The Spurs And Heats Road to the Conference Finals

On Wednesday night, both the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs closed out their series in five games. Through the end of these second-round series, the Spurs have been outscoring their opponents by an average of 9.9 points per 100 possessions, the Heat by nine points per 100 possessions. Both of those marks lap the rest of the field — the next closest team in the playoffs is the Oklahoma City Thunder at +4.5. The Heat and the Spurs have been the best in these playoffs by a wide margin.Those point-per-possession metrics are important; they account for pace and average margin of victory or defeat. That means they offer a more insightful understanding of a team’s strength than its record can. And once we understand a team’s strength, we can better guess its future success.By that metric, the Spurs and Heat are converging. After a seven-game slog against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, the Spurs had a per 100 possession point differential of +3.4. From there, they seem to have swelled, getting stronger and stronger as they dismantled the Portland Trail Blazers. The Heat’s dominance looks inverted. First, they swept the Charlotte Bobcats with a per 100 possession point differential of +10.1. But after trampling the Brooklyn Nets in the first two games of the second round, they’ve struggled to separate themselves and their point differential has been slowly creeping downward.The chart below shows the cumulative per 100 possession point differential of each team going into the second round and after each second-round game.Both teams swung upward in their two home games to start the round. But as the Spurs’ point differential has continued to climb, albeit at a slightly slower trajectory, the Heat have been trending downward from their playoff peak to meet them. Quality of competition is certainly a factor, and the Spurs’ first-round point differential is heavily influenced by having played the Mavericks, a much more successful team during the regular season than the Charlotte Bobcats. But the Spurs’ second-round opponent, the Trail Blazers, had a Simple Rating System mark of 4.44 during the regular season, sixth-best in the league. The Nets were -1.58, 20th in the league.Of course, both teams still have plenty of obstacles, but playing at such a high level bodes well for the next round (though which teams they face may matter even more). But the directions their performances have been trending implies that the Spurs might be moving on with slightly more momentum than the Heat. read more

Study suggests blue hue for tarantulas not about attracting a mate

first_img Explore further A greenbottle blue tarantula (C. cyaneopubescens) on a branch. Despite its name, saturated, bright green color rarely occurs in tarantulas. Credit: Michael Kern, thegardensofeden.org A look at the critically endangered gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula (P. metallica) from the underside. Metallic blue color can be seen on the femurs. Credit: Michael Kern, thegardensofeden.org © 2015 Phys.org A look at the critically endangered gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula (P. metallica) from the underside. Metallic blue color can be seen on the femurs. Credit: Michael Kern, thegardensofeden.org A microscopic image of a multilayer nanostructure inside a tarantula’s hair that is responsible for its vibrant blue color. Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego A microscopic image of a multilayer nanostructure inside a tarantula’s hair that is responsible for its vibrant blue color. Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego A front view shot of a critically endangered gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula (P. metallica) and its reflection. Credit: Michael Kern, thegardensofeden.org Scientists have known for quite some time that many species of tarantula have parts that are colored blue, but have not been able to figure out why that is. In this latest effort, the researchers sought to find that answer by looking at digital image of 53 genera, focusing on the different hues between species and the location of the coloring. They followed that up by obtaining samples of several species and examined them under a normal microscope and then used reflectance spectroscopy and electron microscopy to get a better look.Their close analysis revealed that the blue hue comes about due to the arrangement of nanocrystals in the hairs that grow on their body, which reflect blue wavelengths of light, though not all the shades in the different species are the same—they are very close. They also found evidence that indicated that the blue color evolved separately at least eight different times in different species, suggesting there must be a strong purpose for it, though they still do not know what it is. They also found that not all species cause blue light to be reflected in the same way, suggesting that it is not related to a different trait such as an ability to repel water. Journal information: Science Advances In addition to having poor eyesight, the researchers report that the tarantulas do not appear to try to use their blue color to capture the attention of a mate, suggesting the purpose is likely for signaling, such as to help with evading predators, or fooling prey. How that might work though, remains a mystery especially when noting that tarantulas are nocturnal—they hunt at night. Despite not solving the riddle of the blue hue, the work by the team did show that the colorations though bright, are not very iridescent, a finding that with more study could lead to wide-angle lenses for phones that are less energy intensive. More information: B.-K. Hsiung et al. Blue reflectance in tarantulas is evolutionarily conserved despite nanostructural diversity, Science Advances (2015). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500709AbstractSlight shifts in arrangement within biological photonic nanostructures can produce large color differences, and sexual selection often leads to high color diversity in clades with structural colors. We use phylogenetic reconstruction, electron microscopy, spectrophotometry, and optical modeling to show an opposing pattern of nanostructural diversification accompanied by unusual conservation of blue color in tarantulas (Araneae: Theraphosidae). In contrast to other clades, blue coloration in phylogenetically distant tarantulas peaks within a narrow 20-nm region around 450 nm. Both quasi-ordered and multilayer nanostructures found in different tarantulas produce this blue color. Thus, even within monophyletic lineages, tarantulas have evolved strikingly similar blue coloration through divergent mechanisms. The poor color perception and lack of conspicuous display during courtship of tarantulas argue that these colors are not sexually selected. Therefore, our data contrast with sexual selection that typically produces a diverse array of colors with a single structural mechanism by showing that natural selection on structural color in tarantulas resulted in convergence on similar color through diverse structural mechanisms.Press release (Phys.org)—A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Akron and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has found via lab study that the blue color present in many species of tarantula does not appear to be related to attracting a mate. As they report in their paper published in the journal Science Advances, both genders have limited eyesight and do not appear able to discern the color blue. A critically endangered adult female gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula (P. metallica), native to India. A blue hair is observed under an electron microscope. The hair is symmetric with an array of rod-like, tubular foldings projecting longitudinally on its periphery.  Organized multilayered nanostructures were observed, which produced the bright blue reflection as seen under the microscope. Credit: Tom Patterson [upper]; B.-K. Hsiung, UAkron [lower]; D. Deheyn. UC San Diego (SIO) Image: Pluto’s blue sky Citation: Study suggests blue hue for tarantulas not about attracting a mate (2015, November 30) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-blue-hue-tarantulas.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more