June 3, 2011
The Miami Heat delivered a devastating blow to the Chicago Bulls last week when they won Game 5 by just three points, effectively eliminating the Bulls from playoff contention. The Bulls had shown promise in Game 1, beating the Heat 103-82 and giving fans hope it would not be a one-sided series. Unfortunately, Chicago was never able to harness the domination they showed in the first game, losing four in a row to the Heat. The loss came shortly after another bittersweet ending, as just days before Oprah said farewell to her 25-year old syndicated talk show in the exact same arena.
The Heat are now facing the Mavericks, who swept the Lakers and beat the Thunder to make it to the championship. It’s been five years since the two teams faced off in the Finals with Miami walking away with its first and only championship title. The Mavericks are no doubt out for revenge, as they let the Heat became just the third team in history to win the title after losing the first two games in the NBA Finals.
The Mavs have been dominant against the Heat this season, but their only post-season match-up — the ’06 Finals — is the one that weighs on players’ minds. While the Heat boasts basketball superstars such as Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, Dallas isn’t without its own stars. Power forward and NBA all-star Dirk Nowitzki has played for the team since 1998 and hopes to take care of some unfinished business. Despite his determination, he knows the road to the title won’t be easy: “We are facing a very tough team, a very good team with a bunch of closers and leaders. And so we’ve got to just go from there and bring our best game,” the all star told reporters.
The best-of-seven series started Tuesday, with the game started out close — the Mavericks scoring just one less point than the Heat through the half. In the third quarter the Heat started pulling away, scoring 22 points to the Mavericks’ 17. Dallas made a strong showing in the 4th, scoring 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to catch up to Miami, who added 27 points in the final quarter and won 92-84. By next Monday, the Heat could be on the brink of their second championship – or Dallas could have turned the tables on the heavy favorite. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: NBA Finals June 3, 2011
On a night when the Heat were primed to easily annihilate the Mavericks in game 2 of the Finals, the Mavericks overcame a 15-point deficit to win the game in the final 26 seconds. Dirk Nowitzki stunned fans by dropping a 3-pointer and final 2-pointer. With less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Mavericks made a final long shot that came up short and closed out the Heat. Bragging rights and a possible sweep by the Heat is now off the table. We now have a match. Stay tuned.
In the past week, Philadelphia transplant Jayson Werth has been very vocal about his disappointment in his new team. Back in December, Werth stunned the baseball world when he announced he would be signing with the Nats — a young, struggling ball club — for $126 million over 7 years. Back then, Werth expressed his desire to play ball into his 40s, something this contract obviously offered. Werth was seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was moving from the best team in the NL East Division to the worst. Almost half-way into the season, Werth appears to have finally realized that he chose money over baseball. Fan or not, you had to be living under a rock not to realize the Nats aren’t winning the World Series anytime soon; they had trouble finishing the season at .500.
They let their best slugger, first basemen Adam Dunn, sign with the White Sox, and lost their star pitcher Stephen Strasburg for an entire season. Werth must have been aware of all these things when he signed with the Nats, but he did so anyway. It doesn’t help that franchise star Ryan Zimmerman is out of the lineup due to injuries, and the team has a combined batting average below .300. Though Werth believes “things need to change” and the team needs to “start winning games”, the outspoken outfielder is hitting a mere .255 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. If Werth wants change, he can start with some extra batting practice. After losing three in a row over the weekend, including two to the struggling Padres, the Nats have fallen to 22-31; that’s 11 ½ games behind the division leading Phillies.