Weekend Review

After a thrilling weekend in the world of sports, fans are beginning to recover from two days of constant remote flipping. Carpal tunnel aside, THE SPORTS DISPENCER is here to take a look at what we learned from this weekend’s action.

Flawed Finals Format

For a reason unbeknownst to many, the playoff game format switches once the NBA Finals are reached, varying from a 2-2-1-1-1 to a 2-3-2 setup. Instead of benefiting play, it detracts from it. Take this year for example. The Miami Heat split Oklahoma City’s first homestand one game a piece. With three straight road games, the Thunder faced the daunting task of winning in South Beach to keep the series alive. If David Stern opted for the prefered 2-2-1-1-1 format, Oklahoma City is gifted the home court advantage they rightfully earned, and Miami would be forced to win the series in front of Chesapeake Energy Arena’s raucous crowd.

The U.S. Open Returns to Form

After the world’s best lit up the scorecards in 2011 at Congressional, the 2012 U.S. Open returned to its previous gut-wrenching form. After four days of intense competition, Olympic Club gave us a winner. Webb Simpson emerged from a crowded field to take the tournament with a four-round score of one stroke over par.

Euro’s Team to Beat

Behind a consistently explosive offensive attack, Germany has emerged victorious from Euro 2012’s Group of Death. The Germans held steady, winning three of three. Gomez and Podolski anchored the front line with midfield support from world-class players Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Expect the heavily favored German squad to cruise to victory in their quarterfinal matchup against Greece.

Junior Ends the Drought

After a 143-race losing streak, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. found victory lane in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The 37-year-old driver finds himself second in the Sprint Cup Standings and a likely contender to earn his first ever Sprint Cup title.

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

* Photos Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, ESPN

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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

Who is to Blame for the Spurs’ Collapse?

After blowing an 18-point lead, San Antonio suffered a heart-breaking Game 6 loss to Oklahoma City. The Thunder outgunned the Spurs late, but one future hall of famer pointed blame in a different direction.

“I thought our effort was there, our execution was there, they just made shots for a stretch there and really got back into it,” Tim Duncan told reporters. “Down the stretch, for a period there, it seemed like they got every whistle possible. That really changed the tides.”

The loss proves a disappointing one to Duncan in what may be his final season. While questioning officiating, he did, however, give credit to the resilient Thunder.

“We were playing tough defense, we were trying to make stops and push it back, and the whistle kept blowing. They kept going to the line and getting free points there. That’s them being aggressive, that’s them continuing to attack, and credit to them.”

Oklahoma City did benefit from 16 second half free throws, but the question remains: Who is to blame for the Spurs’ Game 6 collapse?

The game was a game of halves. After an explosive 63-point first-half performance, the Spurs cooled off in the second to pave way to the charging Thunder, who outscored San Antonio by 23 in the half.

The final result was less to blame on officiating and more to blame on the Spurs’ biggest enemy — age. As the game wore on, San Antonio was exploited by the youthfulness of Oklahoma City’s Big Three. Durant, Harden, and Westbrook combined for 75 points, 25 rebounds, and 15 assists to turn the table on San Antonio and bring their youthful potency to the NBA Finals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

* Photos Courtesy of Bleacher Report, ESPN, USA Today