Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Pierce's Big Show

↵Today's Calls: Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James, Hornets vs. Spurs, Edinson Volquez vs. Jake Peavy, Ryan Braun vs. David Ortiz, Big Brown vs. Secretariat, Candace Parker vs. Michael Jordan, Jenn Stuczynski vs. Oscar Pistorius and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: Paul Pierce had his best game ever as a Celtic, in the game where they needed it most. Forget the "Big Three"; he was the "Big One." ↵

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↵The Celtics hadn't played a more important game since the late 1980s, and they survived -- if more for the Cavs' ineptitude than Boston's own brilliance. (Except P.J. Brown, who was kind of brilliant.) ↵

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↵So, yes, the Celtics advanced to the East finals. But yet another series where they couldn't win a road game will catch up with them. ↵

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↵The Pistons are not the Cavs, just as the Cavs were not the Hawks. For a team that is supposed to be the league's best, the Celtics are still playing a dangerous game of "Home vs. Away" chicken, and the prideful ex-champs from Detroit won't be awed by the green scene in Boston. ↵

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↵Surviving the conference semifinals only underscores the magnitude of the Celtics' next challenge, because the stakes remain the same they have been since they made the "Big Three" trades: ↵

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↵Anything less than an NBA championship is a failure. The Celtics have 8 more home games -- 8 more home wins, they better hope -- to avoid that failure. ↵

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↵What next for the Cavs? LeBron can't be happy with the state of the franchise, as was evidenced by his classless stalking off the court after the game. He should have stuck around to congratulate the winners. ↵

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↵After last year's Finals trip, the Cavs really weren't close this season (notwithstanding taking Boston to 7). Boston made a huge offseason move; Cleveland didn't, with that too-little-too-late trade flurry. And there you go. ↵

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↵More Game 7 Amazing tonight: Spurs at Hornets. Either the Hornets KO the defending champs and continue their magical playoff run or the Spurs continue to prove why they are the NBA's reigning dynasty. ↵

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↵Extreme HCA in this series gives the edge to the Hornets, but between West's balky back and the Spurs' championship grit, don't count SA out. ↵

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↵(Outside of natural Spurs fans, who isn't rooting for the Hornets? OK: I guess if you affirmatively want the Lakers to lose, you probably would rather have them face the Spurs than the Hornets.) ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Edinson almost rhymes with "7-win." Cincy's Volquez (7-1) is the most intriguing pitcher in the NL this season; the Reds have won 6 straight, btw. ... 7 shutout IP for Randy Johnson in a D'backs shutout of the Tigers. ... Injury Watch: Jake Peavy will miss his start today with elbow soreness. ... Fantasy Stud: Ryan Braun, whose 2 HR on Sunday gave him 8 in the past week (David Ortiz is no slouch: In the same game, he also hit 2 HR -- and on the winning side as a bonus). ... Mets sweep Yankees in annual most "high-profile" interleague game. All together now: Meh. ↵

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↵Triple Crown Mania! It's not that Big Brown can save horse racing, per se, but it has been more than a generation (30 years) since we last saw a Triple Crown winner. This is no flaky Smarty Jones scenario; Big Brown will make must-see history. ↵

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↵NBA Ref Scandal: Remember that? Well, it turns out that ref Tim Donaghy did, in fact, bet on games that he worked. It was the last thing that the NBA would want to have come out, particularly sandwiched between playoff Game 7s. ↵

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↵One Thing to Know About the NHL Playoffs: The Stars may have been down 3-0, but they will make it interesting. Yesterday's Game 5 win in Detroit sends the series back to Dallas. With a win there, the Stars would remarkably turn a sweep into a toss-up. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the myth of Sidney Crosby grows as the kid already leads the Pens to the Stanley Cup finals. It's the best thing that could happen for the NHL (but consider last year's NBA Finals, which featured LeBron, yet had the lowest TV audience in decades). ↵

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↵Name to Know: Jenn Stuczynski, who broke the U.S. pole vault record. File that away for Beijing in August. ↵

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↵Candace Parker makes the WNBA look easy: The league's biggest star -- in her first game, mind you -- scored 34 (with 12 rebounds and 8 assists) and flashed promise that she could be the transcendent talent to widen the league's appeal. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Oscar Pistorius is the future. He may not run in the Olympics, but the ruling that his prosthetics did not constitute an unfair advantage opens up a broad (and wild) new future for sports. ↵

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↵However, you might say that between steroids and, more recently, super-swimsuits, artificial scientific enhancements had already long been tacitly approved as "prosthetics" in high-level sports. ↵

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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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