Sports Agenda for Monday (6/11/12)

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(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Miami Heat

Big Story:
It’s NBA Championship or bust for the Miami Heat now. They face a VERY TOUGH Oklahoma City Thunder team. Plus, tragedy strikes the Auburn University campus. And, watching the Marlins lately has been a tragedy too. All in the agenda!

Quote of the Day:
“Property as compared with humanity, as compared with the red blood in the American people, must take second place, not first place.” – Woodrow Wilson

Miami Heat: (Game 1 on Tuesday)
The Heat finally eliminated the Boston Celtics Saturday night and now the true test of the team is about to begin.
The Heat get two days off before having to play a well-rested Oklahoma City Thunder team in the NBA Finals.
Trust me, it’s the matchup everyone wanted, not the least of which NBA commissioner David Stern.
This should be a ratings juggernaut because of the superstars on each team and the overwhelming hatred of the Heat by fans outside of Miami.
This will truly be the Heat against the country when the Finals begin.
So what do the Heat need to do to get past the Thunder?
LeBron has to play just like he has been playing, but even more in the Finals.
LeBron needs to play like the greatest player in the world, which he is, in each and every game.
I think he knows this and I think, unlike last year, he will rise to the occasion.
He and Dwyane Wade need to attack the Thunder like an offensive line attacks a buffet.
Speaking of Wade, he needs to be truly ready to play in the this series.
I know his knees are bothering him, but the Heat need him at his best if they want to pull off the upset.
Wade tended to gamble some on defense against the Celtics and it gave up a lot of easy buckets to Boston. Oklahoma City can do the same thing even faster.
Chris Bosh has to play more minutes, likely starting.
If you watched Game 7, you finally saw what I’ve been saying all year long, the Heat will go as far as Bosh can take them.
Make no mistake, without him, they can’t beat Oklahoma City.
When he’s out there and 100 percent, he’s deadly from the midrange and behind the three point line.
What that does is pull the opposing team’s big man out from the lane because if they cheat off of Bosh, he’ll nail open shots all night long.
So when the big comes out to deal with Bosh, hello LeBron and D-Wade driving to the basket.
That’s the story for the Big Three, but it doesn’t end there.
Battier, Miller, Haslem, and Chalmers HAVE to hit open shots and even some contested shots.
As good as the Big Three are, they need help.
Last series, Battier, and sometime Chalmers, hit big shots to help propel the Heat.
They need at least one or two of the role players to go for double-digits each night.
Haslem has to play big on the boards as well.
I expect to see more Joel Anthony in this series, simply because of his athletic ability.
Finally, the real key for Miami is going to be defense, defense, defense, defense.
There’s an old sports axiom that says, “Offense puts butts in seats, but defense wins championships.”
If Miami can focus in on defense and slowly start to constrict around the Thunder, the Heat will win easily.
The Heat can do this and must do this to open their transition game up.
The Heat must keep their foot on the gas on defense every possession.
Because if they don’t and open the door for the Thunder…..
Oklahoma City will kick that door open and pound the Heat repeatedly in this series.
So what’s my pick?
The Heat are the definite underdog in this series, despite what they’ve gone through to get here.
Oklahoma City hasn’t played a defense this good in the Western Conference…no disrespect to San Antonio.
The Heat haven’t faced a team as athletic as the Thunder in the playoffs.
Defense wins championships, so I’m going to go with….
Miami in 6 games.

Miami Marlins: (vs. Boston Red Sox)
In the immortal words of Bobby Bowden, Dadgum!
The Marlins have gone from the hottest team in baseball to having a 2-8 record in June.
Talk about a precipitous fall to earth….jeez.
The worst part?
The Fish have lost six in a row at home.
Now the Marlins welcome in the Boston Red Sox and the draw tonight is Josh Beckett.
Ouch.
The Marlins will counter with their ace, Josh Johnson.
The Fish’s pitching and defense has been abysmal since the June started.
In the last six straight losses, the Marlins have given up 11, 2, 8, 5, 13, and 4 runs.
Guh.
If the Fish can’t get their pitching straightened out PDQ, it’s going to end up with another brutal month akin to April for the Fish.

Auburn University:
Sad news out of Auburn, Alabama this weekend.
Two former players were among five people shot outside an apartment complex.
The former players died and one current offensive lineman was shot but expected to recover.
The two other victims were said to alive, but one was fighting for his life.
It’s a tragedy that hit the school very hard over the weekend.
Needless to say, keep the school, team, and their families in your prayers.

Pacquiao-Bradley:
Finally today, if you didn’t hear about it, Manny Pacquiao was robbed of his championship over the weekend.
He lost a split decision that was arguably the worst boxing decision in recent memory.
Pacquiao hit 100 more power punches than his opponent did and as CBS4’s Jawan Strader told me, it wasn’t even that close.
Boxing has no true review process so the decision is final.
But as Teddy Atlas told ESPN, the decision was either rigged by payoffs or the judges were the most incompetent judges on the face of the earth.
Given boxing’s history, I’ll probably lean towards the former.

Follow me on Twitter @timkephart33

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