The first round of group play came to an end, and the second phase began. Some teams are sitting pretty, and some are in desperate trouble.
Chile 1, Honduras 0
A slight upset here. I had Honduras as a contender in Group H, but now they're in early trouble with Spain and Switzerland left to play.
Switzerland 1, Spain 0
Biggest upset of the tournament so far. The Swiss had NEVER beaten the Spanish in something like 15 meetings. Gelson Fernandes scored the game-winner. He doesn't look Swiss, his name doesn't sound Swiss. He was born in Cape Verde but moved to Switzerland when he was 5, so he's not one of those mercenaries that some international squads hire.
Uruguay 3, South Africa 0
The Vuvuzelas have made me hate South Africa, so I'm glad to see Uruguay crush them. Uruguay didn't even qualify for 3 of the last 4 World Cups, and they haven't advanced to the Round of 16 since 1990. They're on the verge of doing so in 2010.
Argentina 4, South Korea 1
Look out, Argentina has woken up. Gonzalo Higuan scored a hat-trick, but was greatly assisted by Lionel Messi. But Argentina's defense looks to be having trouble making decisions, and may ultimately be their undoing. But not quite yet.
Greece 2, Nigeria 1
Nigeria made mistakes, Greece capitalized.
Mexico 2, France 0
France fucking sucks. They still haven't scored a goal. And even down 2-0 in the 80th minute, they kept Thierry Henry on the bench. How's that strategy working out?
Mexico and Uruguay are in the driver's seat to advance to the Round of 16. And they play each other on June 22, both needing a draw to advance. So look for some defensive soccer in that game. But even if one team beats another, they can still advance if France and South Africa draw, or if their goal-differentials remain superior (Uruguay is +3, Mexico is +2, France is -2, South Africa is -3).
Friday, June 18, 2010
The Celtics had never lost a Game 7 to the Lakers, or in the NBA Finals until last night. But the series wasn't lost in Game 7 alone. It was lost in Games 1 and 6, when the Celtics put forth lackluster efforts, were inexcusably flat, and allowed the Lakers to walk all over them.
Let's get one thing straight: the Celtics didn't choke. The Lakers were the favored team in this series. And the fact that the C's advanced so deep into the playoffs is commendable. Despite the disappointing Games 1 and 6, the Celtics gave their maximum effort in Game 7. They simply didn't execute as well as the Lakers.
I'm going to rip Ray Allen for a bit. Defensively, he had an exemplary night. But offensively, he was a cancer. 3 for 14 from your biggest shooting threat is shameful. I know shooters can have off-nights, but he had 5 off-nights in this series. He was 33 for 90 (36.7%) from the field and 12 for 41 (29.3%) for three. Exclude Game 2's record-setting performance, and he was 22 for 70 (31.4%), and 4 for 30 (13.3%).
The Celtics couldn't find offense, and that's one of the big reasons they lost Game 7. And Ray Allen's offensive contribution was negligible. Certainly not worth $18.8 million.
The most glaring Celtic deficiency and Laker proficiency was rebounding, particularly LA's offensive rebounding. The Lakers hauled in 23 offensive boards. That's 23 times the Celtics could have triggered their breaking offense, 23 times that LA got an extra shot.
The Lakers didn't shoot well (32.5%), but were allowed to shoot often (81 field goal attempts).
The Celtics also put the Lakers to the line far too often. I've already heard grumblings from Celtics fans about the officiating, but it was a superbly refereed game. Very few mistakes. They let the players play. The Lakers actually struggled at the line, but they got there more often. 20 times more often.
The Celtics bench didn't do much, but neither did LA's. Then again, the C's bench was a matchup that favored the Celtics, so a draw serves as a win for LA.
The defense was excellent, especially the help-defense that clamped down on Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, he got help from his friends. Ron Artest had the game of his life with 20 points, Gasol had 19 along with his 18 rebounds, Fisher's 10 points all seemed to come at key moments. Bryant finished with 23, but only 12 of those came from the floor. The other 11 came at the line. He did have 15 rebounds.
Maybe the Celtics missed Perkins in the paint, and perhaps that contributed to the Lakers' getting so many offensive rebounds. Then again, Perk was averaging only 5.8 rebounds per game this series, 3.5 of which were defensive. His replacements, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, each had 9 and 8 rebounds, respectively. So excuse-mongers, look elsewhere.
The Lakers played better; in Game 7 and in the series as a whole. There's nothing to do right now but mourn and look ahead to 2010-11.