Boy there was a lot going on this weekend and The Stack is here to talk about as much of it as we can. From basketball to hockey. From horse racing to tennis. Let's talk about it all. So let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, June 11:
1. Heat oust Celtics, will face Thunder in NBA Finals
For the second consecutive year, the Miami Heat are in the NBA Finals following their 101-88 victory over the Boston Celtics in game seven. It wasn't easy. The Celtics came out on fire, and held a seven point lead at the half. But the Heat, just like they've done multple times this postseason roared back in the second half and won the game. LeBron James was his normal self, scoring 31 points and grabbing twelve rebounds. But it was Shane Battier who had four three-pointers and Chris Bosh who added 19 rebounds and eight rebounds who really helped the Heat win this game. James can only do so much. He needs help and in game seven, when it mattered most, Battier and Bosh had huge games. Now they'll face the young, up-and-coming Thunder who will not back down from a challenge. Which big three will be the best? The Thunder or the Heat? The NBA Finals start Tuesday at 9:00 PM ET on ABC. They will be very, very good.
As for the Celtics, their run with their big three is very likely over. KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have likely made their last big playoff run together. The Celtics now have to focus on building a team around Rajon Rondo. They can do it, but it will be difficult to compete with the Heat and the Bulls next year.
2. Devils making it a series with the Kings
Down three games to none, the New Jersey Devils looked down in the water and the Los Angeles Kings would be skating around with the Stanley Cup sooner than later. My how two games can change all that. The Devils are right back in the series following their 2-1 win Saturday night over the Kings to make the series 3-2. Martin Brodeur was once again magnificent in net for the Devils. He is playing like the young Marty Brodeur of the 1990s when the Devils started winning championships. The bounces that had been going the Kings way are not the past two games. Pucks are defelecting differently now. The Devils game-winning goal came off of a deflection that got by Jonathan Quick. The Kings are hitting posts. They're getting denied on breakaways as Jarret Stoll can attest to when Brodeur made a sprawling save on him in the second period that could have tied the game up. Are the Kings withering underneath the pressure? They're one win away and they need to get it together because if they lose game six, they will not win this series. Losing in New Jersey in game five Saturday night was the Kings first loss on the road this season. Can you imagine them winning a game seven on the road for the Stanley Cup? It's possible, but not probable. Game six is very important. And the puck on game six drops tonight at 8:00 PM ET on NBC. It will be a great game. Can't wait.
3. Sharapova wins French Open, Nadal-Djokovic in a rain delay
Maria Sharapova has finally done it. She completed the career grand slam with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Sara Errani to win her first French Open title of her career. She becomes only the tenth woman ever to win all four major tournaments in tennis history. Sharapova's career has been a bumpy one. She has battled through plenty of injuries and suffered her fair share of early exits and upsets. There is no denying though that Sharapova is one of the most talented tennis players in the world. Who knows how long her career will last, but this will not be her last major title. Barring injury, she's got another title or two in her.
The men's final looks like it's becoming a classic between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans, forcing the match to be suspended in the fourth set with Nadal up 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2. Nadal looked like he was in complete of this match after two sets and winning the first two games of the third set. But with the rain starting to come and Djokovic desperately trying to get back in to the match, something changed. Nadal wasn't returing the ball like he was the first couple of sets. He was getting some bad bounces. He guessed wrong and Djokovic took advantage. It looked as though Djokovic had another spring in his step. Will the momentum continue today though after the rain has come and gone and Nadal has had a chance to sleep off the frustration, because he was clearly frustrated yesterday and did not have any issue showing it. He dropped his first set of the tournament against Djokovkic and now has to try to regain momentum in the match back. This will be an enteraining end to the match. Coverage will be on NBC.
4. Euro Cup is underway
The world's most popular sport is on in full display as the Euro Cup has begun with Poland and Ukraine serving as the host countries. Four groups each with four teams are embarking on the quest to be the best football country in Europe for at least the next four years. Group D plays today. Yesterday Spain and Italy went to a 1-1 draw while Croatia defeated Ireland 3-1. The upset of the tournment came Saturday when Denmark dfeated the Netherlands 1-0. The Netherlands still have a pretty good shot at making it out of group play in my opinion. Germany and the Netherlands are the top two teams in my opinion with Italy and Spain the other top teams in the tournament. Unfortunately both Italy and Spain are in my one group (group C) and Germany and the Netherlands are in another group (group B). This is an exciting tournament, almost as exciting as the World Cup. It will be an interesting and exciting few weeks of soccer.
5. Union Rags wins Belmont
The excitement and anticipation of the Belmont Stakes ended abruptly Friday when I'll Have Another was scratched due to an initial prognosis of tendinits in one of his legs. Plenty of questions were asked of trainer Doug O'Neill and I'll Have Another's owner as to whether or not I'll Have Another could have raced or not. They said he could have, but why risk further injuring him and what if he had to be put down? That would have been awful. Still, the hopes of having a horse win the triple crown were dashed.
Yet when the race started, the action was really really good. Paynter was ahead for almost the entire race but Union Rags, the odds on favorite to win the race after I'll Have Another was scratched, rallied back to win an exciting Belmont Stakes. Union Rags was still trailing with one hundred yards to go when he charged ahead and was able to get by Paynter to win by a nose. Sure it wasn't the horse who most people wanted to see win and it didn't have the same anticipation and energy that would have been at the racetrack had I'll Have Another been in the race, but it was still a very exciting race with a very suspensful and stunning ending.
Before we go, sad news to report out of Auburn University, where three current and former football players were shot late Saturday night early Sunday morning at an off-campus party. Ladarious Phillips 20, and Ed Christian 20, were killed and Eric Mack was shot and is in a hospital recovering from his gunshot wounds. Sad news. They were not causing trouble. Just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thoughts and prayers go out to all families and friends involved.
Coming up Tuesday: Stanley Cup Final game 6 reaction plus other top sports stories.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are alwayas welcomed and appreciated.