Monday, January 26, 2015

Miami Heat Poised to Sweep Knicks

The Miami Heat will try to close out their first round series against the New York Knicks, when the two Eastern Conference powerhouses meet on May 6. The Heat haven't lost a single game to the Knicks this year, and I don't think their Sunday encounter will be any different.

Simply put, the Heat have completely dominated the Knicks in the first three games of their series, shooting 48 percent from the field, while holding their rivals to a 39 percent field goal conversion rate. The Knicks' injury problems have certainly been a factor in the way things have gone down, and there's a pretty good chance they won't have the services of Amare Stoudemire for Game 4.

Miami fans couldn't be any happier with the "big three," as they have lived up to expectations, carrying their team to three consecutive victories. LeBron James continues to defy critics - who say he isn't able to perform in the fourth quarter, dropping 17 points in the final quarter of Game 3 to secure the Heat victory.

Guard Mario Chalmers has also been a bright spot for the Heat, averaging 14.3 points and 5 assists per game in their first three playoff games against the Knicks.

Obviously, the Knicks have no intentions to go down without a fight, and the Heat will have to bring their A-game for Game 4.

"We're just trying to come in, take each game as its own game at a time and not look at it like we're up 3-0," Dwyane Wade told reporters about the Heat's upcoming game. "This is the fourth game. We've got to come in and play this game. And you can't think about anything else. After that, if we take care of business and do our job, then we get some rest and get ready for the next series. But it's a big game and we've got to approach it that way."

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Associated Press, "Heat-Knicks Preview"

Seattle Sounders Extend Unbeaten Streak to Five Games

The Seattle Sounders FC won their fourth consecutive game on May 5, defeating the Philadelphia Union 1-0. With the win, the Sounders hold on to the third spot in the MLS Western Conference standings, trailing the first place San Jose Earthquakes by 3 points.

Sounders starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning - who is off to a solid season with 3 shutouts, wasn't able to suit up against the Union due to a hip injury, but Bryan Meredith stepped up in his place, securing a shutout in his first MLS start.

Meredith shouldn't take all the credit for his accomplishment though, as the Sounders' defenders were in form as usual, limiting the Union to only 6 shots (just one on goal). The 22 year old was gracious after the game, praising his teammates for their solid effort.

"It's more time to think about it and prepare, but again, I wasn't really too nervous," Meredith told reporters after the game. "It was a relatively easy game for me. The back four really didn't allow much through and I don't think I saw any shots on target. I think it was a good way to start my first game."

The Sounders on the other hand had no problems against Philadelphia's defense, keeping Zac MacMath pretty busy throughout the game.

Midfielder Mauro Rosales eventually put the Sounders on the scoreboard in the 63rd minute, finishing a Fredy Montero pass for his first goal of the season. Without a doubt, the Sounders' offense is a completely different animal when Rosales is on the field, and Seattle soccer fans can only hope he remains relatively injury free for the rest of the season.

"I've been working very hard to get my fitness and [get over the] pain that I had in my knee and my ankle," Rosales said after the game. "These last two games, I felt very good and we have to keep going like that. When we win a victory like that it helps us to get confidence from everybody. Today was ... a lot changing and we were very concentrated. This was the way to win the game."

The Sounders will now head over to Texas, where they'll face Dallas FC on May 9.

David has been a fan of the Seattle Sounders for the past 3 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Joshua Mayers, "Bryan Meredith: 'Unfortunately we smacked the crossbar…'"

Knicks Fight Back Against Miami Heat, Force Game 5

The New York Knicks fought back against the Miami Heat on May 6, defeating the defending Eastern Conference champions 89-87.

For a moment, it looked like the Heat would complete their first round sweep of the Knicks, but a poor third quarter got them in serious trouble. The Knicks cut down an 11 point lead in the third, setting the stage for a very entertaining fourth quarter. At the end of the day, the Knicks proved to be the better team, walking away with the two point victory.

"They made big plays down the stretch," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game. "They made big shots. We couldn't quite match or exceed that."

Miami's "big three" did their part in Game 4, finishing with a combined 66 points. Unfortunately for them, their role players struggled offensively, putting up a measly 21 points.

With the loss, the Heat won't get as much rest as they would have liked before the second round of the playoffs. They'll now head back to the American Airlines Arena, where they'll try to close out the series on May 9.

"We'd love to take the week [off] but it's not in the cards for us to do that in this round," Wade told reporters. "You know, we'll adjust. We play Wednesday in Miami at 7 o'clock. We'll be ready to play and give our fans another exciting game."

Big picture wise, Miami's loss against the Knicks really doesn't mean much, but Game 5 is certainly a must win situation. A second straight loss to New York will bring the Knicks right back into the series, with the opportunity to even things out at Madison Square Garden. After playing so well in the first three games, the Heat would be wise to avoid that scenario, and finish off the Knicks on Wednesday.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Associated Press, "Knicks top Heat to get first postseason win since 2001"
Jeff Zillgitt, "Heat blow their chance to sweep Knicks"

Seattle Sounders Brace for Shorthanded Dallas FC Squad

The Seattle Sounders FC will look for their fifth consecutive victory when they face Dallas FC on May 9. With a 6-1-1 record, the Sounders made history with their May 5 win against the Philadelphia Union, propelling the team to their best start in franchise history. They just might get to make some more history on Wednesday, considering the fact a win would tie their franchise high for consecutive wins.

Under normal circumstances, defeating Dallas in Texas is no easy task. But the Sounders will be facing a shorthanded Dallas squad. Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez both received red cards in Dallas' last match against the Colorado Rapids, which means they'll be forced to sit out the encounter against the Sounders.

The Sounders' defense has been the biggest contributing factor to their success this season, and Seattle soccer fans can expect more of the same on May 9. However, they'll be without the services of Leo Gonzalez, who got fined and suspended for a rough tackle against Union defender Sheanon Williams on May 5.

With midfielder Mauro Rosales back in the Sounders' lineup, their offense has played considerably better in their last three outings. Rosales scored the Sounders lone goal against the Union, making the most out of a Fredy Montero assist. He'll certainly create a lot of problems for Dallas' defense, and I expect him to lead the Sounders to another victory.

"I always want to play," Rosales said about his return to the Sounders' lineup. "I don't want to be out or in the bench or looking at the game from the [press box]. If can play, I will be there and ready for any game. We're going to see know in a few games how it goes."

Besides tying their franchise best record for the most consecutive victories, a win against Dallas will put the Sounders closer to the top spot on the Western Conference table, currently being shared by the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake.

David has been a fan of the Seattle Sounders for the past 3 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Joshua Mayers, "Bryan Meredith: "Unfortunately we smacked the crossbar and the..."