Sports: How The Mighty Have Fallen!

The NBA Eastern Conference finals are set and there's one more game to decide the Western finals. But none of the teams are called Lakers, Celtics or Spurs! And in golf, Tiger Woods is limping away from another major tournament. Host Scott Simon talks to NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman about the NBA playoffs and Tiger Woods' latest stumbles.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

It's time for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

The mighty names are dropping and the NBA Eastern Conference finals are set. One more game to decide the Western finals. None of the teams are called Lakers, Celtics or Spurs. Our Tom Goldman joins us.

Morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Good morning, Scott. I want you to know this continues to be the highlight of my Saturday mornings at 40 minutes past the hour.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Well, it'll be over soon. Thanks for joining us.

Hey, Memphis, come Oklahoma City or high water, forced a game seven against Oklahoma City. Who's got the edge tomorrow?

GOLDMAN: Oh, I don't know. What do you think? I think Oklahoma City probably, because, you know, they're going to be playing it on their home court and everyone's going to be dressed in white - including the fans.

And I just think, you know, they're such an offensively explosive team. Memphis has done very well to keep this series alive. But I think in a game seven this is when a home court advantage really makes a difference.

SIMON: Yeah. And particularly that arena. Although, it'll be great if either of those teams got into the finals. But let me ask: Dallas, of course, has about a 45 day layoff after sweeping the Lakers, which brings up that old question. Does this give them time - and they're an older team, the Mavs, despite that name. Does it give them time to recuperate or just get rusty? And if you say time will tell I'm going to be very cross.

GOLDMAN: Oh, OK. Then go on to the next question. No. Yeah, they got lots of time. You know, they're just trying to stay busy. They're trying to scrimmage as much as they can. It does help an older team like this.

And they're going to need that, because whoever they face - Memphis or Oklahoma City - they're going to have to be very, you know, they're going to face a very speedy team, especially the point guard position. So a guy like Jason Kidd -that old man at 38 for the Dallas Mavericks - he's going to have to move his feet a lot.

The Mavs have been up to the task defensively so far in the playoffs. They've allowed a little over 88 points a game. That's the best among remaining teams. But they'll have a challenge.

SIMON: And of course, the Bulls and the Miami Heat - Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. You've got that James, Wade, Bosh triumvirate of billionaires. The Bulls have Derrick Rose and some good supporting names. Any chance?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, there's a chance. They've got the home court advantage. They've got a great defense. They have the league MVP, as you say, Derrick Rose. They beat the Heat three times during the regular season. And I think, you know, people always discount the regular season when the playoffs come.

The most important stat from those three wins, Scott, was that Chicago out-rebounded Miami by a total of 32 rebounds in three games. If Chicago can do that effectively versus the Heat, especially offensive rebounds, which would give the Bulls multiple chances to score, they don't have to worry about that question everyone's asking. After Derrick Rose who's Chicago's go-to guy offensively. They could have a chance that way.

SIMON: I think the Heat believe that if they don't get the rebound they'll just buy another ball.

(Soundbite of laughter)

We have a couple of very sad deaths to report this weekend. Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs died on Thursday. And on Friday - we awake to the news this morning New York Rangers left winger Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment. He was just 28.

GOLDMAN: Twenty-eight years old, you know, always shocking when an athlete who appears to be in good health dies suddenly like that. Derek Boogaard, known as the Boogie Man in the league - hes a left wing for the New York Rangers - best known as a fighter. Got a lot of penalty minutes during his career. But those who knew Derek said he was a very kind and caring guy. Despite his brawler reputation, he was very involved with military-related charities.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, and they'll be looking for the concussion information I'm sure.

GOLDMAN: Right. Because he sat out a bunch of games - 52 games of this last season - with a serious concussion.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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