The Stack is on this Thursday, the first day of the NBA Finals. We'll have plenty to talk about with that. If you missed yesterday's blog, you can find it here. Let's not waste another moment. Here's what it's in "the stack" for today, Thursday, June 6:
NBA Finals Preview
And so it has come down to two teams. Two teams filled with stars. The veteran (that's putting it a nicely) San Antonio Spurs against the star-studded Miami Heat. Miami is back in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. They are 1-1 with LeBron James picking up his first NBA championship last year. So far this postseason, it has mainly been the "big one", James, rather than the "big three" with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Yes Wade had a big game 7 in the eastern conference finals against Indiana, but his play this postseason for the most part has been bad. Most of that people can argue is a result of Wade not at 100 percent. Bosh has no excuses. He has under-performed in the postseason, especially last series. The MVP in the eastern conference series was Chris Anderson, AKA "Birdman." He was an instigator. He made big shots, grabbed key rebounds and come up with some outstanding blocks. Of course James was great, but it was Anderson who really provided a spark for the Heat. They will need him to play like that in the NBA Finals. Just don't look for the Spurs to oblige by Anderson's physical play. They won't let him get to them at all.
The Spurs are in their fifth NBA Final series, and all appearances have come in the Gregg Poppovoich-Tim Duncan era. They've won all four previous finals. This year would seem different given the team's aging roster, but the Spurs just continue to do what they do. They're led by one of the best bigmen ever to play the game in Duncan and have savvy veterans in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. It would be nice if Ginobli could find his game again, because he hasn't played great so far this postseason. That's not getting nearly as much attention as Bosh's performance, but that's what happens when you join forces with two other superstars. The microscope is on you at all times. Ten days off for the Spurs in between their sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies and the start of the NBA Finals has given them time to rest, something a veteran team needs, but also time to scheme. It would not be surprising if the Spurs do a few things to try and catch the Heat off guard. Do things the Heat haven't seen before.
In the end, this should be a very interesting and good NBA Finals. While it would not shock anyone if the Spurs win, they need to win either game one or game two to have that chance. I'm not sure if that is going to happen. The Heat will win the NBA Finals in six games, making them back-to-back champs. What changes may happen in the offseason and how the eastern conference landscape changes remains to be seen, but for now, the Heat will remain the toast of the NBA with their third NBA championship.
Bruins send Penguins to the brink in double OT thriller
Remember that scene in "The Santa Clause" when Tim Allen looks in the mirror after his beard grows to look like Santa Claus seconds after he is done shaving and says, "I'm in big trouble, mmm-hmm." Well that is what the Pittsburgh Penguins must be feeling like following their 2-1 double overtime loss to the Boston Bruins that puts the Penguins in a 3-0 series deficit and an almost certain end to their season. What a thrilling game this was. Boston struck first and early once again, grabbing a 1-0 lead a minute-and-a-half into the game on their first shot. Thought it would be a long night for the Penguins and Tomas Vokoun who was back in net after being pulled in game two. Pittsburgh struck in the second period to tie the game 1-1. In the third, there were multiple pipes hit on both sides which sent the game into overtime. Both teams had some great scoring chances in overtime, but the pipes held up as did the goalies who made some spectacular saves. And then in the second overtime, just when it looked like the Penguins might have a chance at going down the ice and getting a shot on net, former Penguin Jaromir Jagr took the puck away on a backcheck and started it up the other way where Pierre Bergeron got it by Vokoun to send the tired but excited crowd home just after midnight with a 2-1 win. What a game.
Sidney Crosby's disappearance in this series is a little surprising. Alright, very surprising. He's not himself out there. He played his best when he didn't have a helmet on in the second overtime period. He looks passive, unwilling to shoot the puck on net. Is it psychological? Possibly. Maybe Crosby is hurting. That certainly could be the case. Whatever the reason is, Crosby's performance is big part of why the Penguins are in the hole they are. It's going to take a lot of digging to get out. It's not going to happen.
Tonight in the western conference finals...
Chicago Blackhawks @ Los Angeles Kings 9 PM ET NBCSN (Blackhawks lead series 2-1)
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has been suspended for this game for his high stick to the face of a Kings player in game three. He's lucky he was able to keep playing in game three and lucky he wasn't suspended for more than just game four. With him out, look for the Kings to even the series back up 2-2.