Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Rockets, Wiz Finished

Today's Calls: Jazz vs. Rockets, Tracy McGrady vs. LeBron James, Caps vs. Bruins, David Ortiz vs. Chase Utley, Armando Galarraga vs. Ben Sheets, Brian Cashman vs. Hank Steinbrenner, Matt Ryan vs. Jake Long, Kobe Bryant vs. Manu Ginobili and More! ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Channeling my inner Billy Packer, let me call two NBA series as "over" after a mere two games: ↵

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↵The Jazz won a 2nd straight game on the road in Houston, putting the Rockets in an 0-2 hole with 3 to play in Salt Lake City. ↵

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↵Tracy McGrady did nothing for his "Greatest Active NBA Playoff Choker" label, with 1 point on a mere 4 (missed) shots in the 4th quarter. ↵

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↵The Rockets may have won 22 straight during the regular season, but they will be hard-pressed to win 4 of 5 over the next 2 weeks. ↵

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↵At least Houston fans, like any losing game-show contestant, get to keep that record win streak, no matter how their season ends. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Cavs broke the Wizards' spirit, shellacking the Wiz by a Cavs-franchise-playoff-record 30 points. ↵

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↵LeBron symmetrically matched that margin with 30, and he seems intent on humiliating the mouthy Wizards, MJ-style. ↵

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↵True, it's an entirely different series when the Wiz return to DC for the next 2 games, but after this shellacking, it feels over. ↵

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↵And, yes, it's iffy to "call" a 7-game playoff series -- let alone two of them -- after a mere 2 games, but the conditions warrant the outlook. From "Over" to "Ovie": All that said, if you want a glimpse at how fortunes can go from seeming oblivion to promise, look no further than that the Wizards' very same Verizon Center... ↵

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↵...Where the Caps will take the ice tonight after having forced a Game 7 last night behind Ovechkin's two 3rd-period goals, pulling off a 4-2 win in Philly. ↵

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↵The Caps could join less than two dozen other NHL teams who have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. "Over?" Not if "Ovie" has anything to say about it. ↵

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↵(The flip side: The Bruins came back from 3-1 to force a Game 7, but lost all of their momentum when the series returned to Montreal, losing anticlimactically, 5-0. The key difference between the Bruins and Caps: Washington gets Game 7 at home. Expect fan insanity.) ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: ANOTHER big game for the resurgent David Ortiz (2-4, 3 RBI)... Break up the Cubs!... The Phillies beat the Rockies in one of those playoff "rematches" where the losing team wins and everyone notes that it doesn't make the previous season's loss feel particularly better (Chase Utley: HR in 5th straight game)... Micah Owings!... Tim Hudson: 6 scoreless IP *and* 2 RBI... Ominous foreshadowing: Ben Sheets to miss his start Wednesday with arm trouble... Armando Galarraga: Check your fantasy available-player wire! ↵

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↵Brian Cashman wins first open battle with Hank Steinbrenner, over the fate of Joba Chamberlain: Hank publicly griped about wanting Joba to start; Hank backed down, and Cashman controlled the message: Joba will start eventually, but not immediately. Winner: Cashman. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Are the Dolphins close to a deal with Jake Long? Or is this simply the latest ploy to get people to think they are, so they can pressure their top-rated D-player (say, Vernon Gholston) into taking less money? ↵

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↵Will/should the Falcons take Matt Ryan at No. 3, or fill another need -- they have so many -- and take a QB in a later round? I'm not so blown away by Ryan (or so sure ATL won't be back near the top next year) that they shouldn't wait on UGA's Matt Stafford in '09. (And GM Tom Dimitroff is saying he has gotten offers for the 3-pick, too.) ↵

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↵Pac-Man Files: I sympathize with claims that Jones was extorted by the alleged strip-club shooter -- that couldn't have been easy to deal with -- but wouldn't he only pay if he had something he wanted to keep quiet? ↵

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↵NFL Trades: I suspect the Vikings end up with Jared Allen before Draft weekend is over; rumor has it they are upping their offer to KC. And it will be bigger than any draft pick the Vikes could make. ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: Scott Skiles to coach Bucks. Because we saw how well the martinet Skiles did with a young team like the Bulls. ↵

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↵"I always feel like I'm supposed to apologize for that. And I'm not sure that's the tack I want to take." Sigh. ↵

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↵Let me map out Skiles' Bucks career: Tough talk, followed by player alienation. They quickly turn on him, and eventually he's fired. ↵

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↵NBA Awards Season: Manu Ginobili wins 6th Man. He could/should start for every team in the league, including his own. (When was the last time a 6th Man made, say, 3rd-team All-NBA? Because that's Ginobili.) ↵

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↵NBA Draft Early-Entry Watch: Kosta Koufos, the Ohio State 7-footer... because, well, he's a 7-footer, presumably. ↵

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↵"I've always wanted to be here": Kobe's attempt to rewrite history (recent history!) is even stronger than his drive to the basket. ↵

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↵CBB: Would CBS really replace Billy Packer over his "This game is over!" comment in the first half of the Kansas-UNC game? I'm all for getting rid of Packer -- but for being joyless, not for that comment, which was the most refreshingly honest thing a broadcaster has said in a high-profile sports event in years. ↵

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↵The Last Word: I'm not sure how I feel about the three Presidential candidates kowtowing to WWE fans. On the one hand, they are a very real constituency; on the other hand, it's WWE. I guess they all go on "Ellen" and "The View" -- it's all scripted entertainment. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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