Archive for June 6th, 2011
The Miami Heat took a very decisive win against the Dallas Mavericks to get a bit closer into clenching their second NBA title. Interestingly enough, back in 1996, when the Miami Heat clinched their first title, again it was a hot duel between Dirk Nowitzki and Dwayne Wade. This time around, the 7-foot-tall German has gained much more experience but Dwayne Wade has gained one heck of a team. The power trio that he formed with Chris Bosh and LeBron James might have proved to be so effective that on their first attempt together, they are fairly close to securing the first of many (or at least that’s what they promised their fans last summer) NBA titles.
This has been a very important win for Miami. Not only where they playing in the road, but Recent history says that the Game 3 winner in a tied finals has won the championship all 11 times since the 2-3-2 format began in 1985. Now the Heat has build the momentum, has build the confidence the team needs to repeat the recipe that gave them the title back in 2006. Game 4 will be played on Tuesday night and LeBron James and Wade have a great chance to do what the Heat did in 2006: win the National Championship on Dallas’ floor. It’s not an easy task. The Mavericks know very well what is at stake and they are going to give it their best shot to leave the ghost of the 2006 final behind them. Miami will need to win game 4 and the next, on Thursday night, to secure the Championship, but I’ve got a feeling its going to end in Miami.
It’s not that I’m not aware of how dominant the Heat has been in the playoffs. It’s just that I’m well aware of the great games and numbers that the Mavericks have been banking this postseason. Many believed that by the next game, the Heat would already be celebrating their championship. But the Heat blew a 15-point lead in the last quarter of Game 2, and nearly did it again on game three, coughing up a 14-point lead. Truth be said, it was just a bid of bad luck for the great Dirk Nowitzki. He had the space and the precise timing to take a shot when there was only 4 seconds left on the clock. It was his classic fade-away jumper that is virtually impossible to block. It was also the shot that he had made over and over this postseason. But he missed that 2-pointer that would have tied the game and taken this game into overtime.
Things are going good for the Heat, but things could get ugly for them if the Mavericks figure out how to get the supporting cast pitching in like they did against the Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s consider for instance one player who had been a dominant force this playoffs. Jose Juan Barea, an effective penetrator against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals, is seven points off his scoring average of the past two series. Barea’s numbers are just an example of how the Mavericks need to improve their game if they really want to win this title. The Puerto Rican is shooting 21.7 percent from the floor and 12.5 percent from the 3-point range. Truth is, Dirk Nowitzki is going to need much more help from his teammates if they want that Championship Ring.
At the end of it all, even when the Spaniard is not having his best run, even when he is on the verge of losing his top spot in the ATP rankings, even when a Serb is stealing his thunder; even when he is facing the most successful player in the sports history, Rafael Nadal is going to be ok, for he will always have Paris. Excuse the Casablanca allusion, but its hard not to get excited with what just happened today at Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have played 5 times in the French Open. Four different times have these two player meet in the tournament Final. All of these matches have gone to Rafael Nadal. Federer, who many believe is the best tennist player the world has known, has no answer for Nadal when it comes to the clay courts of the French Open. Let’s not forget that the only year that Federer won at Paris, Rafa Nadal was seriously injured and not in the game.
Nadal is still the King of Clay. Yes, he lost two of the previous clay tournaments to one Novak Djokovic. But he didn’t have to deal with the Djoker on the final. Roger Federer was kind enough to get Djokovic in the semifinals so that when Nadal arrived into the Championship match, it was the Federer Express waiting for him. And as it is usually the case in Paris, Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer by 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-1 on Sunday.
Considering that the top ranked Nadal improved his record at Roland Garros to 45-1, and to 17-8 against Federer, one can’t help but to wonder if the slightly cocky Spaniard is writing off his own history in the shadows of Roger Federer. Let’s not forget that in Grand Slam finals, Nadal is 6-2 against the Swiss Maestro. And now, after this win, Nadal has reached double figures in Grand Slams and at 25 years old, the Federer’s 5-year junior is only 6 Grand Slams behind his record breaking 16 tournaments.
Coming into the tournament, Nadal had lost four straight finals to Djokovic. Now we can’t help but to wonder what it would have been like if Novak Djokovic had survived Federer in the semifinals. Because one thing is clear: Federer is the best player as of press time, but Nadal knows exactly what it takes and most importantly, how to deliver it, when playing against Roger Federer. But I can’t help but to wonder if Rafael Nadal knew what it took to beat Novak Djokovic or how to deliver it. And I have the slight impression that had Federer not given Nadal that choice, this article would be about how Novak Djokovic was still holding on to a perfect season and how he had just managed to win his second consecutive Grand Slam.
Here are a couple of pointers we should reconsider. Although Nadal has been almost unbeatable on clay — winning 11-of-13 — he has evolved dramatically on Federer’s favorite surface, the grass at the All England Club. Just as Nadal is the king of clay, there is little argument that Federer rules on the grass fields of Wimbledon. Federer has won six titles in the British Open. But this is where things change. Nadal has managed to improve his game considerably at Wimbledon. After losing the finals to Federer in 2006 and 2007, Nadal took the 2008 final. Likewise, Rafa won his first Australian Open championship in 2009 and his first at the U.S. Open a year ago. If Rafa manages to stay healthy and in the top of his game for another 4-5 years, there is a really good chance that he is going to break all the previous records and get out of Federer’s shadow for good.