"The Stack" is back today with a slightly shorter blog today. There just wasn't much happening yesterday. Oh wait, there was a game four of the NBA Finals and boy was it entertaining. We'll be talking that and more so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Wednesday, June 20:
1. Heat win wildly entertaining game, take 3-1 series lead
Wow! What a game! Have you caught your breath yet? The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder fought hard and played a terrific basketball game, and the Heat made the plays when they mattered down the stretch on their way to a 104-98 win and a 3-1 series lead. The game didn't start out pretty for the Heat as the Thunder dominated the first quarter grabbing a 33-19 lead at the end of the quarter. Russell Westbrook had ten points. But rookie Norris Cole knocked in a three at the end of the quarter to give Miami a little momentum which they carried into the second quarter erasing all but a fraction of the Thunder's big lead. At half, it 49-46 Thunder. Once the second half began, the Heat cranked up the defense and outscored the Thunder 33-26 in the third quarter. The Thunder were playing on their heals and playing terrible transition defense which led to easy Heat points. The fourth quarter was easily the most entertaining of them all with Westbrook telling his Thunder teammates (most likely James Harden in particular) "get on my back. I'll get us there." Westbrook was sensational, scoring at will. At one point, he had the Thunder's last thirteen points I believe. And no one was helping him out. Kevin Durant? Naw he was good. I mean two rebounds for a guy of his size and wingspan? Come on Durant. LeBron James suffered from cramps midway through the fourth quarter, but saved his most clutch shot when the Heat needed it most to break a 94-94 tie. He would sit out the final couple of minutes, but the Heat didn't need him as they would win the game.
Where to begin, where to begin? Well first off, lets commend Russell Westbrook for his performance. 43 points? Awesome. It was truly amazing. Yes Durant is the star, but Westbrook had the hot hand and the "i'm going to do this" attitude that very few other Thunder players showed. However, he made a couple of critical mistakes late. I thought the turnover he had when he dribbled the ball off his foot with the Thunder holding a 94-92 lead with under four minutes to play was the play of the game because it shifted momentum back to the Heat. Had Westbrook not turned the ball over and the Thunder scored on that possession, you're talking about a two possession game and putting all of the pressure on the Heat and putting them in a bind. No, instead the Heat score on that possession and tie the game up 94-94. Then with under fifteen seconds to go in the game, Westbrook fouled after the Heat won a jump ball when they only had five seconds to get a shot off. Westbrook had to have thought that the shotclock reset and that he had to foul. A bonehead play to say the least and it ended up costing the Thunder the game.
Second, the three point shooting disparity. The Thunder live and die by the jumpshot and they are dying in this series. They are shooting miserably from deep while the Heat can't seem to miss. Clutch three after clutch three kept going down for the Heat from players like Cole and Mario Chalmers who added 25 points, more points than he had combined the previous two games. Dwyane Wade added a big three point shot as did LeBron as mentioned earlier. The Heat made ten threes in game five to the Thunder's three. That's a twenty-one poit difference! It has kept the Heat in the game and gotten them leads that the Thunder can't seem to answer to.
Finally, James Harden is a shell of himself. Other than a decent game two in which he had what, seventeen points, he has been absolutely, downright awful in this series. It is despicable. He kept missing wide open shots last night including several threes that could have give the Thunder a lead. He finished with just eight points and had four turnovers. He is usually so good, but at this point, he has become a liability for head coach Scott Brooks. But what other choice does Brooks have? Harden has lost all confidence and is one of the top two or three reasons why the Thunder will lose this series. Let's face it folks, this series is over. While I would very much like to see the Thunder win game five and go back to OKC, that looks very doubtful at this point. How will the Thunder recover from this loss? They're going to have to, but with the Heat having a chance to close this series out at home and win an NBA championship, the Thunder will have to bring their A++ game to beat them. Game four is Thursday night in Miami 9:00 PM ET ABC.
2. Jerry Sandusky's wife takes the stand
The Jerry Sandusky case may be nearing to an end, but the defense is pulling out a few desperate moves to try to sway the jury. Yesterday they sent Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife to the stand. She recalled knowing most of the boys, but that her husband did not have inappropriate relations with her. It's really hard to be unbiased in this case, because of how disgusting and cruel it is so to an extent you have to give Mrs. Sandusky the benefit of the doubt. But almost everyone believes her husband did his terrible crimes and Dottie I believe is just trying to protect him. What these eight men went through as boys is very, very sad. The defense is even saying that suffers from some condition that makes him not know right from wrong and goes over the top. What a bunch of bull. This man is guilty. The defense most likely will rest their case in the next day or two and the jury will deliberate. I have a feeling it won't take long for them to render a verdict. The defense will be praying for a miracle. Don't expect that they'll get one.
3. Group play concludes in Euro Cup
Group D was the last group to finish group play in the Euro Cup and ther ewas much left to be decided. England, France and Ukraine all had an opportunity to advance. France was taking Sweden, winless in their first two games, but that didn't stop them from putting together a whale of a game beating France 2-0. That meant France would have to sweat it out a bit and wait to see if Franace would knock off the Ukraine. Fortunately for France, Wayne Rooney fresh off his two game suspension scored England's only goal of the game, good enough to give England a 1-0 win over co-host Ukraine. That means England and France advance out of group play and on to the quarterfinals. No games today. The quarterfinals begin Thursday with the Czech Repubic and Portugal.
4. San Francisco 49ers 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights
Last year was a magical year for the 49ers finally returning to be an NFL powerhouse and narrowly missing on getting to the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh did a fantastic job in his first year. The defense was great and Alex Smith looked very good. How will year two go? It's a lot more difficult schedule this year. Their full schedule can be found here. Now here are some interesting notes and facts on the 49ers upcoming schedule:
- The 49ers play the top four passing quarterbacks in the league this year (Aaron Rodgers week 1, Matthew Stafford week 2, Drew Brees week 12 and Tom Brady week 15. Oh yeah, they also have to face Eli Manning and Jay Cutler too. Talk about rough.
- The first three games of the season are against NFC North teams.
- The 49ers play back-to-back games against the AFC East twice (@ NY Jets week 4, vs. Buffalo week 5) (vs. Miami week 14, @ New England week 15)
- A rematch of the classic divisional game against New Orleans happens week 12 in New Orleans while a rematch with the Super Bowl champion NY Giants happens in week 6.
- The 49ers are ready for primetime this year with five nationaly televised games (week 2 vs. Detroit 8:20 PM ET NBC, week 7 vs. Seattle 8:20 PM ET NFL Network, week 8 @ Arizona 8:30 PM ET ESPN, week 11 vs. Chicago 8:30 PM ET ESPN and week 15 @ New England 8:20 PM ET NBC).
Thursday's team: Seattle Seahawks
A couple other quick notes to pass along. The Atlanta Braves beat the New York Yankees 4-3 last night to end the Yankees ten game win streak. The Yankees are playing really good basesball right now...And in Minnesota, Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin is not happy. He says things "definitely"need to happen though he didn't say what and he hinted at a training camp holdup. Most likely, it's his contract and the Vikings would be foolish not to take care of him. He does so much for their offense. Yes he needs to stay healthy, but he is so dynamic that if the Vikings lose him, their offense becomes very pedestrian. Get things done Minnesota.
Coming up tomorrow: Reaction to biggest stories in sports.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.