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The Summer Of Playoffs

We begin with the first round of the NBA playoffs, since they started this week, and which teams and players seem to be in good shape. While Neil is looking more prophetic, for the moment, for picking the Los Angeles team that he did, the Hot Takedown crew hasn’t lost faith in LeBron James quite yet. In a weird way, the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers might be a good match for the Lakers in the first round, because as incredible as Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkić have been, they haven’t shown any ability to defend against the likes of LeBron and Anthony Davis. We don’t expect any upsets quite yet — though we did record this podcast before the Bucks lost to the Magic on Tuesday — but if we were put to it, maybe the Mavericks could give the Clippers some trouble. Whether or not the Toronto Raptors adopt the Washington Nationals’ approach of losing their best player and then quietly winning a championship, we’re excited that the NBA bubble has allowed us to talk about playoff basketball … and nothing else.

Next, we head to the Great White North and the NHL’s two bubbles. There were a fair few upsets to make the Round of 16, but now that we’re actually into the playoffs proper, we don’t expect the results to get too crazy. Despite some armchair conspiracy theorists’ hopes, the results of the NHL draft lottery were also fairly tame: The New York Rangers will likely nab top prospect Alexis Lafrenieré with their No. 1 pick, and Geoff’s resentment of all tri-state teams that aren’t the New Jersey Devils will continue unabated. The storylines that are grabbing us in the NHL playoffs are how well the New York Islanders seem to be doing, the chance that the Tampa Bay Lightning might be able to overcome their absolute humiliation in the postseason last year, and the many, many overtimes that games are going to. Even with crowd sound being piped in by EA Sports, hockey’s playoff intensity remains reasonably high.

Finally, Neil introduces us to a very elite club: players who have played for every single team in a division. NFL wide receiver Chris Hogan has now conquered the AFC East after signing on Sunday with the New York Jets, completing a doable but pretty uncommon feat across sports. Although several players have gotten close, and several others seem like they’ve played for every single team in a league, there are surprisingly few who have made a clean sweep of a given division. We think more trades should keep these completionists in mind — not because there’s any inherent advantage, just because it’s fun.

What we’re looking at this week:

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.