BOSTON, MA - JUNE 03: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts in the second half as Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks on in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Whose fault was it that the Heat didn't pull out a win against the Celtics on Sunday? Just about everyone's. That, Spurs-Thunder, Tiger's "back" (again) and more in this week's Monday Morning Jones.
Ready to talk about whether LeBron James should have taken the last shot in regulation? Too bad. We're gonna stick to things that actually mattered. On to the weekend...
Do we have to play the blame game? Miami trailed Boston by 14 at the end of the first half in Game 4. They roared back, holding the Celtics to 28 points in the second half with one possession left. That's when the Heat gave James and his five fouls the ball in isolation with seven seconds left, a strategy no one remembers working since Bron got to Miami. Then the Heat scored all of two points in overtime, but still had the last possession and a chance to tie or win...and then Dwyane Wade ignored a wide-open Mario Chalmers to miss a three after pump faking. No matter how one chooses to assign blame, there's so much to go around that doing so would be but so helpful. The most obvious culprit would be Miami's coach, Erik Spoelstra, but does he not get some credit for adjusting defensively to help his team bounce back? Everyone in black lost, from the stars to the suit.
See, there were reasons to doubt the Spurs. Nothing like a 20-game winning streak to make a team look unbeatable, and nothing like two straight losses to remind us why many were hesitant to pick the Spurs to win the West. They are not a great defensive team, and they don't have anyone you'd call a lockdown perimeter defender. They don't have a top-tier superstar one can expect to take over a game the way Kevin Durant did Saturday night. And while Gregg Popovich is an all-time great, so have been many coaches who lost in the playoffs because they didn't have firepower to match up with the opposition (see Tom Thibodeau last year against Miami). The Spurs' precision over the last two months made that easy to forget, but the shortcomings were on full display this weekend. This may be a series where the home team wins every game, but games 3 and 4 were a reality check for San Antonio.
Some would call this "planetary alignment." Kevin Durant closed out a fourth quarter in spectacular fashion. Scott Brooks made adjustments Popovich has yet to capably respond to. Kendrick Perkins scored 13 points in the first half of Game 4. Serge Ibaka nearly set a record for shooting perfection that same night. There was real-live ball movement. The Thunder, basically, did everything at home that they didn't do on the road. The question -- how many of those things are likely to happen again? Durant doing it again seems most probable, but even his greatness has been prone to lulls. But here's something else that won't happen again -- Russell Westbrook and James Harden combining for 18 points, as they did in Game 4. The Thunder's back in it. The fun will be seeing how they might manage to stay there.
Were it not for SEO, I wouldn't be writing about Tiger Woods, but... Remember when Tiger won the Arnold Palmer Invitational shortly before The Masters? With all the "Tiger's back!" talk? You remember that one. Well, did he leave before he got to Augusta? I ask because I keep hearing, again, that he's back, and I don't quite know how he'd do that twice. Great job at The Memorial. Way to go, tying Jack Nicklaus for second all-time in tournament wins. But long ago, we agreed that majors were what mattered. So let's talk again after the U.S. Open in two weeks, K?
Good news and bad news for the Kings. There are so many ways to look at the Kings' improbably impressive run to the Stanley Cup Finals. The 10 road wins, obviously, jump out. But the fact Los Angeles is 11-0 in Games 1-3 is ridiculous. They have won, literally, every game of consequence this postseason. The only thing is, they've only closed one series at Staples Center. Can they close out the Devils at home and close out a sweep? Will the prospect of hoisting the Cup in their own building break the Game 4 blues? Considering this series could have easily been 2-0 for the Devils thus far, it's safe to say the teams will play Game 5 in Newark Saturday night. Because everyone loves leaving Hollywood for New Jersey.
Would someone just come out and say what's really going on with Bountygate? This goes for the NFL, which seems to have provided Yahoo!'s Jason Cole with information of a bounty ledger...except the information didn't connect with what actually happened and had to be corrected. This also goes for Sean Pamphilon, whose suddenly become the most famous documentary filmmaker in sports history. I don't necessarily begrudge Pamphilon's willingness to share what he knows about the Sants, especially since there is evidence to back his claims. What can't be missed, however, is his heavy-handed, moralistic tone when discussing all these things. That started with Mike Silver's first story about the now-infamous Gregg Williams speech, continued the next day with the reaffirmation of his dedication to "truth" on the matter, and went right through to an impassioned plea Friday to Drew Brees to "[j]ust be truthful." Maybe Pamphilon is just a concerned observer who can't sit idly by. Or, maybe he's a concerned observer who can't sit idly by and is working on a documentary called "The United States of Football," which, while examining football as a cultural phenomenon, will give particular attention to the long-term physical damage the game inflicts. Sorry, but no one involved -- the league, Pamphilon, or any player -- deserves the benefit of the doubt. Time for everyone to put show all their cards, because nothing else is trustworthy at this point.
Once again, the SEC gets it right. To the surprise of no one, many SEC schools are too busy winning to worry about busting their athletes for smoking pot. The people whining about marijuana are kissing cousins to those, in this world full of disturbing and readily available pornography, who write letters to the editor of Sports Illustrated to complain about the swimsuit issue. I'm not condoning illegal behavior, but seeing Justin Blackmon -- fresh out of college, set to make millions -- get his second DUI (the first when he was 20, the latest with an ungodly .24 BAC) illustrates how stupid and misguided anyone is who thinks this is the pressing drug issue in college sports. So many times, the stories of arrests involving college athletes, from DUIs to assaults of all varieties, reek of booze. Drinking in college is romanticized, but it's problematic, and especially for athletes.
Student athletes are more often the heaviest drinkers in the overall student population. Half of college athletes (57 percent of men and 48 percent of women) are binge drinkers and experience a greater number of alcohol- related harms than other students. College athletes are also more likely than other students to say that getting drunk is an important reason for drinking. (Dying to Drink by Henry Wechsler, Ph.D.)
But people care about marijuana, which typically gets guys arrested for...possession? Personally, I don't have that kind of time. Apparently, neither does the Southeastern Conference.
I'm here to help, T.O. I'm not going to joke on Terrell Owens and his troubles, or get into the lawsuit he's threatening to file against the Allen Wranglers. I, myself, have been fired many, many times. That said, if getting handed a $50 severance check wasn't the clearest sign he'll ever receive that it's time to move beyond football, I don't know what it'll take. I can tell, based on his Twitter avatar, he needs to change his lifestyle. While impressive, that's the physique of a man who needs to spend less time with the weights and more with a highlighter and a newspaper. And, just because, should put a shirt on.
So this is what it's like to be a Mets fan? In the franchise's 50th season, Johan Santana threw its first no-hitter. Now, everyone's hoping that wasn't a bad thing. Santana missed all of last season after shoulder surgery, prompting manager Terry Collins to hope he gave up a hit so he could take him out of the game without causing a stir. Well, he got the no-hitter. Now, Santana will get extra rest, just in case his 134 pitches was a few too many. Only the Mets would wait so long for baseball history and be left, afterward, wondering whether that was a good thing or not.
Awww, they wouldn't let Weezy into the game? As if whining about that wasn't bad enough...
...the Lil' Fella got clowned by the Thunder Up faithful. That doesn't bode well for his beef with Pusha T. He may still have braids, but Skip Bayless' kinfolk aren't talking about, literally, stuffing him in a bag. No, not that bag. A string bag. Damn.