The Stack is back after a day off with a few things to talk about today. Oklahoma has a team in the NBA Finals, the Devils are still alive and a coach in New York received a pay raise. What else made "the stack"? Find out now for today, Thursday, June 6:
1. Thunder advance to the NBA Finals
Down by eighteen points in the first half, it didn't look good for the young Oklahoma City Thunder. The San Antonio Spurs were playing lights out, shooting over 60 percent from three-point range and Tony Parker had shaken off a very bad couple of games and dominated the first half. Surely the veteran Spurs would know that a run by the Thunder would be coming in the second half. Evidentally not. The Thunder came out in the third quarter and led by Kevin Durant, started hitting shots left and right. Their defense came to life to, stopping the Spurs and forcing them to take difficult shots. Yet the Spurs held a one point lead going into the fourth quarter, but it didn't last long. The Thunder energy and hot shooting was just too much and led by Durant's 34 points and timely buckets by James Harden and Derek Fisher, the Thunder outlasted the Spurs 107-99 to advance to their first NBA Finals since moving to Oklahoma City. This team is a lot of fun to watch and will be the favorite to win the NBA Finals, regardless of who comes out of the east. They have a star in Durant, a fantastic point guard in Russell Westbrook and a weapon off the bench in Harden. Tough to stop that. This may very well be the end of the run for the Spurs. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are all aging and one has to wonder if they can put together another run like they did this season. Highly unlikely. The Spurs had a good dominant run, but that appears to be coming to an end.
Will the Thunder's opponent in the NBA Finals be decided tonight? The Boston Celtics look to wrap up the series at home tonight, leading 3-2 against the Miami Heat tonight at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN.
2. Devils remain alive in Stanley Cup Finals
The New Jersey Devils did not want their season to end in a sweep in the Stanley Cup Finals and they came out and played like it in game four. Scoreless through two periods, the New Jersey Devils got the first goal of the game by Patrik Elias to give them a 1-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings. But just a minute later, seconds after David Clarkson was called for a boarding penalty, Drew Doughty let a laser go to tie the game up 1-1. If you're a Devil or a Devils fan, wouldn't you be just deflated? All the momentum clearly swung to the Kings. But the Devils never gave up. And the man who did was not a veteran, but a rookie. Yes, Adam Henrique, playing like anything but a rookie this postseason continued to show his clutch gene with a beautiful goal off a cross ice pass that got past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the top part of the net to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. They added an empty net goal to seal the deal 3-1 and now trail in the series 3-1. So the Stanley Cup has to be put back in its box and flown back to Jersey until game five Saturday night when the Kings can once again win it 8:00 PM ET on NBC. It should be a good game and maybe the Devils will just be able to make this a series.
3. NFL quick hits
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will hear current and former Saints players bounty appeals on June 18th. Just like the first time, don't expect Goodell to overturn his original decision. He does though need to provide evidence of what the Saints players did under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams or people may start to doubt, if they haven't already, that Goodell has any evidence at all...Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes will attend "Jets West" hosted by quarterback Mark Sanchez. Given their relationship at the end of last year, this is a good move by Holmes...Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon apologized to the team and the fans on Wednesday and says he's given up drinking...for now. How long until he lifts the ban? Until after his rookie contract gets sign. A sign of immaturity? Definitely...The New York Giants have extended head coach Tom Coughlin's current deal by two years 2014. So technically, Coughlin has three years on his deal worth almost $20 million. Given that he's won two Super Bowls in eight years in the country's toughest media market, I'd say that's well deserved...And finally, former Cincinnati Bengal Nate Webster has been sentenced to twelve years in prison for having sex with a minor. Sad and disgusting story.
4. New York Jets 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights
The Jets may finally be on the backpage of the New York media tablets after the Giants won the Super Bowl last year. Oh wait, they have Tim Tebow now. Of course that's not going to happen. No big prediction from head coach Rex Ryan on a Super Bowl. That's probably a smart decision. He's a fast learner that Rex. The Jets full schedule can be found here. Now let's take a look at some interesting notes on the upcoming Fighting Mike Greenbergs schedule:
- The Jets have a heavy home schedule the first half of the season with five of their first eight games played at the New Meadowlands.
- The Jets have back to back road contests against NFC west opponents Seattle and St. Louis (weeks 10 and 11 respectively) and AFC south opponents Jacksonville and Tennessee (weeks 14 and 15 respectively).
- The Jets play the rival Patriots Thanksgiving night 8:20 PM ET NBC
- The team has four primetime games this year (week 5 vs. Houston 8:30 PM ET ESPN, week 12 vs. New England on Thanksgiving, week 15 @ Tennessee 8:30 PM ET, week 16 vs. San Diego 8:20 PM ET NBC).
- The Jets start the season at home against Buffalo and finish the year on the road at Buffalo.
Friday's team: Oakland Raiders
A couple other notes to pass along before we go. Congrats to the women at Alabama who won their first softball championship in school history. And New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will have surgery on his injured right knee June 12. He vows to make a return in 2013.
Coming up Friday: NBA recap, Belmont preview plus other top sports stories
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.