Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NBA Finals Game 1: Dallas at Miami, Tuesday, 6 p.m., Channel 7:
Based on the (clean-language) trailer used in commercials, the only funny exchange in the new Cameron Diaz movie, “Bad Teacher,” might be Jason Segel as a middle school gym coach, in a heated debate with a kid while standing at the punch bowl table at a school dance: “There is no way that LeBron will ever be Jordan. Call me when LeBron has six championships.” The kid responds: “That’s your only argument?!” Segel screams back, eyes bulging: “It’s the only argument I need, Shawn!” Pay attention, Scottie Pippen. Here’s your decision: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh may be “Hollywood as hell,” as Chicago’s Joakim Noah says, “but they’re a very good team.” And whether it’s predestined they combine their talents to get James the first of six (or more) NBA titles, maybe only Dirk Nowitzki can say (with Mark Cuban’s backing). Welcome to first NBA final since 1998 that has neither Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal nor Tim Duncan making an appearance, pitting two teams that have somehow both gone 12-3 so far in the postseason. Dallas won both regular-season meetings, and 14 in a row during the regular season against the Heat. But in between, the Heat won four of six in the 2006 NBA Finals against them. And before he signs off, we’ll check with TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who correctly predicted the Mavs’ win over the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals: “I think the Mavs have a really good chance and I think they’re going to win the series. Dirk Nowitzki is in the moment . . . Tyson Chandler, (DeShawn) Stevenson and (Brendan) Haywood . . . I like this Mavs team. The stuff that the Heat did against the Bulls won’t work (against the Mavericks).” Game 2 is in Miami (Thursday, 6 p.m., Channel 7), with Game 3 in Dallas (Sunday, 5 p.m., Channel 7)
MLB: Dodgers vs. Colorado, Dodger Stadium, 5 p.m., Prime:
Ubaldo Jimenez has followed up a Cy Young-like season in 2010 (19-8, 214 strike outs, 2.88 ERA, starting pitcher for the NL team in the All-Star game) with an 0-5 mark through nine games with a 5.86 ERA. (Yup, Cardinals second baseman Wilson Valdez has a better record than him, 1-0). The Rockies have also gone 1-9 in games he’s pitched. Unless something weird happens, he’s penciled in to pitch in the third game of this series (Wednesday, 7 p.m., Prime), a Don Mattingly bobblehead night, after tonight and Tuesday (7 p.m., Channel 9).
MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 1:10 p.m., FSW:
Unfortunately for the Angels, it’s a no-Vin situation. Royals relief pitcher Vin Mazzaro remains with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers less than two weeks after allowing 14 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings during a 19-1 loss to Cleveland. Mazzaro’s teammates include former Crespi High and 16-year major-leaguer Jeff Suppan (4-4, 5.43 ERA), trying to get back to the bigs, and former Chatsworth High third baseman Mike Moustakas (.260, 8 HRs, 37 RBI in 43 games), trying to get there for the first time. The Angels lost three of four to the Royals in the season series opener, including 12-9 in 13 innings in the finale when catcher Matt Treanor hit a game-winning homer and took a shaving cream pie to the face afterward. This series moves on to Tuesday (5:10 p.m., FSW) and Wednesday (1:10 p.m., FSW).
MLB: San Francisco at St. Louis, 4 p.m., ESPN:
The Cards are just 2-9 in games started by ’05 Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter (1-5, 4.58 ERA).
NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 1: Boston at Vancouver, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
The Canucks have taken the long way home, and kicked Supertramp out of Rogers Arena in the process. The rock band, celebrating its 40th anniversary with a tour of cities that have fans who may still remember them, has to give a little bit — it had booked the venue months ago for a gig, but the NHL decided this was the time and place to start the Stanley Cup finals. It’s logical. The Canucks, with eight days rest since eliminating San Jose in the Western Conference finals, return to the championship round for the first time since 1994 — they’re 0-for-40 years and running on an NHL title. They could be the first Canadian team to capture the cup since Montreal did it (against the Kings) in ’93. The Bruins, of course, haven’t won it all since ’72. Game 2 is Saturday at Vancouver (5 p.m., Channel 4).
MLS: Chivas vs. Vancouver, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
With the Whitecaps in L.A., maybe Supertramp would like to play at their Empire Stadium?
National Spelling Bee: 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Eighteen years later, ESPN is still televising this event in Washington, D.C., where 275 kids from age 8 (that would be Ethan Cullen Ruggeri from Fredricksburg, Va.) to 15 are allowed to sweat it out on live TV. Seventeen of them are three-year repeat visitors. The semifinals are Wednesday at 5 a.m. on ESPN3.com, where the website will also have a second “play along” version feed that allows the user the option to watch without graphics. More info: www.spellingbee.com.
Golf: PGA Memorial, first round, noon, Golf Channel:
Justin Rose rose to the top in last year’s event with a 66 in the final round at Jack Nicklaus’ annual event in Dublin, Ohio, making for a seven-shot swing over runner-up and third-round leader Rickie Fowler. Just two more weeks to go before the U.S. Open in Maryland. Golf Channel has the second round (Friday, noon), while CBS has the final two rounds (Saturday, noon; Sunday, 11:30 a.m.).
MLB: Angels vs. New York Yankees, 7 p.m, FSW:
Here come the drama queens on their West Coast swing — with Mariano Rivera, still the only active player wearing No. 42, having just recorded his 1,000th career appearance and still possibly the game’s best closer at age 41. The Angels could use someone half his age with half his talent. The series continues Saturday (6 p.m., FSW) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., Channel 13).
MLB: Dodgers at Cincinnati, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Dusty Baker’s star flame thrower, Aroldis Chapman, has been making Triple-A rehab assignments since going on the 15-day DL with a sore shoulder. He’s eligible to return for this series, which continues Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (10 a.m., Channel 9).
WNBA: Sparks vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 8 p.m., Prime:
The team sponsored by the insurance company returns for their 15th season, but this year, the lettering is bigger and bolder so potential customers can see it from a greater distance during the 34-game schedule. Hey, these girls aren’t farmers, they are Sparks. But there’s no way around the need for chest exposure provided by Candace Parker, Tina Thompson, Noelle Quinn, Ebony Hoffman and Courtney Paris. And, yes, Kobe’s dad, Joe, remains an assistant. This is also the pro debut for No. 1 overall WNBA pick and two-time Naismith winner Maya Moore with the Lynx, who then get to play her first game at home on Sunday against the Sparks as well (12:30 p.m., Prime).
MLS: Galaxy vs. D.C. United, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m, Fox Soccer Channel:
“Winners of 12 major domestic and international titles, D. C. United is the most successful team in Major League Soccer history,” it says right on their official website. So there.
Tennis: French Open women’s final, 6 a.m., Channel 4:
After No. 1 Carolina Wozniacki and No. 2 Kim Clijsters limped away before the first weekend, it marked the first time in the Open era that neither of the top two seeds have reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam. Any way Serena and Venus Williams could jump in here right about now? The semifinals are Friday at 2 a.m. on Tennis Channel
MLS: Chivas vs. Portland, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Lots of wood chopping will be heard.
Tennis: French Open men’s final, 6 a.m., Channel 4:
Through last Saturday, Rafael Nadal had a 41-1 record in this event and is closer to winning his sixth title (tying Bjorn Borg for the most ever). Second-seed Novak Djokovic, on his historic win streak, is bracketed to have to beat both Roger Federer and Nadal to keep the streak going.