Shanoff's W.U.C.: Celtics Dead, Long Live L.A.

Today's Calls: Celtics vs. Oblivion, Magic vs. Cavs, Lakers vs. Nuggets, Pau Gasol vs. Ricky Rubio, Clayton Kershaw vs. Jake Peavy, John Lackey vs. Andy Sonnanstine, Adam Burish vs. Skates, Michael Vick vs. Himself, Rachel Alexandra vs. Michael Phelps, Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The champs are done. ↵

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↵The Celtics' reign lasted all of one year — more than enough to bring a title back to Beantown and to give Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen long-awaited championships on their resumes ... but that will be their consolation prize, because the one-and-done run began and ended in '08. ↵

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↵Although highly unexpected, the Magic's win was no fluke — they ran the champs off the floor, perhaps igniting a new fad in the NBA with their blistering 13-for-21 shooting from the 3. The 3-ball (along with Dwight Howard in the middle) gives the Magic a puncher's chance versus LeBron and Co. ↵

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↵Back to the Celtics: The Big Three aren't getting any younger. The Cavs and Magic are ascendant in the East — and only getting better next season. Who knows what will happen with KG's gimpy knee. And, in part a result of KG's absence, Rajon Rondo has emerged as a top-tier free-agent for all those teams in 2010 who have cap room but will miss out on LeBron, Wade and Bosh. ↵

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↵The Celtics were constructed for a one-year run for the 2008 title, with an option — but just an option — on 2009. Things didn't work out, and now all of a sudden, the Celtics look old, injured and bypassed by the rest of the league's top contenders. ↵

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↵But, hey, at least they have last year's title. Fitting for a "yesterday's news" team. ↵

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↵Lakers bury Rockets: Now THERE was your statement by the would-be champs. After being out-played in the post all series, the Lakers jumped out quick and never looked back — behind Pau Gasol's "take-that" 21 and 18. If the old wisdom was "L.A. is in trouble," the new wisdom is "Still the team to beat." ↵

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↵Conference finals snapshot: ↵

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↵— Lakers-Nuggets: Should be a terrific series. The Nuggets have the firepower to keep up with L.A. — plus Laker-killer Chauncey Billups. ↵

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↵— Cavs-Magic: LeBron and Co. are rested and have home-court advantage; the Magic are substantially better than either of the previous teams the Cavs have played. Having beaten the Cavs 2-out-3 times this season — and won a gritty series with the vaunted Celtics — I don't think the Magic will be intimidated. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵— Kershaw's near-no-no: Goes into 8th, ends with 1-hitter (9 Ks) ↵

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↵— Lineup card snafu: Batting 3rd: Andy Sonnanstine (RBI double!) ↵

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↵— Walk-Off Watch: ANOTHER W-O win from the Yanks? ↵

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↵— Lackey Mania: 2 pitches (and out) on Sat., gets start tonight ↵

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↵— Royals Bandwagon: W over O's ensures .500+ at quarter mark. ↵

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↵— Halladay first to 8 wins: Take that, Zack ↵

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↵— Milestone Watch: Pudge 300 HR (Yes, or "300") ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Jake Peavy (CG 4-hitter, 8 K) ↵

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↵NHL Playoffs: Wings beat the Blackhawks, but — yikes — how about that Adam Burish close-call with a skate blade? ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Ricky Rubio is considered one of only two clear prizes of tomorrow's lottery draft — and, according to Kings GM Geoff Petrie's Twitter accounts — Rubio was injured Saturday in the Spanish league playoffs. He's still a lock to go in the Top 2, along with Blake Griffin. ↵

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↵Vick Watch: Getting back on the field — or, at least, his front lawn — this week? Can we all please stop the fantasy that Michael Vick won't be playing in the NFL next season? There is no way a team (or several) doesn't take a chance on him. ↵

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↵Michael Phelps' return: Lost in the 100 free — but came away from Charlotte with the competitive juices flowing again. ↵

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↵Horses: Rachel Alexandra kind of has Horse of the Year locked up, wouldn't you think? The only question: Does she have Female Athlete of the Year locked up, too? ↵

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↵CFB: Is Urban Meyer going to Notre Dame? Steve Spurrier is half-right; the answer is: "Eventually." Will he do it after next season, once he has won his third national title in four years, not to mention lost his favorite player ever, Tim Tebow? (Oh, and not to mention after Charlie Weis has been fired after yet another disappointing season?) That would be the right moment, but I'm saying: Probably not right then. But, yes, eventually. ↵

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↵Tennis: Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal ... on clay? Now THAT was unexpected. ↵

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↵RIP, Wayman Tisdale. One of the Top 20 college hoops players of all time. He was Tyler Hansbrough before Hansbrough made "three-time All-American" look like something new. Nope: Tisdale pulled it off 25 years ago. ↵

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↵Media: Hey, World Series games will reportedly start a half-hour earlier (a few minutes to 8 ET, rather than half-past-8). But let's stop this fantasy of "But what about the children?" Maybe that means a kid can catch the first half-inning, but the games will still run well past 11 p.m. ET — what kid can stay up until near midnight on a school night? (And what parent, for that matter?) ↵

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↵Story of the Weekend: Jack Kerouac was a fantasy baseball nut. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "He may look up next week and say, 'I want a job.' But as of right now, he's retired. That's it." ↵
↵— Bus Cook, Brett Favre's agent. Why won't folks let this story go until there is actually something to say? (Ugh: I'm as bad as the rest for even mentioning it.) ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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