Weekend Review

Federer Takes Wimbledon

At the age of thirty, Roger Federer had taken a backseat to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but after a flurry of upsets and a masterful semifinal performance, the Swiss star found himself in the Wimbledon final yet again. Pitted against Britain’s own Andy Murray, Federer cruised to victory in four sets, notching his seventh Wimbledon and seventeenth Grand Slam victory while regaining his rank as number one in the world.

Rangers-Twins Thunderous Surprise 

In the top of the fourth inning, a close-hitting lightning strike and subsequent boom of thunder rattled Rangers ballpark, sending players of both teams scrambling for the dugout.  Said Rangers first baseman Michael Young, “That was the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard in my life.”

U.S. Men’s Basketball Team Announced

Over the weekend, the reigning gold medalist U.S. Men’s Basketball Team announced their 2012 roster. Injuries may have sidelined recent champs Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but Coach K’s squad gladly welcomes the additions of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and others to FIBA’s number one ranked team.

Dwight Howard Trade Rumors

Developments continue in the seemingly endless Dwight Howard saga. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Nets-Magic talks continue and are now covering 14 players, three teams and a possible fourth looking in to take MarShon Brooks. If the deal is completed, it may indeed grow to become the NBA’s all-time largest blockbuster.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of CS Monitor, Bleacher Report

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NBA Finals Preview

After defeating Boston and San Antonio’s veteran squads, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are set to showcase the league’s next generation of talent. Both teams sport star-studded lineups, and as “The Thunderdome” prepares for Game 1 on Tuesday, THE SPORTS DISPENCER brings you a preview of this year’s matchup.

Position by Position Breakdown

PG Russell Westbrook vs Mario Chalmers

At the point guard position, Oklahoma City is provided one of its largest advantages. Unlike Chalmers, Westbrook possesses an elite scoring ability. When attacking the basket, Westbrook uses his speed to penetrate defenses, creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. Advantage: Thunder

SG Thabo Sefolosha vs Dwyane Wade 

Sefolosha may be the team’s premier perimeter defender, but it will take all he has to contain Dwyane Wade. As the face of the Heat franchise, Wade has garnered eight All-Star nods and lead Miami to a title in 2006. He poses both the tangibles and intangibles necessary to wreak havoc this series. Advantage: Heat

SF Kevin Durant vs LeBron James

This series’ closest matchup takes place at small forward. Both Durant and James are two of the league’s brightest stars. Both possess the size, speed, and scoring ability necessary to take over games. With nearly identical regular season statistics, a slight edge goes to LeBron based on his ability to distribute the ball. Advantage: Heat

PF Serge Ibaka vs Chris Bosh

Both power forwards have provided intriguing storylines this postseason. In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Ibaka was on fire, shooting 11-11 from the field. Bosh, however, has been sidelined throughout most of this postseason with an abdominal injury. His starter status continues to remain up in the air, but even if Bosh returns to the lineup, he is bound to struggle against Ibaka’s unquestioned defensive prowess. Advantage: Thunder

C Kendrick Perkins vs Udonis Haslem

Center provides another clear-cut advantage to Oklahoma City. Haslem is better suited to play at power forward, but beyond him, the Heat have little talent signed to the roster. Perkins is not only younger, he is a better, scorer, defender, and most importantly — player. Advantage: Thunder

Sixth Man James Harden vs Shane Battier

Shane Battier may provide Miami with quality defense off the bench, but he is no match for Oklahoma City star James Harden. The 22-year-old rising talent averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for the Thunder en route to NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award honors. Advantage: Thunder

X-Factor

Oklahoma City possesses a fanbase as passionate as any in the NBA. Chesapeake Energy Arena creates a college-like atmosphere for the Thunder. The crowd’s intensity has helped will their hometown favorites to an NBA-best 8-0 home record this postseason, and as their success continues, their energy is on the rise. When the Heat come to town, it will not be any different.

Prediction

In this year’s contest, Oklahoma City matches up favorably across the board. Clear-cut advantages at point guard and center bode well for the Thunder. Their rotation of Harden, Durant, Sefolosha, and Ibaka have what it takes to run the floor with Miami’s Big Three, and Chesapeake Energy Arena ensures an electric atmosphere for Game 1 on Tuesday. Prediction: Oklahoma City wins in six behind Durant’s MVP performance.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of Tumblr, Business Insider, Yahoo Sports

Updated NBA Playoff Round 2 Predictions

San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Clippers (SA leads 2-0)

Coming off a physical seven-game first-round series against the Grizzlies, the Clippers ran up against the West’s best. In its first two games, San Antonio has cruised to victory. Combined, San Antonio has outscored the Clippers 213-180 while shooting an average of 51 percent from the field. The Clippers played well enough to scrape by Memphis but has yet to prove it can handle the surging Spurs. The series shifts to Los Angeles, but the result will remain the same. Prediction: Spurs win in four.

Boston Celtics vs the Philadelphia 76ers (BOS leads 2-1)

Behind a strong Game 2 performance, the Sixers stole home-field advantage and seemed primed to take control of series, but the Celtics refused to budge. Boston rolled to victory in Game 3 behind Kevin Garnett’s 27 points and 13 boards. Rondo contributed 23 points and 14 assists. The Celtics offense dominated in a 107-91 win. If the Sixers want to stay alive, it will need to step it up on the defensive side of the ball. Boston cannot continue to shoot 50 percent from the field if Philly wishes to contend. Expect the Sixers to adjust but Rondo’s presence too large to overcome. Prediction: Celtics win in six.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers (OKC leads 2-0)

After clobbering the Lakers by 29 in Game 1, the Thunder found itself trailing by seven at home with two minutes remaining in Game 2. The Lakers finally seemed to be turning things around, but looks can be deceiving. The Thunder began knocking down contested shots as the Lakers missed open jumpers. Then with 22 seconds remaining, Durant buried the game-winner to give OKC the lead. In the final seconds, LA squandered its final opportunity when Steve Blake missed a wide-open three in the corner. Returning to the Staples Center will boost the Lakers’ production but not enough to match the Thunder’s dynamic Durant-Westbrook tandem. Prediction: Thunder win in five.

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers (IND leads 2-1)

The Big Three proved ineffective in Game 3 as the Pacers throttled the Heat by 24. Chris Bosh remains out indefinitely with an abdominal injury, and Dwyane Wade had his career worst playoff game performance. Wade was 2-13 for 5 points. LeBron notched 22 but was overshadowed by Roy Hibbert’s dominant performance. The Pacers star scored 19 points and reeled in 18 rebounds while providing key play on defense. His five blocks and strong interior presence contributed to 37.2 percent shooting for the Heat. The Pacers may continue to shut down Wade, and Bosh is unexpected to return, but as LeBron proved in Cleveland, he can win on his own. Prediction: Heat win in seven.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of Seattle PI, LA Times

Instant Reaction: Lebron wins MVP

After winning MVP honors for a rare third time, Lebron James joins Michael Jordan and seven of pro basketball’s finest as the only three-time recipients of the award. The Heat star led the team with averages of 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

James ended the regular season with a PER of 30.8. He outranked Chris Paul, who finished second in the statistic and third in MVP voting, by a remarkable 3.71 points.

In addition to his undoubted level of efficiency, Lebron’s 1.9 steals per game average stands as a testament to his blossoming defensive prowess. Lebron has quickly developed into the greatest defensive weapon and strongest offensive asset on a team that has long looked to Dwyane Wade’s leadership to fill these roles.

The question remains, however, if Lebron’s regular season performance will transcend into postseason success. James is continuing the search for his first ring after he came up short last year in a six-game series with the Dallas Mavericks.

While the Heat made quick work of their first round matchup against the Knicks, the three-time MVP’s focus remains the same.

As he puts it, “I’d give all three of them back for an NBA championship. It’s all I care about. It’s all I know.”

* Photo Courtesy of ESPN