The Stack is here on this Monday after a very nice weekend. Hopefully everyone had a happy father's day and everyone wished their dad a happy father's day. Boy wasn't yesterday a fascinating sports day with the conclusion of the U.S. Open and the game three of the NBA Finals? We'll be talking plenty about both of those in a second as well as a few other things so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, June 18:
1. Heat win game three to take 2-1 series lead
The Miami Heat now sit two wins away from the NBA title following their 91-85 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night to take a 2-1 series lead. The game started out much better for the Thunder, not having to come back from a huge deficit earl on. In fact, they grabbed a quick 4-2 lead giving them their first lead in the first half of the NBA Finals. It was close at half with the Heat up 47-46. But once again, foul trouble plagued the Thunder. They had a ten point lead in the third quarter, but with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the bench, the Thunder could not keep the lead watching the Heat make a run. This game like the previous two was decided by free throws. The Heat are making almost all of theirs, going 31 for 35 from the line in game three whereas the Thunder struggled going just 15 for 24. Durant missed a pair of free throws in the fourth that could have given the Thunder the lead. The Thunder are normally a very good free throw shooting team so this is very uncharacteristic for them. And it is costing them this series.
The Heat are attacking the paint and LeBron James is leading the way. The Heat couldn't buy a jumpshot at all this game, but they were able to get in and score points in the paint. Why LeBron tries to shoot jump shots is beyond me. He is so physically gifted and so strong. Why doesn't he just drive in every time he touches the ball and either dish or shoot a layup and possibly get fouled. I don't get it. He's done that the last two games and it has worked. Keep it up.
And finally for the Thunder, can someone please find James Harden and wake him up and tell him the NBA Finals have started? He has been terrible in this series. It's almost like he's holding the Thunder back. Wasn't he winner of the sixth man of the year this year? He should give it back. Nine points last night on two for ten shooting including zero for four from three. Yes he did have six rebounds and six assists, but that's not good enough. He needs to knock down some shots and help his team win a game. I'm starting to doubt more and more that the Thunder will win another game in this series. The jump shots have to fall and they have got to hang onto leads when they have them and not commit silly mistakes. Game four is Tuesday night in Miami 9:00 PM ET on ABC.
2. Webb Simpson wins U.S. Open
Another major, another winner, yet another name most likely no one but the avid golf fan had heard. Webb Simpson won the 112th U.S. Open with a final score of one over (+1). But to give Simpson credit, he did shoot four under (-4) over the weekend (68 and 68 respectively). The weather did play a big of a role on Sunday with fog rolling in on what had been an absolutely gorgeous week of golf weather. Yet weather was not the top story in the final round. Nor was Tiger Woods, who after holding a share of the lead after Friday messed up royally on Saturday and again on Sunday, never getting into contention and finishing seven over (+7). Sadly, 17-year old Beau Hossler could not hold it together and be a factor in the tournament. What a story it would have been if young Mr. Hossler could have been right up there with a chance to win the Open, which would have made him the youngest Open champion in history. He finished nine over (+9) for the tournament following his final round score of 76.
Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell were each tied for the lead at one under (-1) entering the day. Unfortunately for McDowell, he could not find the fairway at all off of his drives it seemed yet still had a putt on the eighteenth hole to tie Webb and force a playoff. Furyk was holding steady throughtout the day, but a bogey on the sixteenth put him one stroke back of Webb and a failure to convert on an easy birdie hole on the par four seventeenth pretty much sealed Furyk's fate.
No this, this was about Webb Simpson who became the ninth different major winner in the last nine majors to win his first major. In fact, the last fifteen majors have all been one by different players, though some players had won previoius majors. It shows the widening range of talent in the sport of golf, but also that come courses can tame players. Unfortunately for golf, this lack of star power and non-household names will lead to poor ratings until Tiger or Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy step up their games and be in the running for a major championship on Sunday. Simpson was the best player on the course for the collective four days. Let's hope he enjoys future success. He's a very likeable guy. Congrats Simpson and best of luck the rest of your season.
3. Groups A & B wrap up group play in Euro Cup
A couple of countries predicted to do well in this year's Euro Cup are heading home, shocking their fans and countries and even some experts and analysts. In group A, Russia is gone following their stunning 1-0 loss to Greece. Russia was the number one country in their group according to many so it is rather amazing that they didn't advance. Greece is in from group A like we mentioned, advancing with four points. The other team? That would be the Czech Republic who finished as the top team in the group with six points.
In group B, the Netherlands are headed home after winning not one, not two but zero games in group play. This is a team that was in the World Cup final two years ago and to not win one game and fail to even earn a point with a draw is amazing. Highly disappointing for a team that many people, myself included, thought could make a run at winning it all. Their failure to win meant another country had to capitalize. And Portugal did just that with their 2-1 win over the Netherlands. Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals for Portugal. They advance out of group play with six points. The big winner though was Germany with nine points, winning all three of their matches after their 2-1 win over Denmark.
Today, we'll find out which two teams advance out of group C. Croatia takes on Spain at 2:45 PM ET and Italy battles Ireland at 2:45 PM ET. Both games will be on ESPN and ESPN2. Croatia and Spain each have four points. Should Italy beat Ireland and Croatia and Spain come to a draw, it will be interesting to see how the tiebreakers will come into play including goal differential. It will be a very ineteresting day on the pitch.
4. St. Louis Rams 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights
After taking a step forward a couple of years ago, the Rams took a major step back last season. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo is out. Jeff Fisher has control now and should have Rams fans excited. But with the uncertainty of the Rams future in St. Louis regarding their stadium situation, Rams fans have every right to be a little on edge. Their full schedule can be found here. And now here are some interesting notes and factson the Rams upcoming schedule.
- The Rams have a chance to start the season off on a good note. Five of their first eight games are at home.
- The Rams will be playing in London against the New England Patriots week 8.
- The Rams lone primetime game is agains the Arizona Cardinals week 5 8:20 PM ET NFL Network.
- The Rams alternate games with all but one team from the AFC East (week 6 @ Miami, week 8 vs. New England and week 11 vs. NY Jets (bye week 9)). They play @ Buffalo week 14 in case you were wondering.
- The Rams start the season on the road, @ Detroit, and end the season with two road games @ Tampa Bay and @ Seattle.
Tuesday's team: San Diego Chargers
Before we go, speaking of the Chargers, the best running back ever to put on a Charger uniform is retiring. LaDainian Tomlinson is signing a one-day contract to forally retire as a Charger. Tomlinson set all sorts of Chargers records and an NFL record 31 touchdowns in a single season. He spent nine seasons with the team and had a somewhat messy divorce with the team before heading to New York to play with the Jets for two seasons. There is no denying just how good of a career Tomlinson had. He will make it to the hall-of-fame easily, maybe even first ballot.
Coming up Tuesday: Top stories and headlines in sports from Monday. At some point this week, we will talk about the Jerry Sandusky trial.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.