By Dan Walk
1 The most competitive and at the same time lopsided NBA finals I can remember continued on its way Sunday with the Spurs winning by 10. Somehow, after their past two losses were by a combined 46 points, the Heat could be able to force an all-deciding Game 7 if they win tonight. In this back-and-forth, winner takes every game since Game 1 by double digits series, one thing has been consistent — the play of the Spurs’ Danny Green. Green has set the NBA finals record for 3-pointers made and is on pace to be the first finals MVP from the University of North Carolina since you-know-who.
2 A big thing that helped Miami win last year’s title against the Thunder was its role players. Shane Battier was huge beyond the arc and a clutch game by Mario Chalmers late in the series was a big difference-maker. Manu Ginobili, who struggled greatly during these finals’ first four games, provided a clutch 24 points and 10 assists Sunday. He’s hardly a “role player” per se since he started Sunday’s game, but after scoring just 30 points in the first four games, his Game 5 performance was the brilliance the Spurs have been waiting a while for.
3 One thing is for sure when it comes to these NBA finals — the Heat aren’t going to lose tonight’s Game 6. So why don’t we focus on Thursday’s Game 7? For as talented as each team is, it’s incredibly difficult for either squad to win two straight. The Heat will likely have that unenviable task in Game 7 — but they will be at home. I still feel Miami will pull things out in games 6 and 7. We talked last week about how Miami has an “on” switch. Well, it’s time for the Heat to use it — because there’s no time left but now.
4 The Brooklyn Nets made the wrong call by hiring Jason Kidd as their new head coach. Just a month ago, Kidd was playing in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the Knicks. He’ll quickly find out that it isn’t easy to make the transition from player to coach — at least not immediately. Kidd needs time to work as an assistant — especially considering there will be a ton of pressure on him in Brooklyn to turn that the Nets’ All-Star cast into a legitimate contender.
5 So what was more important than Saturday’s Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals according to NBC? An April episode of Chicago Fire and March episode of Law and Order SUV aired on NBC Saturday, while Game 2 was broadcast on NBC Sports Network — just like Game 1. Apparently, “Because it’s the Cup” isn’t a good enough reason to put every finals game on NBC, a channel everyone has.
6 Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has been an easy scapegoat for Pittsburgh’s playoff struggles over the last few years. The Pens have won just three playoff series in his four full seasons with the team after winning the Cup in 2009. But Pittsburgh brass must still believe in him, considering he received a two-year extension. It’s smart on the Penguins’ part — adding to his contract now helps the team avoid the controversy of people wondering if he’ll be fired in the final year of his contract next season.
7 The MLB’s Angels, Dodgers and Blue Jays have made many headlines with their big-name acquisitions over the past year. But what do they have to show for it? All three have losing records and two are in last place. The Angels are avoiding the AL West cellar only because the Astros are now in their division. These franchises need to learn that throwing a bunch of All-Stars into the lineup and rotation guarantees nothing. A cohesive team needs to be developed over time — and it’s not happening soon enough for those three overhyped teams.
8 As I was reading sports stories over the weekend, I noticed a college football recruiting trend that’s gone a bit too far. At least three eighth-graders and one seventh-grader — Kentucky has an offer on the table for 13-year-old DB Jairus Brents — have already received verbal offers from Division I schools. These kids haven’t even played a down as a high school freshman; yet, they’re garnering college attention. If I was a Class of 2014 recruit of Kentucky, for example, I would think twice about signing to play for a coach who’s more worried about the Class of 2018 than the present.
9 UFC fans have an exciting fall to look forward to when it comes to title fights. Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson; Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos III is once again for the heavyweight strap in October; and the highly-anticipated Georges St. Pierre vs. Johnny Hendricks welterweight title fight goes down in November. All three fights have legit contenders, and I’m saying one upset will occur.
10 Watching Jon Fitch get choked out in 41 seconds in his first post-UFC fight on Friday makes me think of all the former UFC contenders and champions who have fallen so far in the past few years. Not too long ago, Fitch was considered the second-best welterweight in the world to St. Pierre. On a 17-fight win streak and as a World Extreme Cagefighting champion, Miguel Torres was considered a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter. He’s gone 3-5 since then and has completely fallen off every fight fan’s radar. Tim Silvia and Andrei Arlovski are two other once highly-regarded UFC heavyweights who will never regain their championship status again. The fight game is just so fickle at times.
The preceding was The Walk Talk 10, which runs in the Tribune's sports section every Tuesday. Assistant news editor Dan Walk can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.