Harris Jr.

Wild Card

Baltimore Ravens: 10-6

This team is elite on the defensive end and very good on the offensive end. Justin Forsett has much improved from last season and Joe Flacco will try to cement himself as “elite” and will take the Ravens to the postseason once again. I am picking them over the Bengals, because Andy Dalton is a broken record and has really gone down the drain. The Bengals’ defense is still elite, but you need a quarterback that can win in order to make the postseason- something Andy Dalton does not know how to do.

Buffalo Bills: 9-7

Yes, I picked the Bills. Yes, I picked them over the Dolphins. Here is why. The Bills have one of if not the best defensive line in the NFL featuring Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams and Marcel Darius. With the additions of Charles Clay and Lesean “Shady” McCoy, this offense will take a giant leap forward from last season. Although Tyrod Taylor is the starting QB, it’s better than E.J. Manuel- an inconsistent disaster. Taylor will be a game manager and with the elite young receiving core with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Percy Harvin, the Bills will muscle their way into the postseason.

Missing the cut:

Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Benagls, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets

NFC

Division Winners

Seattle Seahawks: 12-4

With a couple yards away from winning the Super Bowl, this team is full of anger and redemption. Still having one of the best defenses in the NFL, the acquisition of Jimmy Graham and a top two running back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch aka ‘Beast Mode’, the Seahawks will do everything in their power to crush this division.

New Orleans Saints: 9-7

The NFC South is extremely weak this season. Drew Brees is still an elite QB and although the Saints lost Jimmy Graham, they have improved defensively and will be able to scratch and claw past Cam Newton and the Panthers. The Saints have not been too great lately, and it’s time for Brees to step up and take his team to the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers: 11-5

With the best QB in football, Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will do just fine without Jordy Nelson. The Lions will put up a fight, however Stafford is no match for Rodgers.

Dallas Cowboys: 11-5

This is a coin flip between the Eagles and the Cowboys, because they’re equally good. The reason I am going with the Cowboys is because while I trust Sam Bradford’s arm, I do not trust his health. Tony Romo usually stays healthy and while the they lost Murray, they still have that impenetrable offensive line. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are elite and will do the same amount if not more damage than last season. As for the defense, they added Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory, if they stay out of trouble they too can cause serious damage.

If Bradford does stay healthy, it will go down to the wire. 

Wildcard

Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6

Although Chip Kelly is a nut job, sometimes that is a good thing. He traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, lost Lesean McCoy but signed Demarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, lost Trent Cole and Cary Williams and acquired Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. Will these moves work out? I think so, but a lot of it depends on Sam Bradford’s health.

Detroit Lions: 9-7

As they lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, they quickly acquired Haloti Ngata to patchwork the interior back together. With Matt Stafford, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, and Golden Tate, they’ll make enough noise to bounce into the playoffs this season.

Missing the cut

Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams

Super Bowl Matchup

Seattle Seahawks vs. Indianapolis Colts

You might say this matchup is the consensus. These teams are the best in their respective conferences. Andrew Luck is ready for the big stage and the Seahawks have already been there. This game will be brutal, and I am picking the Seattle Seahawks to come out on top and cement themselves as one of the best defenses of all time

Score: 31-21

image via zimbio.com 

About me:

I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, an 11th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NBA Finals Recap

 

What a series we just witnessed! The series we saw was quite entertaining, however the offensive talent level was much lower than in years past. Nonetheless, the Golden State Warriors are the new NBA Champions!

Although LeBron James was phenomenal in this series, averaging an historic 36 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists (approximately), he did not have the appropriate pieces around him to get the job done. Kevin Love going down in round one, and Kyrie Irving going down in game one hurt the Cavs much on the offensive, however not so much on the defensive. This was a different LeBron than we have seen before. His usage rate went through the roof as he was carrying this minimally talented team consisting of Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova. The fact that Lebron was able to win two games was a miracle in and of itself considering the players who surrounded him. Not to throw shade at Mozgov or Thompson because they are legitimate NBA starters, but J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova are reserves- and they certainly played like it. As we saw in game six, Lebron ran out of gas and gave up because he knew he couldn’t carry these bums past the sharpshooting Warriors.

It certainly didn’t help the injury-ridden Cavaliers that the MVP Steph Curry was on the other side of the ball. The play of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Harrison Barnes was inconsistent. However, Andre Iguodala was the unsung hero of this series, at least until he was awarded finals MVP. Iggy is clearly the third best player on the Warriors besides the splash bros. He won the MVP not just because of what he did offensively, but because of his immaculate performance on the best player in the world. Lebron’s production dramatically changed when Iggy was covering him. He shot 38% while the Cavs were a -55 when he was on the court. When Iggy was off the court, the Cavs were a +30 while Lebron shot 44%. When Steve Kerr made the adjustment to put Iggy into the starting lineup, David Blatt left big man Mozgov in the game, daring Iggy to shoot from the perimeter- and he did so. He averaged a pedestrian 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists a game, but his impact was far more than pedestrian, and his consistency and indirect and direct impact allowed the Warriors to capture the title. Steph Curry was very good, but choked in game two and did not play well in game three until the 4th quarter, so this vote was based on consistent dominance, something only Iggy showed.

What does this mean for Lebron’s legacy? Well, if you scratch the surface, it looks like another finals loss for the King. But if you actually take the time to look at his stats, you’ll realize he had no help and willed his team to two games versus the best team in basketball- pretty unheard of. This series does not really propel him upward on the “top 10 players of all time” list, however it certainly does not drop him down. He played a great series and ran out of mental and physical gas against this deep, cohesive Warriors attack. Lebron will be back to the finals, maybe even against Golden State again next year- who knows?

Image via theguardian.com 

About Me:  I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

The Knicks Luck (or lack thereof)

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After a gruelingly painful time watching the lottery on Tuesday night as the Knicks received the fourth overall pick, many Knicks fans (including me) got angry and emotional. However, if we step back, we can see what the fourth pick really means for the Knicks.

In Chad Ford’s projected mock draft, he has the Knicks selecting guard Emmanuel Mudiay—not my first choice. Although Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor won’t be available, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise—or just another Knicks failure. Assuming Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell is taken, we will be left with Emmanuel Mudiay.

Mudiay is a 6’5” point guard originally from Africa. He moved to Texas to play basketball and was eventually recruited by Larry Brown at SMU. Brown is one of the best basketball coaches in the world, and he had very high praise for Mudiay. But Mudiay decided to forgo his season at SMU and play in China. He seems to have NBA potential, and although I would prefer D’Angelo over him, he may just work out.

Every franchise needs a point guard at the helm, because it is a point guard’s league. Assuming the Knicks select Mudiay or Russell, they do not need to feel as much pressure to sign a guard this summer as opposed to if they got Okafor or Towns. However, it has been rumored that the Knicks will be open to trading the pick. In order to satisfy their fan base, the Knicks will need to trade their pick for a proven star—not some inconsistent head case.

The Knicks have about $30 million in cap space, and if they trade Calderon they could have a bit more. There are a lot of good unrestricted free agents this summer that the Knicks have a chance to get at the guard position—and that I would be interested in—such as Goran Dragic, Louis Williams, and Wes Mathews. DeMarre Carroll and Mike Dunleavy could be signed to veterans’ minimum deals and could serve as good role players. Other free agents such as Greg Monroe (unrestricted) and Tobias Harris (player option) have expressed interest in signing with New York. However, Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge have ruled out coming to the Big Apple.

Non-unrestricted free agents that would interest me are Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan, Corey Brewer, and Tristan Thompson. With all the money flowing in the Knicks pockets for the offseason, they should be able to grab at least two or three marquee free agents, if not four rising stars/proven players. If the Knicks fail to sign three marquee free agents, then Phil Jackson is officially inept and clearly does not know what he is doing. Assuming they draft Russell or Mudiay and don’t trade the pick, they should first look to sign a big man such as Greg Monroe who has expressed interest, following with the signing of a guy like Draymond Green or Tobias Harris—and if they have enough money, maybe Louis Williams or Wes Mathews. Of course these pieces are interchangeable, like if they don’t sign Green to get Dragic instead and if they don’t sign Mathews to get Harris instead, that type of thing. Assuming they then get three marquee free agents, and have one of the top players in the draft (along with Carmelo Anthony), we should begin to sign role players such as DeMare Carroll and Mike Dunleavy. If Phil Jackson is such a mastermind, this should be doable.

The biggest mistake the Knicks could make is to throw max dollars at a guy like Kevin Love, an unproven winner (even though it appears the Knicks don’t care about winning) and to just sit on their hands after his potential signing. The Knicks must be aggressive this offseason, hopefully getting rid of Tim Hardaway Jr. Assuming all works out (50/50 chance), the Knicks should have two very good guards, Carmelo Anthony playing alongside another proven forward, and a proven big and a very good bench. If this fails, the Knicks will have Carmelo Anthony, a top-four pick and Kevin Love having signed a max contact along with DeMare Carroll starting on a $10 million/year salary.

The fourth overall picks over the last five years have been Tyreke Evans, Wes Johnson, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Cody Zeller- not such a great list. Although Johnson is the only real bust, Evans and Waiters haven’t been horrible, but certainly haven’t lived up to their expectations thus far. Thompson has become a dominant rebounder and physical presence, as Zeller has fallen through the cracks but still has time to grow.

Let’s see what happens moving forward. But Knicks fans should brace themselves because the team still has the worst owner in sports and a coach who does not really seem to know what to do.

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NBA Playoff Predictions

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In a recent blog post, I made predictions about who I thought would win each series in the NBA. I was correct when it came to the Warriors, the Hawks, the Cavaliers, the Bulls, and the Grizzlies. But I was wrong to pick against the Clippers, the Rockets, and the Wizards.

After a great first round, the action will ramp up even more. So will the pressure. With only one game seven this time instead of many game sevens last year, there were three sweeps, one of which was between a 4 seed and a 5 seed. Much has happened, and now I’m going to tell you who I think will take it all.

Semi-Finals

Warriors vs. Grizzles

This series will be a good one. Memphis likes to slow things down, while Golden State likes a fast pace. However, Mike Conley’s injury hurts the Grizzles, and will hurt them moving forward. The Warriors have too much depth for the Grizzles, and while this series will be entertaining, it will be lopsided.

Warriors in 6

Cavaliers vs. Bulls

Kevin Love is out for the remainder of the playoffs. While it will hurt the Cavaliers’ title chances, it should not dramatically affect this series. While Chicago is versatile at the power forward position, Tristan Thompson will hold his own in this series. Although everyone will likely pick Chicago because Derrick Rose is healthy, the Cavs do still have Lebron and Kyrie, and until one of them goes down, nobody in the East will beat them.

Cavaliers in 6

Rockets vs. Clippers

Although the Rockets finished the injury-ridden Mavericks quickly, and the Spurs and Clippers went to seven games, the Clippers will defeat the Rockets. They are a better all around team. And while no individual can stop MVP candidate James Harden, the Clips have the pieces in order to take down the Rockets. DeAndre Jordan will help neutralize Dwight Howard. This series will go the distance, but Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be too much for the young Rockets.

Clippers in 7

Hawks vs. Wizards

John Wall and the Wizards resurrected themselves in a sweep vs. the favorite Raptors. The Wizards will continue to ride the wave and will be too much for the Hawks to handle.

Wizards in 5

Conference Finals

Cavaliers vs. Wizards

The Cavaliers will not lose the East, Lebron and co. will take John Wall and the speedy Wizards down.

Cavaliers in 6

Warriors vs. Clippers

The MVP candidate Steph Curry will show the Clippers all he’s got, and will propel his team to victory. He has had his way with CP3 this year, having big nights against one of the league’s toughest defenders. Klay Thompson and the sharp shooting Warriors will be too much for the hot Clippers and will shoot their way into the NBA Finals. It will be a fantastic series, and it will go down to the wire.

Warriors in 7

NBA Finals

Cavaliers vs. Warriors

While Lebron James and Kyrie Irving are great, they will truly miss Kevin Love’s absence, and it will lead to their demise. It will be a great series, but MVP candidate Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, along with the Warriors 10-man rotation will be too much for the Love-less Cavs. Lebron will do all he can, but in the end it will not be enough. However, if Lebron does prevail, it will not surprise me at all.

Warriors in 7: Stephen Curry NBA Finals MVP

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

2015 NFL Mock Draft

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After a great college football season, there has been much talk about the upcoming draft. Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? Kevin White or Amari Cooper? How far will Shane Ray and Randy Gregory drop? Where will Todd Gurley fall? Will Phillip Rivers be traded? Is Chip Kelley going after Mariota? What’s RG3’s situation looking like? All these questions will be answered on Thursday. However in the mean time, I’ll tell you how I think it’ll play out.

Mock Draft: Top 10

This is assuming nobody trades their pick, and everyone addresses their needs as a team.

1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB

Very accurate, however mixed reviews on the QB out of FSU. Many scouts see Big Ben in him, some see Jamarcus Russell. Nobody truly knows how he will pan out, but his ceiling is the highest in this class. However, his floor is the lowest. He reminds me of E.J. Manuel. Because the Bucs need a QB, they won’t pass Winston up.

2) Tennessee Titans (traded to Cleveland Browns): Marcus Mariota, QB

Was a Heisman trophy winner who led that fast break Oregon offense. Shouldn’t be too rough of a transition for him into the NFL, however, the team needs to commit to him. With his low ego, he won’t potentially hurt himself like RG3 or Johnny Football.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler, DE/LB

The Jaguars drafted their “franchise QB” last year. I say they go ahead and take one of the most explosive athletes in this class. They can’t go wrong with Fowler who has a ton of NFL potential.

4) Oakland Raiders: Kevin White, WR

This dude is a freak of nature. Although he and Amari Cooper are neck and neck, I feel the Raiders will go ahead with White, standing at 6’3,” catching anything within sight. He will pair up well with the young gun Carr.

5) Washington Redskins: Leonard Williams, DE

From USC, this big guy can play. At 6’5”, nearly 300 pounds, he is simply a force to be reckoned with and could be a high profile name in the NFL in a few years time. He’s a safe pick for Washington. Also, he is one of the best, if not the best in the class. Taking him at 5 is a big time steal!

6) New York Jets: Vic Beasley, LB

The Jets have gotten their act together this offseason, making their defense one of the most lethal. The more the merrier, so they’ll take the Clemson star and add him to their strong defense.

7) Chicago Bears: Amari Cooper, WR

This is the only thing they can do to replace Brandon Marshall. Although Jay Cutler is inept, with the help of the Alabama wide out, maybe things will change in Chi-town. The Bears need this pick, and cannot pass on Cooper.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Danny Shelton, DT

The Falcons need much help on the defensive end of the field. Shelton is a safe pick, and they can’t turn him down. Going with Shane Ray however could hurt them down the road due to his toe injury. They’ll go with their gut.

9) New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OL

The Giants badly need a stronger line, defensively and offensively. Assuming the great D-linemen are gone, they’ll grab Scherff, a pick that should benefit them down the road as they try to rebuild a young offensive line. This is the safest and best pick. If they choose Todd Gurley as “experts” predict, that will be a colossal mistake.

10) St. Louis Rams: Bud Dupree, LB

The Rams could keep Dupree in the region, adding strength to their already strong defense. However, if they pass, it wouldn’t be a shock.

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

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