On this day in sport: Pistons stun Lakers for NBA glory, Jack Nicklaus makes history

By Sports Desk June 15, 2020

June 15 is a momentous sporting date that the Detroit Pistons and their fans will not forget in a hurry.

Sixteen years ago on this day, the team earned an emphatic 4-1 win over favourites the Los Angeles Lakers to seal glory in the NBA Finals.

This date also represents the 40-year anniversary of a famous day in golfing history, when Jack Nicklaus broke a record at the U.S. Open.

We look back at some of the top moments to occur on June 15 in the world of sport.


2004 - Pistons top Lakers 4-1 in NBA Finals

The Pistons sealed a stunning 4-1 series win over the Lakers on this day in 2004, with a 100-87 win in Game 5 ensuring they secured glory in Michigan.

Richard Hamilton top-scored with 21 points, Ben Wallace starred with 22 rebounds and Chauncey Billups had a game-high six assists.

Billups was named Finals MVP as coach Larry Brown savoured his first championship, his underdog team having won three straight after going down to an overtime loss in Game 2.

Game 5 was notable as the last game for Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton for the Lakers, who had won previously three straight titles between 2000 and 2002.

This remains the Pistons' most recent NBA title, as they lost a thrilling Finals series 4-3 to the San Antonio Spurs the following year and have not returned since.

The Lakers, meanwhile, reached three straight Finals when coach Phil Jackson returned to the team later in the decade, winning two, including their last triumph in 2010.

Kobe Bryant top-scored with 24 points in a losing effort against the Pistons in Game 5.

He would go on to be named NBA Finals MVP in each of their 2009 and 2010 successes, moving on to five rings in the process.


1980 – Nicklaus sets record in U.S. Open triumph

Jack Nicklaus' fourth and final U.S. Open victory was a special one in 1980.

The American set a new tournament scoring record with an eight-under par score of 272 to win his fourth title at the event, finishing two shots clear of Japanese challenger Isao Aoki.

Nicklaus had started the week with a magnificent 63 to take a share of the first-round lead, and led by two after a more steady effort of 71 on day two.

After moving day, he was in a share of the lead with Aoki while four other players, including Tom Watson, were within two shots.

A thrilling finale was in store for June 15 and Nicklaus delivered with a 68 to claim his 16th major, 18 years after winning his first U.S. Open.

He romped to US PGA glory later that year, before his 18th and final major arrived six years later at the 1986 Masters.
 

1974 - Evert wins first of seven French Opens

American Chris Evert holds the women's singles record with an astonishing seven French Open titles.

She won the first of her Paris crowns on this day in 1974, emphatically defeating the third seed, Russian Olga Morozova, 6-1 6-2.

In the absence of Margaret Court, who had beaten her in a three-set thriller in the previous year's final, top seed Evert thrived.

She went through the whole tournament without losing a set, with German Helga Masthoff, the fourth seed, seen off in the semi-finals in a tougher test than she ended up having in the showpiece.

Evert also won Wimbledon that year as part of a sensational 55-match winning streak.

She successfully defended her French Open title the following year, and her third success in 1979 started a streak of five wins in the space of five years.

Related items

  • NFL Draft: Zach Wilson is the perfect fit for the New York Jets NFL Draft: Zach Wilson is the perfect fit for the New York Jets

    The New York Jets didn't get the chance to draft Baker Mayfield. Three years later, they may not be passing up on taking a reasonable facsimile.

    There's seemingly little drama at the very summit of this year's NFL Draft, where Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been seen as a foregone conclusion to land in Jacksonville from the day the Jaguars clinched the No. 1 overall pick in December. And if a growing amount of media speculation can be taken as fact, the Jets appear locked in to making BYU's Zach Wilson their latest attempt at finding a franchise signal-caller when they pick at No. 2.

    So, why has Wilson, a fringe prospect leading into his stellar junior season with the Cougars, presumably vaulted to near the top of a quarterback-heavy class that also features three other likely first-round choices in Ohio State's Justin Fields, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Alabama's Mac Jones?

    Joe Burrow had a similar rise just a year ago, going from a projected late-round prospect to the top overall pick on the strength of a record-setting final season at LSU. And when using Stats Perform's advanced metric data, Wilson's 2020 campaign compares quite favourably with the final collegiate seasons of the last three No. 1 overall selections – Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Burrow.

    Wilson v former No. 1 overall picks

    Wilson's final year with the Cougars has the edge over the farewell college seasons of that trio in two key areas, completion percentage on third down and on throws of at least 20 air yards. He completed 79.7 per cent of his third-down throws (first in the FBS among QBs with a minimum of 40 attempts) and connected on 63.3 per cent of throws of 20 air yards or more, which also led FBS quarterbacks with at least 30 attempts.

    Neither Mayfield (62.0), Murray (65.0) or Burrow (65.6) come close to Wilson in third-down percentage. It is the same story when pushing the ball over 20 yards through the air. Mayfield's completion percentage on such pass attempts (53.3) ranked first in the FBS in 2017 while Burrow (58) was second in 2019 but they and Murray (10th in 2018 with 49.3) were again well adrift of Wilson.

    When blitzed, Wilson's completion percentage of 67.9 trailed only Burrow in 2019 (69.6), though on play-action throws (73.4 per cent) he was inferior to both Mayfield (73.6) and Burrow (75.2). That duo also had the edge in the red zone. Mayfield led FBS quarterbacks with at least 25 attempts in 2017 with a 70.7 completion percentage, with Wilson's mark of 66.7 below that and Burrow's effort in 2019 (72.2).

    Yet in essence, Wilson's performance on deep throws, in play-action situations and within the red zone was a near carbon-copy to those of Mayfield and Burrow. Mayfield has been a popular comp to the Utah native, and for good reason as they're similarly sized and play with an evident abundance of bravado and swagger. That gunslinger mentality often worked against Mayfield in his second NFL season, when his 21 interceptions were the second highest in the league in 2019, but a more judicious approach in 2020 led to a much higher rate of efficiency and more importantly, greater team success as the Cleveland Browns nearly doubled their win total from six to 11.

    Wilson's numbers, in fact, trump those of Lawrence, who finished no higher than 19th among qualified FBS quarterbacks in those categories.

    Now, that still doesn't necessarily mean that Wilson should be viewed as the superior prospect. Lawrence, much like the three quarterbacks mentioned above, faced an overall higher level of competition than his draft counterpart, who did not go up against a single Power 5 team during BYU's breakout 2020 season.

    Wilson did face four major conference teams as a sophomore in 2019, and while his overall stats in those games (997 passing yards, 62.8 completion percentage, three touchdowns, three interceptions) were not overwhelming, he did lead the Cougars to wins at Tennessee and against Southern California with turnover-free efforts in each. While the sample size is still small, it's enough to suggest he can succeed against quality opponents at the next level if he plays within himself.

    Why Wilson fits the Jets like a glove

    Perhaps Wilson's most endearing trait to quarterback-needy teams, and arguably the main reason why he seems destined to be off the board within the top three picks, is his prowess on play-action passes. That is a staple of the Kyle Shanahan offense run by the San Francisco 49ers, who own the No. 3 pick and have gone on record stating they intend to take a quarterback.

    The Jets, meanwhile, have spent the offseason attempting to morph into 49ers East by hiring San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Salah as their new head coach and tabbing Shanahan disciple Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator. And with Sam Darnold having been shown the door following three seasons of largely unmet expectations, it's clear the next order of business is finding a young field general well-suited to run LaFleur's scheme.

    It's also clear that this is a decision the Jets can't get wrong this time around. Wilson may not have the highest ceiling of the group behind Lawrence – that belongs to the uber-athletic but somewhat unpolished Lance – but he'd be the safest bet. He's the best play-action quarterback in this class and probably the most seamless fit for either the Jets or 49ers, having operated in an offense at BYU that utilised a heavy dose of outside-zone running that's common to the Shanahan system. Wilson can also reasonably be viewed as a better prospect than Burrow, as his arm strength is superior to last year's top choice.

    Detractors can fairly point out, however, that Burrow may not have been the best quarterback of the 2020 class – Justin Herbert certainly had the best rookie season. The same can be said for Mayfield, who was drafted No. 1 in the same year as an eventual NFL MVP (Lamar Jackson) and a runner-up for last season's award (Josh Allen).

    Still, Mayfield has a playoff win on his resume and an above .500 record as a starter for a franchise that went 0-16 before his arrival. If the Jets can get the same from Wilson through his first three years, it will be a worthwhile decision.

  • NBA Big Game Focus: Giannis out to boss Embiid and the Sixers again NBA Big Game Focus: Giannis out to boss Embiid and the Sixers again

    The Milwaukee Bucks have been the regular season pacesetters in the NBA's Eastern Conference in recent seasons, but they sit third heading into the closing stages of the 2020-21 campaign.

    It is the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets who instead lead the way, tied with 39-20 records - 2.5 games clear of Milwaukee.

    Yet the Sixers had first place outright prior to Thursday's game against the Bucks in which they failed to recover from a tough first quarter.

    Philly do not have to wait long for revenge, though, with the two teams meeting once more at Fiserv Forum on Saturday.

    MVP challenges are on the line as well as seedings in the East as two potential title contenders get prepared to go again.

    TOP PERFORMERS

    Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers

    Embiid was the MVP favourite until a knee injury at the start of March that forced him to miss almost a month of action.

    He was averaging 29.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and the 76ers had a 24-7 record with him on the floor. They were 2-5 in the seven games Embiid missed prior to his extended lay-off.

    The center returned earlier this month, seemingly with enough time to wrestle the top individual award back from Nikola Jokic, and he has since averaged 30.1 points, missing only a single game.

    But the Sixers have now lost three in a row and Embiid's hopes appear to be fading after he was outshone by the reigning MVP.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks

    It does not appear there will be a third MVP win in a row for Antetokounmpo after his momentum was checked by sitting six straight games.

    But the 'Greek Freak' was back to his best against the 76ers, scoring a game-high 27 points, and can focus instead on a first title triumph in the postseason.

    And Antetokounmpo feels playing a fellow challenger again on Saturday "prepares you for the playoffs".

    "Playing teams back to back is awesome," he said.

    "On Saturday, they're going to come out and they're going to play harder, they're going to try to execute. We've got to do the same. We've got to do exactly the same."

    KEY BATTLE - SLOW START CAN SINK SIXERS

    For the 76ers, "playing harder" will have to start from the tip-off. Their 14-point first-quarter deficit proved too significant against such a talented team.

    As the Sixers missed one of the best defensive players in the league in Ben Simmons due to illness, Milwaukee firmly had the upper hand early on.

    Philadelphia had no answer as they allowed 40 points, their second-worst mark in a first quarter this year. This came as the Bucks shot at 73.7 per cent from the field through 12 minutes, the best rate among the Sixers' 2020-21 opponents.

    Jrue Holiday, a star on both ends, had seven of his 12 points in the first three minutes alone.

    "That first quarter, they get every shot they wanted," Doc Rivers said. "We didn't offer any resistance."

    HEAD TO HEAD

    Thursday's game was the teams' second this season and the second Milwaukee victory after they won in overtime in March, again led by Antetokounmpo (32 points, 15 rebounds).

    Antetokounmpo has averaged 20.8 points for his career but 22.6 against the 76ers, against whom he boasts a 19-5 record and posted a career-high 52 in 2019.

    The Bucks have a 113-102 lead over Philadelphia all-time in the regular season.

  • Giannis after win over 76ers: You could see that everyone was locked in Giannis after win over 76ers: You could see that everyone was locked in

    Giannis Antetokounmpo felt the Milwaukee Bucks were "locked in" from the start after recording a fourth successive win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

    The Bucks scored 77 points in the first half before holding off a 76ers fightback to triumph 124-117 in a battle between two of the leading contenders in the Eastern Conference.

    Antetokounmpo led the way with 27 points, though the two-time NBA MVP had plenty of help from his colleagues. Khris Middleton had 24 points while Bobby Portis contributed 23 off the bench.

    Milwaukee landed 20 of their 40 three-point attempts as a team, though Antetokounmpo was just as impressed with their efforts when not in possession of the ball.

    "Guys were finding open guys, getting downhill, knocking down shots. Everybody set the tone from the start," Antetokounmpo told the media.

    "From the start, you could see that everyone was locked in. Defensively also, we really seemed locked in.

    "Offensively, we found one another and knocked down shots."

    Joel Embiid had 24 points for the 76ers, though he landed just nine of his 21 shot attempts - including going 0-for-4 from three-point range.

    Antetokounmpo praised the work done by Milwaukee center Brook Lopez when going up against Embiid, with the Bucks happy to let the MVP candidate take jump shots rather than work closer to the basket.

    "Embiid is a great player, he's been playing well all season long," Antetokounmpo said.

    "You've got to live with that jump shot. You don't want to send him to the free-throw line and you don't want him to get downhill, with his right hook, and get an easy lay-up.

    "The gameplan was good - he was going to shoot his jump shot all night. If he makes it all night? Great. But if you don't make it, it's good for us.

    "Brook did a great job on him, but he [Embiid] is a great player too."

    Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers felt his team - still without Ben Simmons due to an unspecified illness - paid the price for a slow start, insisting his team were "soft" defensively to allow Milwaukee to open up a commanding lead.

    The 76ers hit back as they held their opponents to just 16 points in the fourth quarter, though in the end the gap proved just too big.

    "Everybody seemed fatigued, not just Joel, I would love to say Joel played better than most of our guys tonight," Rivers said.

    "I just felt like we were late on everything. We were soft tonight defensively. That first quarter, they get every shot they wanted. We didn't offer any resistance."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.