Posts Tagged ‘Miami’

NBA: Finals-San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

NBA: Finals-San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat (Photo credit: completely deck)

 

There are moments in sports that prove larger than life. For the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat that moment approaches in San Antonio, Texas.

 

After two games in Miami the Spurs and Heat have each drawn blood and drawn even.

 

Many now see this series as a “best-of-five” situation, where perhaps they should see it as a “best-of-the-next-three,” and here’s why: the winner of the three-game series in San Antonio will win the championship.

 

Let’s just take a look at the three possible scenarios at stake – either team sweeps, the Spurs win two of three, or the Heat win two of three.

 

The first scenario is obvious and needs no expounding upon. If either team sweeps the San Antonio series they will have won the Finals series 4-1. What may not be obvious is the answer to the question, “which team has a better chance at accomplishing said task?”

 

It may be tempting to give the Spurs the benefit of the doubt, seeing as it is their home court and, surely, the thought of not having to return to Miami for either Game 6 or 7 must give quite a lot of motivation. History, however, would lean towards Miami.

 

Since forming the Miami “Big Three,” the Heat have lost Game 1 four times (including this series). They did not lose another game in any of those three prior series, including the Thunder Finals series last season. It’s highly unlikely that that trend should continue, however.

 

So which, then, of the other possible scenarios is more likely to occur? – San Antonio or Miami winning two of three games?

 

To answer this, one must determine which team is more likely to win Game 3.

 

Miami will enter Game 3 with an anticipated higher confidence. The fact that Tim Duncan didn’t play a minute of the 4th quarter and the rest of the Spurs starters hit the bench with 7:43 remaining in the game could have done nothing but dampen the confidence level of San Antonio.

 

Hope is not lost, though, for Spurs fans. The best coach in the NBA is at the helm of the Spurs in Gregg Popovich and, as many coaches will agree, it is easier to make adjustments and thus improve after a loss than a win. Popovich will have a big task in front of him as turnovers were the Spurs downfall and forcing turnovers the Heat’s biggest strength. If the Miami Heat can continue to pressure the Spurs into turning the ball over with their stifling defense, the Spurs may have no chance at victory apart from stellar defense of their own and lights-out shooting from behind the arch.

 

Game 3 is also a must-win for the Spurs for the fact that Miami is 11-0 following a loss. If Miami wins Game 3 and follows their trend of no-back-to-back losses, the Spurs cannot make up the difference.

 

If San Antonio wins Game 3, and split Games 4 and 5 with the Heat, they force Miami’s back to the wall and force them to win Games 6 and 7, a feat that is not impossible by any stretch but certainly daunting.

 

If Miami wins two of the three games in San Antonio, you can all but kiss the Spurs’ chances at a fifth title goodbye.

 

 

 

***  Historical Tidbits  ***

 

In all four of the Spurs’ prior championship victories, they had home court advantage in the best-of-seven series.

 

Only once have the Spurs split the first two games 1-1 in the Finals – against the Nets in 2003. Spurs won in 6.

 

Miami’s “Big 3” is 8-3 in Game 3’s

In the last seven Finals series when started 1-1, the team that won the next best-of-three-games series won the title six  times.

 

 

 

It’s time once again for postseason greatness in the NBA.

Here are the Eastern Conference series:

(1) Miami Heat vs (8) Milwaukee Bucks

(2) New York Knicks vs (7) Boson Celtics

(3) Indiana Pacers vs (6) Atlanta Hawks

(4) Brooklyn Nets vs (5) Chicago Bulls

Break Downs and Predictions:

(1) Heat vs (8) Bucks:

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This series hardly requires any breaking down. Simply put, the Miami Heat are out of the Bucks’ league.

It’s possible that the Bucks may come within ten points of the Heat in one or two of the games, but even that is being optimistic.

Prediction – Miami wins series 4-0

(2) Knicks vs (7) Celtics:

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Much like the “2-vs-7” match-up in the West between the Spurs and Lakers, this series is very likely going to the final seventh game.

The New York Knicks have seen MVP level play from star Forward Carmelo Anthony and stellar support from J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler.

The Celtics have been coping with the loss of All-Star Point Guard Rajon Rondo to an ACL injury. Stepping up to fill the void has been Avery Bradley. Forward Jeff Green has provided much needed scoring and will likely be the “X-factor” in the Knicks series.

Because both teams have formidable scoring threats as well as defensive abilities, I would give the edge to the better head coach. Doc Rivers is one of, if not the best coach in the East.

Prediction – Boston wins series 4-3

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(3) Pacers vs (6) Hawks:

They should call this series the “under-the-radar” series.

Both the Indiana Pacers and Atalanta Hawks have done simply just enough over the course of the season to make the playoffs without turning many heads or making any waves.

This strategy worked well for the Pacers last season as they proved the first real test on the Heat’s road to their championship, nearly stealing the series while Dwyane Wade struggled and Chris Bosh recovered from injury.

The Hawks pose no such threat to the Pacers who, even without Danny Granger, should handle Atlanta without much issue.

Prediction – Indiana wins series 4-2

(4) Nets vs (5) Bulls:

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The Chicago Bulls surely thought they’d be going into the first round of the playoffs this season with a healthy Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

That, however, is not their reality as Rose continues his rehab months after being cleared by team doctors to return to action.

The Brooklyn Nets pose a large challenge for the shorthanded Bulls with All-Star Center Brook Lopez and elite Point Guard Deron Williams enjoying home court advantage.

The biggest chance the Bulls stand at beating the Nets is by exploiting their physical play. The X-factors for Chicago will be Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson.

Prediction – Chicago wins series 4-3

That wraps up the Eastern Conference first round match-ups. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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Back in the late 90’s, the Knicks and Heat played with intensity vying for top spot in the East.

Patrick Ewing, John Starks, and Coach Jeff Van Gundy vs Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, and Coach Pat Riley.

Enter Miami’s “Big 3”; LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh squaring off against New York’s “Big 2” (will be 3 after summer); Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.

This is the future of the East with Celtics “Big 3” getting older and slower.

New York’s victory at Miami Sunday night proves even more that the rivalry is back.

Whenever anyone asks me who my favorite NBA team is, the answer is always “whoever LeBron James is playing for.”

So many people began to hate LeBron James when he announced he would leave Cleveland to go to Miami and play for the Heat.

Personally, I don’t think it was that big of a deal. Yes, he might have received less negative reactions had he told the Cavaliers privately first his intentions to leave, but he also made a lot of money by announcing it on the ESPN special “the decision”.

Let’s not forget… basketball is his job and I would have sold out for much much less than LeBron received so I can’t judge. I think people forget that LeBron has been famous since his junior year of high school. He is very much used to the spotlight and if he acts a little differently than you or I would, it’s got a lot do with that. And honestly, if the worst thing that LeBron James has done in the 6 years he’s been in the league is the way that he announced his decision in free agency, then that’s a stand up guy.

He doesn’t have gambling problems, hasn’t shot himself in the leg, hasn’t killed someone driving drunk, hasn’t been accused of sexually harassing anyone. He just handles his business on the court. LeBron has the skill and ability to be the most dominant player the NBA has ever seen. He can score at will with amazing ball handling and shot accuracy from short to deep, deep range. He can jump through the roof and is one of the best defenders in the league as well.

LeBron’s most amazing talent, I think, is his court awareness. At any time, it seems LeBron knows the exact location of every team-mate and will dish an around-the-back pass to one with perfect timing and accuracy. LeBron draws the attention of not just his defenders but the entire building. Everyone wants to see what LeBron will do and it’s easier to break off and get open as a teammate when LeBron is driving to the hoop, easily capable of throwing it down, but instead kicks it out to the open teammate for 3. All because of the attention he draws on offense.

Alone, yet surrounded by a cast of competent enough players, James can beat 85% of the teams in the NBA and showed that the last 3-4 seasons with the Cavaliers. Now that LeBron has all-stars around him nightly to give an outlet pass on the breakaway to, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Heat are now finally in their groove and have won 21 of their last 22 games.

LeBron is making himself most useful as a facilitator. James will get his whenever and however he wants, but Wade, Bosh, and even the rest of the Heat are benefitting from James’ ability to draw off defenders and make a good player look great and a decent player look good. Given 2 of his teammates are great players already, safe to say the Heat are the top contender in the East.

Plus, have you seen the Cavs lately? They went from best record in the NBA 2 years in a row, to last place in the NBA halfway through the first year without James.

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College football is drawing to a close. With just the BCS National Championship left (of the games we care about) it’s time for another edition of 5 things to remember and forget.

5 Things to Remember:

1. Cam Newton is not out of the woods.

If you’ll all remember the Reggie Bush saga, there were accusations and speculations regarding whether or not Bush had accepted payment for his abilities while still at USC. It wasn’t until 5 years later, long after Bush had been in the NFL, that the investigations were concluded and the sanctions laid down.

If I were the NCAA, I would have done the same thing regarding Newton with the amount of evidence present at the time. Remember, it’s much better to hold off on punishment until all skeletons are uncovered than to discipline in anticipation of finding said skeletons.

Believe me, Cam’s case is being prepared and thorough investigations are in order, even if the NCAA hasn’t gone public with each step of the process. Besides, the NCAA is benefitting greatly from Newton playing just as they did Bush. Just saying.

2. The landscape of college football changes drastically next season with the expansion of conferences.

Nebraska to the Big 10, Utah and CU to the PAC-10, TCU to the Big East, and BYU moving independent. The moves alone would be big enough, but now throw in 2 new conference championship games, the Big 12 losing their championship game, and you have a huge shake-up.

The Mountain West Conference, in essence, has become the WAC but with better lower tier teams than the WAC had. Boise State Community College will remain a BCS buster while Utah and TCU vie for an automatic bid (TCU more than likely will be conference champ favorite off the bat).

3. The SEC will remain the most elite conference.

I know, I know, the SEC gets more respect than it deserves before the season even starts, but let’s just take a quick glance at the conference rundown. The SEC has won the national championship the last 4 years in a row and has a contender in Auburn in the game this year.

The 7th ranked team in the conference was Florida. The 7th best teams in the other “elite” conferences are as follows; Big 12 – Kansas State, ACC – North Carolina, Big 10 – Michigan, Big East – Cincinnati, PAC-10 – Arizona. The best part is that only 2 teams in the SEC were not bowl eligible by season’s end. Impressive to say the least.

4. USC still isn’t post season eligible.

The reason I mention this is that Utah will be a member the PAC-12 South Division, made up of USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, and CU. Of these teams, the only one I’m concerned about is possibly Arizona, because Utah plays them at Arizona. Since USC will be ineligible for postseason play, Utah gets the conference championship slot even with second place in the division under USC.

5. Remember Boise State and Notre Dame will be the only teams likely to be BCS busters next year.

Although Boise State got a rude awakening as to how far 1 loss will drop you when you play in the WAC, having to play in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl while other one loss teams received BCS invites, they will certainly remain a force in their new home, the Mountain West Conference.

Brian Kelly finally started getting things clicking for Notre Dame, as they destroyed Miami in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX. Freshman QB Tommy Rees had a great game and will be returning next season to Kelly’s offense. Should be interesting to see what he can do next season.

5 Things to Forget:

1. Forget about the WAC.

Even though they found a few teams to fill holes, they’re pulling no-names. University of Texas San Antonio, Texas State University, and Denver University will replace Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii…totally balances out.

Hard to believe that the WAC used to be home to Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, TCU, and BYU at one time or another the last 35 years.

2. Stanford can forget about the success they’ve seen the last few years.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is likely headed to the NFL, and starting QB Andrew Luck is surely headed to the NFL as well. Likely destinations for Harbaugh include the Denver Broncos, working under Stanford alum John Elway, the 49ers in nearby San Francisco, or even the Miami Dolphins.

Luck will be the #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft in all likelihood. Sorry Stanford.

3. Forget about the SEC national championship streak.

Oregon plays at a pace Auburn hasn’t seen yet. Sure, Auburn will get theirs, but as I’ve said all season, Oregon might not be the most completely balanced team (like TCU) but they are the nations most unbeatable team. Their offense is outstanding and they don’t slow down. Even if Auburn can keep it close through 3 quarters, they won’t for 4.

4. BYU can forget about long-term independence.

The minute the Big 12 decides to replace Nebraska and Colorado, BYU will be at the top of the short list of candidates.

If not for weakness in all categories other than football, Boise State would be considered with the Cougars but the Big 12 does have SOME pride in it’s academics and sports outside football. Can you picture Kansas vs Boise State as a basketball conference game? Yikes.

5. Forget about the good old days when college football news consisted of stories and reports on the game itself.

With ESPN Sportscenter, 24/7 news and blog updates, Twitter, Facebook and endless other media outlets, the stories that get the most face-time are the scandals, firings, and drama. Fans can only read about the game itself so many times before needing to search out other forums with more debatable topics than the stats and highlights.

In reaching the final chapter of this college football season, hopefully we can all remember the history and memories made in 2010 and forget our teams’ struggles and move forward with hopes of a brighter twenty-11.

The “King” for a reason

Posted: October 12, 2010 by Dan Condie in LeBron James, NBA
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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LeBron James’ disapproval rating skyrocketed this summer to the point where he was in the top 5 most hated athletes up with Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Vick.

When NBA fans with a negative opinion of James are asked to explain themselves and their hated, many answers include, “I didn’t like how he went about the whole ‘decision’ thing”, or “he thinks he is the best thing in the world”, “he stabbed his fans in the back”…the list goes on.

Most all of the people I know that hated on LBJ before this Summer were Lakers/Kobe Bryant fans.

Kobe Bryant fans had a great time watching the “LeBron James Show” this Summer because most all the fence sitters on the Kobe/LeBron issue either swayed towards Kobe or at least strayed from LeBron.

Kobe fans, there’s nothing I hate worse than the sports fan that won’t credit the opposing teams’ successes along with cheering their failures, so I’ll start by saying Kobe Bryant is one of the best players in the NBA. He has more finesse than anyone to play before him and can score at will against any player one on one…when his shot is on.

You cannot call LeBron’s game graceful or full of finesse, but he is the most athletically gifted and highest caliber talent in the NBA. Kobe may have nights where he goes off for gaudy numbers, but LeBron James phones in triple doubles.

James said himself, in an interview last season, that he could won the scoring title every year, if he wanted to.

The fact is, LeBron James has one solitary goal in mind and it isn’t scoring titles, money, or media love. It’s winning championships. Yup, multiple.

Lets be realists for a second. LeBron gave Cleveland more than a fair shake. He did not choose to be drafted by Cleveland. (speaking of giving up on the court, the Cavs have been accused of throwing games in 2003 in order to raise their lotto pick chances). LeBron could have left the Cavaliers after his second year, but he signed a 4 year extension and received no solid #2 guy to help him out.

Everyone knows LeBron has more money than he knows what to do with. But if ESPN pitches the idea to run an hour long special for making his decision and would pay millions for something you were going to have to do anyway, you’d do much worse things than accepting a promotion on live TV and you all know it. I would do more offensive things for less money.

Bottom line is, LeBron hasn’t been a distraction off the court, hasn’t been in legal trouble, hasn’t been a sex-crazed idiot, has really only ever performed every single night at a level no one ever has.

So when the reasons why people are hating on the guy are all seemingly based on the way he did his job, that’s when I have issues. Cuz lets not forget, you go to the office, make sales, whatever your job may be, and LeBron plays in the NBA. He was a free agent and he chose to relocate and work in A. A better location with B. Better surrounding talent.

Know why I dislike the above athletes? Rape, steroids, cheating, and killing dogs. Do I love watching them play their respective sports? Absolutely. But I’m one of those sports fans that can separate the game from the drama. So should everyone else.

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Oh man, what a week! I love college football.

This week had so many shake-ups and big stories, the articles are basically writing themselves.

5 Things to Remember

1. Utah DESTROYED Iowa State. They put up 68 points. Methodically, they ran successful drive after successful drive, while the defense picked 2 passes, and the special teams return squad was unstoppable. Utah is looking like a top 5 team right now. Remember the date Nov. 6th. This is when TCU comes to Salt Lake.

2. Remember 2008. Florida lost to Ole Miss and tore through their remaining schedule to battle back from a #9 ranking to beat #1 Alabama in the SEC championship game and beat Oklahoma in the National Championship game. If Alabama can win out from here, with a lot of help from teams ahead of them, they could end up in the same position. Just remember.

3. Remember newly named #1 Ohio State has to play #18 Wisconsin next week in Madison. This will be the second big test for Ohio State this season (Miami in week 2 was the 1st). Also, ESPN Gameday will be there.

4. Remember Michigan State shut down Denard Robinson. Michigan State has won the last 3 meetings between the rivals. The Spartans’ one big remaining challenge will be playing Iowa on the road Oct. 30th.

5. Remember Florida State has only one loss this season to #6 Oklahoma. They have BCS aspirations now that their biggest conference challenge Miami is in their rearview mirror. Look for the Seminoles to make a huge splash in the ACC.

5 Things to Forget

1. Forget Utah State making a bowl game if they lose one more game. I really thought last week’s victory would carry over into their game at LA Tech.

2. Forget about a clear cut winner by season’s end. There are probably 4-5 teams that can reasonably end the season undefeated. Could get interesting.

3. Forget about USC. They won’t need to argue their bowl eligibility when you’re talking Emerald Bowl range.

4. Forget about a non-AQ team playing in the National Championship game. Voters have showed they are willing to play the jumping game. Oregon, and Nebraska have already jumped TCU. Just Oregon has jumped Boise State but will likely stay there.

5. Forget about Michigan finishing in the top 25 if they can’t get back to the offensive production they had the first 4 weeks. They still have Ohio State’s defense and Iowa’s as well. Its gonna be interesting watching the rest of the Wolverine’s year.

Remember not to punt the ball, kickoff to, or even let Utah’s return men touch the ball, or you can forget anything but the name on the back of the jersey.

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The King is fallen! The almighty Alabama Crimson Tide lost for the first time since the Sugar Bowl  to the University of Utah Utes January 2009. The loss came at the hands of #19 South Carolina. Alabama was down huge early, 21-3 at the beginning of the second quarter. In fact, Alabama didn’t outscore Alabama in a single quarter (best quarter was tying the 4th 7-7). But don’t worry Bama fans. If we know anything about the pollsters, a #1 team never falls out of the top ten after just one loss on the road to a ranked team.

What a great week it turned out to be for the non-AQ hopefuls; TCU, Boise State, and Utah. Boise State not only beat Toledo 57-14, but previous opponents Oregon State and Virginia Tech won big games this week, thus strengthening Boise’s case for the BCS. TCU dismantled Wyoming in Fort Worth 45-0 , and Utah obliterated Iowa State 68-27.

Yes, you heard me correctly. The team that put up a monstrous 52 points on Texas Tech last week got embarrassed in their own house by the Utes. The Utes were subbing in the 2nd and 3rd string at the same times as when they played San Jose State and New Mexico. There was a bit of bye week rust on the Utes in the first quarter, when they found themselves down 14-10 after the 1st quarter, but they shook it off and scored 31 unanswered points in the 2nd quarter. It was over from there.

Miami got surprised by ACC foe Florida State 45-17. Florida State had no problem running the ball against the Hurricanes. Florida State seems to be shaking off that Oklahoma loss really well.

LSU had a big week as well, beating Florida in Gainesville 33-29 on a touchdown pass with 6 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. The big play of the drive that set that score up was a fake field goal, in which, the kicker took a pitch from the place holder and ran for the first down, keeping the drive alive. Florida has now lost consecutive games in conference play.

Michigan State showed this weekend that their defense, at least, is for real, holding in-state rival Michigan to just 162 rushing yards and picked Denard Robinson 3 times. They cruised to a 34-17 victory.

Arizona’s luck finally ran out this week as they lost a close one to Oregon State 29-27. Another close PAC-10 game that was close to the last tick of the game clock was USC at Stanford. The Cardinal kicked a 30 yard field goal as time expired (I think USC is getting tired of that) to beat the Trojans  37-35.

Overall, another great week of college football full of close games, upsets, and blowouts. College football needs to figure out a way to lengthen their seasons a few months.

Bryant, Jordan, and James

I can admit it, along with millions of other fans, I fell victim to the conceived marketing ploy of King James and found myself in front of the TV watching ESPN’s, “The Decision.” Not only that, I found my heart thumping a little bit as they came back from each commercial, wondering if this would be the moment we’d all been waiting for. Moments later my heart sunk as my fears became reality, LeBron James would be taking his talents down to South Beach.

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With NCAA football fall camps opening up around the country the next few weeks, it’s time to get pumped and ready for college football people!

I gave my MWC predictions last week for which place each team would finish in the 2010 season. Now, with media days for all the conferences this week, and all the attention being given to college football, I figured I’d give my predictions for who will be conference champ at season’s end in each BCS and mid-major conference in the FBS.

So lets cycle through the BCS first shall we?

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