“Passing the bonds shows that the project is moving forward,” Deutschman said. “That would help in attracting private partners.” After years of lobbying, Antelope Valley officials were successful in getting the Rail Authority to plan the route between Bakersfield and Los Angeles through the high desert rather than along Interstate 5. The proposed Antelope Valley alignment would follow Highway 58 from Bakersfield to Mojave, then run south along the Union Pacific railroad tracks through Lancaster, Palmdale and Soledad Canyon and San Fernando Valley. Palmdale has spent nearly $600,000 studying and promoting the Antelope Valley route, which officials say would add just a few minutes to travel time but would serve 750,000 more residents than along Interstate 5. The officials also argued that the route would not require tunneling or raise as many environmental concerns as a rail line over the Grapevine. Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week A $9.95 billion state bond measure for the project is scheduled to be put before California voters in November 2006. However, there is a bill pending in the state Legislature to push that vote back to 2008. Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, said given the state’s bond indebtedness, the train system must be deferred in favor of other priorities. “We have some big issues with transportation and infrastructure,” Runner said. “We need to have safe highways to drive on.” Although the Rail Authority has not taken a formal position on such a delay, individual board members, including Donna Andrews and Joseph Petrillo, have spoken out against pushing back the vote, arguing that it would increase the project’s cost. Rail Authority spokeswoman Kris Deutschman said if the bond vote were to pass, there would still be several months before the bonds would be used. PALMDALE – A proposed high-speed rail system that would run through the Antelope and San Fernando valleys reached a milestone Wednesday with the approval of the project’s environmental study. Meeting in Sacramento, the California High-Speed Rail Authority board voted 6-0 to approve the environmental impact report for the 700-mile system running from San Diego to Sacramento. The next step will be a separate environmental study for the controversial corridor linking the San Francisco Bay to the Central Valley. Also to be done are more-detailed environmental studies for each segment of the system, looking at where stations would be built and where rail lines would actually be placed. At an estimated $37 billion, the system would be one of the most expensive public works projects in U.S. history.
Letterkenny University Hospital has opened 10 beds in the Short Stay Ward today, but the campaign for full capacity continues, according to Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.The Donegal Senator has given a cautious welcome to confirmation that half of the beds in Letterkenny’s 20 bed Short Stay Ward are reopening this Thursday.However, Mac Lochlainn has criticised the government for not fully delivering on their assurances last year. The Senator today challenged the Government to explain why they announced the reopening of all 20 Short Stay beds last October, only for the HSE to allocate funding for five beds and support staff.Senator Mac Lochlainn said: “Last year, Sinn Fein members across Donegal organised a petition that was signed by thousands of local people, calling for the reopening of Letterkenny Hospital’s 20-bed Short Stay Ward. Throughout 2017 and last year, there was an average of around 20 people every day on trolleys at the hospital and it was obvious to see, the huge difference the reopening of these beds and this ward would have on the trolley crisis.“The trolley crisis also pushed nurses, doctors and support staff at the hospital into relentlessly impossible working conditions.“Last October, local Government Minister, Joe McHugh announced the reopening of these beds and Fianna Fáil claimed that they had secured this under “confidence and supply”. While this was welcomed by the people of Donegal as overdue good news, it quickly became clear that these promises and political claims were not backed up with the money.” Senator Mac Lochlainn said he was shocked by party announcement on the reopening yesterday, adding:“After much further investigation, we learned earlier this year that the Government and the HSE had only released enough money to reopen 5 beds, much to the frustration of the Saolta Hospital Group and the management of Letterkenny Hospital. So the Saolta Hospital Group allocated enough extra resources to reopen 10 beds and they are to be commended for this.“But for the Government or Fianna Fáil to now welcome this is astounding. Their political claims last year after the budget have not materialised and for Sinn Féin and the people of Donegal, the campaign to reopen all of these beds continues.”Short Stay Ward campaign isn’t over at Letterkenny Hospital was last modified: June 6th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
In the era of digital transformation, IoT is fostering the forthcoming revolution in mobile apps. It is changing the way companies used to provide mobile app development services. Similar to mobile apps, applications of IoT are also emerging in almost every verticles. IoT has helped thousands of corporates to deliver extraordinary customer experiences by providing technological enhancements to existing mobile apps.Experts predict that IoT is going to become a more significant player in the mobile app development business than it is right now. Bain predicts that the market share of IoT is going to increase more than double in 2021 with a staggering $520 billion compared to 4 years back in 2017 with $235 billion. Shortly, IoT is going to drive the trends of mobile app development services providers used to follow. Below are the new trends we can expect in IoT enabled mobile apps.Enhancement in the Number of Connected DevicesThe number of connected devices in increasing day after day. According to Statista, the growth in the number of connected devices is growing exponentially. It predicts that there are going to be 75.44 billion connected devices in 2025 which is almost three times of the number of connected devices in 2019: 26.66 billion. Mobile apps are going to play a significant role in connected devices as a majority of the connected devices will be mobile phones itself. As the sales of smartphones are increasing the number of connected devices are also growing. Increase in InteroperabilityBack in the early ’90s, there was a lack of clarity about which protocols and standards should be used to create IoT systems as there were too many of them. Although, the number of communication protocols and standards have increased the standardization has also been done by several institutions.Standardization of protocols has helped mobile app development services providers to build IoT enabled mobile apps faster. Now, since the standardization has been done right, experts are trying to figure out how to create an IoT system which is compatible with both current and future standards. Once this is figured out, mobile app development services providers will be able to implement interoperability to its full capacity by merely integrating an API with their old IoT mobile app.App Security will IncreaseIoT has always been prone to hackers because of the confusion in standards and protocols. Now, as the standardization is done, companies are shifting their attention to enhance the security of IoT mobile apps. Endpoints in any IoT network are the most vulnerable points to get hacked. With the increase in data security breaches and cybercrime, the opportunities for IoT mobile app development services providers are also increasing. Some of the custom app development companies have already changed their business model from developing apps to securing IoT mobile apps made by themselves as well as other development firms.Data-driven Mobile App DevelopmentData is at the core of IoT. Connected devices produce a lot of data. We can also make them handle data coming from other sources. For example, ERP and CRM integrated enterprise apps generate a lot of data which is very important to organize. Connected devices will perform various actions that will organize data in such a way that it’ll start making sense and help enterprises to make better organizational decisions.As the enterprise mobile apps will get better the necessity of creating an enterprise app will also increase. And hence, the concept of data-driven mobile app development will predominate. Artificial Intelligence and IoTArtificial intelligence has become a thriving technology. A technology that has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Same is the case with IoT. Both IoT and AI are data-driven technologies. They both deal with a lot of data. Both technologies are used to store and analyze data. Integrating IoT and AI will help us gain better and accurate insights into various services. Bringing AI and IoT together will make the process of automation more efficient. Machine Learning is Going to RuleSimilar to AI, Machine Learning, is yet another facilitator of automation. Machine Learning is widely used in Chatbots and Voice Bots. It has helped a lot of enterprises and startups to connect with their customers 24/7 without any human intervention. Using Apple’s Core ML and Google’s ML Kit we can create apps that’ll make connected devices smarter and more efficient in finishing various tasks.The reason why AI and ML are going to rule the world is that they help us not only to remain in touch with the world all the time but also, improves productivity in to do our routine tasks. They have helped to automate a majority of the human tasks in various industries. Consumer-centric Industrial IoT will prevailIoT mobile app development services providers are evolving to deliver customer-centric IoT mobile applications. These apps will place a consumer in the center of everything. Entrepreneurs are implementing consumer IoT in the workplace to increase the productivity of the employees. The concept of consumer IoT is also aiding the smart city program running in various countries. This program aims to make the lives of people simpler and make our cities more energy efficient.Integration of IoT in Crypto-currencyIt is evident that IoT is pretty good at handling data. So, it’s high time now that we merge two of the most popular emerging technologies: IoT and Blockchain. The reason why we need to integrate IoT and Blockchain is that it will solve the longest running problem of security in connected devices. The high-security protocols of Blockchain will help govern the communication of data in various connected devices. AR, VR and Connected DevicesAR and VR have become two of the most popular technologies in the corporate world right now. The applications of AR and VR are widespread. We combined both the technologies and created Mixed Reality. How about connecting both of them with IoT? Doing so will help us achieve a new feat in automation. Smart connected devices will be able to deliver immersive experiences to the users. IoT and AR/VR will open new possibilities for enterprises to attract customers by arranging various marketing events and consumer-facing sessions. The Rise of Industry Independent IoT Mobile App DevelopmentEarlier when IoT wasn’t a buzzword, its applications were limited to specific industries. Since its inception, IoT was limited to a few sectors such as consumer retail and aerospace and armed forces. The first consumer-facing application of IoT was designed by John Romkey who turned a toaster on and off using the Internet with TCP/IP networking. Today, if we look at the applications of IoT, we can see that they are not only spread across various verticals but also connected across industries. Enterprises are leveraging this inter-industrial IoT to deliver excellent consumer experiences, streamline supply-chain management and simplify tasks for employees. The applications of IoT in businesses is going to increase with time.Efficient Mobile App DevelopmentAs we all know that “Automation” is the pseudonym for IoT. It has helped a plethora of companies and individuals to simplify various tasks. The lesser known fact is that it also helps mobile app developers to reduce development time. It means that the enterprises looking to develop apps from IoT mobile app development services providers will be able to spend less than their estimated amount. IoT helps developers to reduce development time by reducing their effort to test the app created by them. Developers can utilize the extra time to build more apps or enhance features in the existing apps.Deliver Personalized User ExperienceThe data collected using IoT networks can be used to deliver personalized experiences to users of a particular mobile app. As seen earlier, machine learning and IoT helps us to create smart apps. These apps can learn by themselves. So, as a user will use the app, it’ll get more intelligent and will be able to deliver personalized user experiences. The more an app will be used more personalized it will get over time. Efficacy of Apps will IncreaseIn today’s world, mobile app development services providers are in a constant worry about the robustness of the app they had developed. Mobile apps need upgrade and support for application even after the deployment. If apps do not get required support post-launch, then the apps might become device dependent. It means that it’ll run only on old devices and operating systems.IoT helps mobile app development services providers to connect their app with other devices that’ll provide support to their app. This way IoT will help existing mobile apps to increase their adaptability and efficacy. The Rise of Developers with Enhanced SkillsIoT is a booming concept in today’s world. The requirement of IoT mobile app development services providers and developers will increase in the upcoming years. But, as the technology is spreading not only horizontally but also vertically, we’ll need specialized developers who will have in-depth knowledge of a specific domain in IoT mobile app development. This will require the existing IoT mobile app developers to learn new skills and possibly new languages as well.ConclusionIoT has great potential to bring revolutionary changes in current mobile app development trends. It is going to open up immense possibilities for everyone related to this field. Whether it is a mobile app development services provider or it is a product based firm or an enterprise. Directly or Indirectly, IoT is going to drive the future of all industries, businesses, and individuals. Follow the Puck Tags:#IoT#mobile app development Sagar holds the position of Chief Technology Officer at Credencys Solutions Inc., a Mobile App Development Company. He is responsible for all the technical operations, as well as leading the company’s revolutionary offerings. He is helping companies navigate the Digital journey in an Agile environment. Share your app idea at email@example.com.Sagar has two main areas of focus – Technology and Processes. He has worked in leadership positions in various Fortune 500 companies and has been instrumental in driving success through digital transformation. He is also an enthusiastic Agile Coach. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Sagar SharmaCTO @Credencys Solutions Inc. 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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday ordered that adverse remarks made by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in the 2016-17 annual performance appraisal report of senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka be expunged.Mr. Khemka, who is presently Principal Secretary of the Haryana Science and Technology Department, had approached the court for removal of the adverse remarks in January this year.The two-judge Bench of Justices Rajeev Sharma and Kuldip Singh, while allowing the petition, said, “The remarks of the accepting officer (Chief Minister) and the grading of 9 given by the accepting authority are hereby set aside and the opinion given by the reviewing authority (Minister) is restored. The grading of 9.92 given by the reviewing authority is also restored and will prevail upon the grading given by the reporting authority (Chief Secretary).”
Chelsea midfielder Cesc on emotional farewell: This career goes so fastby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has spoken of his final game before joining AS Monaco.The midfielder was handed a rare start and given the captain’s armband for his final appearance in a blue shirt for the FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest.Fabregas missed a first-half penalty but Maurizio Sarri’s side ran out 2-0 winners thanks to Alvaro Morata’s double.The Blues boss withdrew Fabregas in the closing minutes so supporters could give the Spaniard a deserved send off after 198 games for the club.”Time flies,” said Fabregas. “It feels like last week that I started playing professionally and now it’s more than 15 years.”It goes so fast and you have to be ready every three days, for the criticism with everyone saying how good you are and the ups and downs.”It feels like growing older it never goes away it is technique. Physicality goes away. Technicality stays with you.”Nottingham Forest keeper Luke Steele denied Fabregas the perfect send off when he kept out the former Arsenal man’s spot-kick.Fabregas added: “I saw the keeper going down in the middle of the run and I thought I had it. It was unfortunate.”The day I got 100 caps for Spain I also missed a penalty, so it was destiny.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Benfica president Vieira: Mourinho? Money is no problemby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBenfica president Luis Filipe Vieira has the financial backing to hire Jose Mourinho.The sacked Manchester United manager has been raised by Vieira as a replacement for the sacked Rui Vitoria.There’s been claims Mourinho’s personal demands would be too much, but Sport says the president has said “the money is no problem”, opening the debate again.Vieira insists he had not spoken to Mourinho though. Bruno Laje is working as interim coach for now and the president said that he will stay in charge until the end of next week. Mourinho is a free man after being sacked by Manchester United.
Melbourne: Former captain Ricky Ponting feels constant scrutiny on Steve Smith and David Warner following their comeback could be “unsettling” for the Australian team during the World Cup in the United Kingdom. Ponting, who will be part of Australia’s support staff during the mega event, said Smith and Warner will have to be prepared for constant criticism from the UK crowd. Their two-year ban for ball-tampering ends later this month and they will feature in the IPL beginning March 23. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together”I don’t think it is much of a challenge internally around the players. You’d like to think that those guys are having conversations now, so they’re not leaving it to the last minute and just be exposed to this thing that could be derailing to a team,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “I’m sure this would have been talked about at a higher level for a long time – how do we integrate them back in? How do they fit in? How is it all going to be seamless? But the hardest part for those guys is going to be the public perception of us, especially in England,” said the two-time World Cup winning captain. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian OpenConstant attention on Smith and Warner could affect the team during the World Cup, said Ponting. They’re coming back into a World Cup in the UK – they shouldn’t be expecting too many pats on the back over there. They’re going to cop it everywhere they go. They’ve got to know that, they’ve got to accept that and understand that. “The team needs to as well, because that could also be something that could be unsettling for a team.” Australia go into the World Cup as defending champions but this time, they don’t go enter the tournament as outright favourites. Ponting feels things could get a lot easier for Warner and Smith if they are amongst the runs. “I think they are well equipped (to handle the scrutiny), but I think it could be a shock for them by the same token when they come back. They have to expect the absolute worst and then anything better than that is going to be a bonus for them. That would be the way I would approach it if I was them.
Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the recent arrest of a woman who allegedly breached security at President Donald Trump’s private Florida club while carrying Chinese passports and a flash drive containing malware, is an example of the threat Beijing poses to Washington. In a TV interview on Friday, Pompeo declined to provide additional details related to his claim but said: “I think this tells the American people the threat that China poses, the efforts they’re making inside the US, not only against government officials but more broadly.” CNN reported on Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had begun investigating the possibility that the incident at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property was an espionage effort. The US official who confirmed the espionage probe said the FBI is doing what it has to do in these circumstances, when there is a foreign national involved and a possibility of counterintelligence or cyber-security issues. Earlier this week, Trump dismissed concerns about the incident when asked about potential Chinese espionage. Hedescribed it a “fluke situation,” praising both the Secret Service and the receptionist who stopped the accused, Yujing Zhang. Zhang was charged with making false statements to a federal officer and entering a restricted area on Monday. A detention hearing is scheduled for April 8 and arraignment for April 15. While investigators have not yet revealed conclusive evidence suggesting a link to Chinese espionage, the breach has highlighted long-brewing concerns about security at Mar-a-Lago. The club allows members, their guests and people attending events to enter and move around, even as Trump makes frequent visits to the property.
1Mike Trout28.61Mike Trout37.9 PLAYERWAR 5Alex Rodriguez22.95Ken Griffey Jr.30.1 5Al Kaline8.95Al Kaline15.4 3Ty Cobb9.53Ty Cobb15.7 2Ty Cobb46.7 As a result — and in concert with MLB labor mechanisms that force young stars to either play for peanuts through their arbitration years or lock themselves into long, below-market extensions (as Trout did in 2014, re-signing with the Angels through 2020) — Trout has produced a ton of surplus value for the Angels, relative to what he’s been paid. According to FanGraphs.com, Trout’s production would have been worth about $357 million on the open market since his MLB debut, a span over which he was paid only about $24 million.That’s why speculation that the Yankees are loading up for a Trout trade breaks down upon examination. At a glance, why not ship Trout away from a rebuilding team where his WAR is being wasted (aside, of course, from Angels fans who like to watch him play) to a huge market that has the prospects for a blockbuster deal? The answer: It would take a monster package of young talent to justify trading away a player who so outperforms his contract and probably will continue to do so for the next several years.If we apply Tom Tango’s simple WAR projection system with an average future value of $8.6 million per win,3Starting with a rough cost-estimate of $8 million per WAR next season, with 5 percent annual growth until 2020. the final four seasons of Trout’s contract figure to see him generate 32.5 WAR, for a market value of $282 million,4Including the yearly minimum salary of about $500,000. and be paid $122 million. So it probably won’t be until Trout’s next contract that the cost-benefit tradeoff of having him around begins to make a trade realistic for either the Angels or the team they’re negotiating with.At that point, the math gets a little silly. Even in the first year of his next deal, Trout’s WAR projects to be worth so much on the open market (roughly $75 million) that he’d need a truly paradigm-shifting contract — one that would basically double the highest annual salary of anybody in the game right now — to not be underpaid. With superstar free-agent deals, the question often isn’t whether they’ll be paid more than they’re worth, but by how much. Trout, however, is so good that it might be hard for him to earn fair market value even in his big post-prime payday.For now, that means Trout is probably stuck carrying the Angels. In the past, that would have also meant his chances of contending for the MVP were slim, despite his incredible individual numbers. But perhaps Trout’s win Thursday also signals a change in the way voting will be conducted going forward. The MVP electorate has been skewing more progressive for a while, in terms of its willingness to use sabermetric tools, and there’s nothing more open-minded than giving the MVP to the leader of a 74-88 team.But maybe it was also about Trout’s own particular greatness. No player has ever been so good at such a young age; it was likely that future generations would have looked at his repeated MVP snubs and wondered what the hell the voters were thinking to deny him the AL’s top individual award, over and over. WAR Through Age 22WAR Through Age 23 4Bryce Harper8.94Ken Griffey Jr.15.5 1Mike Trout48.5 3Ted Williams23.63Ted Williams34.2 a 3Mickey Mantle40.9 4Alex Rodriguez38.0 4Mel Ott23.54Mel Ott31.4 WAR Through Age 24 2Ty Cobb25.52Ty Cobb36.0 a PLAYERWAR 5Ken Griffey Jr.37.0 WAR Through Age 20WAR Through Age 21 2Mel Ott11.42Mel Ott17.9 Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is widely acknowledged to be the best player in baseball and has been for quite some time. But for all his gifts, awards recognition has been hard for Trout to come by. Although Trout has led the American League in wins above replacement (WAR) for each of the past five seasons,1Ever since he first became a full-time player in 2012. he had only won MVP honors once going into Thursday night’s award announcement — and victory there was far from assured.Unlike in the past, though, when Trout’s horrid teammates were held against him in favor of some lesser player on a winning team, the voters broke with tradition and went for the player with stellar individual numbers. In winning the MVP, Trout became just the sixth player from a losing team to take home the hardware. It was a victory for the new ways of player evaluation and a more modern take on what the “valuable” part of MVP really means.But even if Trout hadn’t won the award, he could have taken the same solace he could last year: MVP or not, but he’s still tracking to be the G.O.A.T.Through every single age in which he played a full season,2Not including his age-19 season in 2011, when he logged only 40 games after a July call-up. Trout has been the all-time career leader in Baseball-Reference.com’s WAR for position players. It was true through age 20, age 21, age 22, age 23 and — after posting 10.6 WAR in 2016, a performance that basically matched his previous single-season peak — age 24. No player has ever started his career on this kind of tear — not Ruth, not Cobb, not Mantle, nobody. Mike Trout is (still!) the G.O.A.T. at any age Most career WAR through each age since 1901, among position players.Source: Baseball-Reference.com 1Mike Trout11.41Mike Trout20.7
WESTERN CONFERENCE1. Los Angeles LakersThe defending world champions added Ron Artest into the starting lineup, and center Andrew Bynum will return soon from an Achilles injury. But the Lakers have been sluggish closing out the season, and Kobe Bryant has been banged up for most of the season. With many potentially dangerous roadblocks, it will be tough for Los Angeles to reach the NBA Finals for the third straight year. They still have the best chance to do so.2. Dallas MavericksDallas was one of the best teams in the NBA after acquiring guard Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood from Washington. Even though the Mavs have Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki as the cornerstones of their team, they ended up with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, a team nobody wants to play in the playoffs. If they get out of the first round, Dallas has a shot at the NBA Finals.3. Phoenix SunsThis Phoenix team is very different from the one from five years ago, but it is still all about the high-tempo offense of Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, a superstar duo. But their flash has not yielded great playoff success, as the Suns have given up the most points of any playoff team. If Nash and Stoudemire stay hot, the Suns can make a lot of noise in the later rounds out West.4. Denver NuggetsCarmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups remain one of the best duos out West, and Denver’s forwards are excellent rebounders. But they have struggled as coach George Karl has undergone treatment for throat cancer, and the Nuggets’ road record is one of the worst among playoff teams. With Karl most likely out for the first round, Denver will need to dig deep against Utah. If they do, they can get a rematch with the Lakers.5. Utah JazzA team stacked with big men, the sky is the limit for the Jazz. With the leadership and playmaking abilities of point guard Deron Williams, the Jazz have big men and 3-point shooters. What they lack is a pure shooter who can hit the mid-range jump shot on a regular basis when Williams gets in trouble and cannot dish it off to one of his big men.6. Portland Trail BlazersA young team on the rise, the Blazers have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this experience. Unfortunately, they will be without All-star and leader Brandon Roy in the first series due to a torn meniscus in his right knee that needs surgery. An injury plagued season, first losing Greg Oden and now Roy, they hope to upset the Phoenix Suns in the first round.7. San Antonio SpursExperience, experience, experience. That’s what the Spurs have, but maybe too much experience. With the great Tim Duncan, age might hinder the Spurs’ run if he cannot carry the team on his back like he did in his wonder years. This is where they hope superstar sixth man Manu Ginobili can keep up his hot streak and lead the team to another title. With the off-season acquisition of Richard Jefferson and the solid point guard play of Tony Parker, the Spurs are still a team to reckon with in the playoffs.8. Oklahoma City ThunderThough it’s the Thunder’s first playoff appearance since moving to OKC, scoring champion Kevin Durant hopes to not make it a short tenure. Even though they are young and hungry, they lack size and 3-point shooters. To top it off, they are matched up with last year’s NBA Champion Lakers in the first round. But gaining experience and seeing how far they can make it will only better the young squad for future seasons to come.-Tim Bielik and Michael WillisEASTERN CONFERENCE1. Cleveland CavaliersLeBron James. Enough said. Aside from showcasing arguably the best player in the league, the Cavs are second in 3-point percentage and third in overall field goal percentage, making them one of the most potent offenses in all of basketball. While there don’t seem to be many soft spots in Cleveland’s game, center Shaquille O’Neal has not seen action since suffering a thumb injury in late February, which could cause a weakened post presence. Finishing four games better than the defending champion Lakers, it is hard to not have Cleveland as a favorite to win the east if not the whole thing.2. Orlando Magic The Magic have one of the best big men in the game in Dwight Howard, who proved to be too much for anyone else in the east to handle last postseason, including Cleveland, and could provide Orlando with a slight edge in the east once again. Orlando has been inconsistent at times this season. Both Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis have struggled at points, which could spell disaster in crunch time. If Carter and Lewis can find their shooter’s touch and Howard maintains his dominating presence in the post, the Magic could give the Cavs a run for their money come conference finals time.3. Atlanta HawksIn his first year in Atlanta, sharp shooter Jamal Crawford has been a huge boost off the bench for the Hawks, providing what could be just the spark they need to get over the hump in the east. Mustering just one playoff series victory in the last 10 years, the Hawks lack the postseason experience that the other top tier teams will benefit from. Atlanta has come a long way in the last 3 years, but they will have to come much further, much quicker if they want to get past Orlando and Cleveland.4. Boston CelticsThe nod for most experienced team in the east would have to go to the Celtics whose starting five that won the NBA title in ’08 remains intact. Boston struggled down the stretch, posting a 3-7 record over their last ten games, and age remains a factor with the ‘Big 3′ all approaching their mid 30’s. The Celtics shined in ’08 but, despite the starting line-up remaining the same, their lack of youth is a big challenge in challenging for the Eastern Conference title. 5. Miami HeatOn a hot streak, winning 12 of its last 13 games, and guard Dwayne Wade has the ability to take over a game. Not much talent behind Wade, especially in the front court. Miami was 0-3 against Boston in the regular season. Although the Heat has the best chance at an upset in the East going against the aging Celtics, Miami’s weak front court will not be able to handle Boston’s big men. 6. Milwaukee BucksMidseason acquisition John Salmons has averaged 19.9 points per game since joining the Bucks, and point guard Brandon Jennings is a contender for Rookie of the Year. Milwaukee lost its best player, forward Andrew Bogut, to injury near the end of the season. Can others step up?With Bogut, the Bucks could have made a deep run in the playoffs. Without him, they will be lucky to win two games against Atlanta. 7. Charlotte BobcatsBobcats are very good defensively, allowing the fewest points in the NBA at 93.8 per game. Guard Stephen Jackson can score from anywhere. Charlotte has also scored the fewest points of any team at 95.3 per game. The Bobcats have no answer for Orlando’s Dwight Howard in the post, especially if Tyson Chandler’s recent injuries linger. Charlotte’s defense will keep them in games, but the team lacks the inside presence to win more than a few games against the Magic. 8. Chicago BullsDerrick Rose is an explosive point guard and averaged 17 points and 9.3 assists against Cleveland this season. The Bulls allowed more points than they scored this season. They simply don’t have the talent to give the Cavs much of a problem. Although the Bulls split the season series against Cleveland, the most recent victory came with LeBron James on the sideline. James will not be resting during the playoffs. -Travis Kozek and Matt Skrajner