Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: No-Win NBA Finals

↵Today's Calls: Lakers vs. Celtics, Wings vs. History, Cubs vs. Brewers, Smoltz vs. Schilling, Volquez vs. Griffey, Mayo vs. the Feds, Tiger vs. Phil, NASCAR vs. Dirt and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: What if you don't like the Lakers OR the Celtics? ↵

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↵There are plenty of us. ↵

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↵And we can appreciate the "MVP vs. Big Three" story line. We can appreciate the chance for monster TV ratings. We can even appreciate the (gag) history. ↵

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↵But finding a rooting interest is brutal. ↵

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↵The NBA might see the Finals as a win-win; anyone who equally loathes the Lakers and Celtics just can't win. ↵

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↵OK, I am sympathetic to the as-yet-unfulfilled career of KG. And anything less than a title is a failed season for him and the C's. ↵

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↵And I recognize the career validation for Kobe if he is able to win a title "on his own." Beating a team as star-laden as Boston would be a bonus. ↵

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↵But even a die-hard hater can have an opinion on who WILL win (even if it pains me to pick either): ↵

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↵Lakers in five, with the NBA's "quirky" 2-3-2 schedule being the difference between a classic series that goes six or seven games and one that ends prematurely. ↵

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↵In a series based on nostalgia, it is the NBA's insistence on this archaic format that will come back to ruin its dream Finals. ↵

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↵Even we haters can want to see a compelling series that goes all seven games. Adding injury to insult, how appropriate that we would be denied. ↵

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↵Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup! After Game 5's finish, it was impressive for the Wings to head into Pittsburgh and seal the deal. ↵

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↵I recognize I can't do the moment justice, so I point you to SN's VLC for the key take, and to McErlain to put the Pens in perspective. ↵

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↵(I can speak authoritatively in this way: I wouldn't say the NHL is "back" as a "major" sport, but Game 5 qualifies as a breakthrough.) ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Is this the end of the Rays' run? They lost to the Red Sox in Boston -- and lost the AL East lead to the Sox, too. ↵

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↵Cubs' win streak ends at nine: How symbolic that Maddux has a hand in it. (You didn't really expect the Cubs to KEEP winning, did you?) ↵

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↵(Brewers win 6th straight: Even as the Cubs lose -- finally -- the Brewers pick up the baton on behalf of the sizzling NL Central.) ↵

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↵John Smoltz done for the season: The story line floating around is the question of whether he is done for his HOF career. (Nah.) ↵

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↵Milestone Watch: No 600 for Griffey, as he sits again. It's almost like MLB is ordering the move to keep fans coming out, home or away. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez (8-2) continues to be the biggest SP surprise of the season -- 7 IP, 2 H, 8 K on Wednesday -- with that MLB-best 1.32 ERA. ↵

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↵Paul Konerko's walk-off HR leads ChiSox over KC in 15: And I'm sure Ozzie will gripe they couldn't get the job done in a mere 9. ↵

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↵Angels edge Mariners, Mariners execs humiliate own team: They took away the postgame spread (even the towels!) ↵

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↵So, will Curt Schilling temporarily change the name of his blog to "25 Pitches?" ↵

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↵Fantasy Stud: Hanley Ramirez, who had 2 HR. If you were starting a franchise from scratch, he would be on the shortlist for sure. ↵

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↵OJ Mayo Scandal: Feds in it? Cuban nailed this: The real crackdown on iffy recruiting is for the Feds to wield the IRS stick. ↵

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↵Tiger plays 18 at Torrey Pines: But god forbid anyone actually gets to watch him gimp around. Predictable P.R. report: "Looked great!" ↵

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↵Meanwhile, credit the USGA for creating a sense of drama in pairing Tiger and Phil together in the first two rounds. ↵

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↵NFL: One notable thing about this Nick Kaczur story is that there doesn't seem to be any backlash to him "snitching." ↵

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↵Tony Sparano really doesn't mean that Jason Taylor is welcome with the Dolphins, does he? "Welcome" must be new slang for "Meh." ↵

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↵Marshawn Lynch would appear to have some explaining to do. ↵

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↵Olympic 2016 finalists: Chicago, Rio, Tokyo, Madrid. Only one city has Gibsons Steakhouse, which should seal the deal for Chicago. ↵

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↵Soccer: Jozy Altidore transferred from MLS to Spanish League's Villareal for $10M. A loss for MLS, but a huge win for U.S. Soccer's world standing. ↵

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↵Euro 08: Perhaps the U.S. is better off not being eligible. See yesterday's 1-0 loss to Spain. ↵

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↵MMA: Affliction to partner with Donald Trump. Only interesting if he gets in the ring, like he did with Vince McMahon and the WWE. ↵

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↵Triple Crown Watch: Big Brown draws No. 1 spot. As if he needed any further advantages. The Triple Crown is In. The. Bag. ↵

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↵NASCAR: So, when will dirt-track races stop being a midweek oddity and actually become a Saturday or Sunday matinee? ↵

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↵CFB: Why the SEC's Mike Slive is the best commissioner in college. (Mike: A playoff CAN be yours if you "SEC"-ede from the BCS!) ↵

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↵Sonics fans vs. OKC carpet-baggers: "Sonic Boomers?" Really? As long as they're killing Seattle fans, just keep the name "Sonics." ↵

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↵The Last Word: It's MLB Draft day! Not quite NFL or NBA levels, obviously, but still intriguing. ↵

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↵Let's be clear: "Slotting" remains the draft's defining farce. The "right" pick is the signable pick, not the best pick. ↵

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↵But just look at Evan Longoria to see how quickly a top draft pick can impact the big club. (Hmm: The Rays pick 1st today, too.) ↵

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↵No consensus No. 1, but a few top names to know are: Pedro Alvarez, Brett Wallace, Brian Matusz, Joshua Fields. ↵

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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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