Shanoff's W.U.C.: Magic, Greinke, Barca, Bee

Today's Calls: Dwight Howard vs. LeBron James, Zack Greinke vs. Stephen Strasburg, Barcelona vs. Manchester United, Spelling Bee vs. Champions League, BCS vs. Transparency, Lane Kiffin vs. the SEC and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: LeBron may be the best player in the NBA, but he isn't on the best team. ↵

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↵That would be the Orlando Magic -- bigger, deeper, better coached ... and on the verge of knocking off the regular season's best team and imploding the myth of "Witness": ↵

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↵Bigger: Cleveland had no answer for Dwight Howard (27/14) down the stretch, particularly in OT. It was like Anderson Varejao's game-saving defense at the regulation buzzer just made Howard want to dunk on the Cavs for the subsequent 5 minutes. ↵

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↵Deeper: LeBron may have pulled an "Obama" (44 points), the Magic had four players with 17 or more points, including Mike Pietrus' 17 points (and 40 minutes) off the bench. Rafer Alston had six 3s — Rafer Alston! On 50 percent shooting! Wha?!?! ↵

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↵Better coached: On offense, the Magic torched the Cavs' vaunted defense for 17 3s (on 44 percent shooting, a much more important "44" than LeBron's scoring total); on defense, the Magic's tangle of long limbs forced LeBron into eight turnovers. ↵

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↵Sure, it's possible the Cavs could rally from the 3-1 series deficit, but they have been out-played in every game of the series so far, including last night; there is no evidence LeBron and Co. are the better team — let alone that they can win three straight. ↵

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↵Remember when everyone was thinking how indestructible the Cavs look? How they would wax the survivor of the Magic-Celtics series? Doesn't that analysis seem pretty foolish right now? ↵

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↵Champions League Final: Barcelona vs. Man U. Who ya got? All the experts are taking Manchester, but I am a Barca fan going back at least the eight years since I fell in love with them on a trip to Europe to find a soccer team to support. I'll take Barca. ↵

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↵(If you can, head out of work or school at 2:30 and find the best soccer bar in your town showing the game. You don't have to know anything — or even care — about soccer to enjoy the atmosphere.) ↵

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↵Spelling Bee: This might be my favorite sports event of the year. There is nothing in sports — not a game-winning Super Bowl drive, not a last-second 3 in the NBA Playoffs, not needing a HR in your final at-bat — that compares to the pressure these kids are under in the Bee's grueling format. ↵

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↵I rely on Darren Rovell for my Bee handicapping, but I agree with him that Kavya Shivashankar — with three Top 10 finishes in the past three years — is the Bee'er to beat. (Now: How can I find a bar that is showing BOTH the Champions League final AND the Bee?!?!) ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: It's ALWAYS about Greinke ↵

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↵— Ga-Ga Greinke, Cont'd: CG 6-hitter, 8 Ks, 0 BB. ↵

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↵— Padres W streak over: Wasn't going to last ALL month. ↵

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↵— Papi bats 6th: It doesn't help. ↵

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↵— Injury Watch: Hanley (groin) | Braun (wrist). ↵

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↵— Strasburg Mania: Get ready for MLB Draft. ↵

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↵— Fantasy Studs: Blanton (7 IP, 5 H, 11 K) | Davis (2 HR). ↵

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↵NHL Playoffs: Penguins sweep, sending them back to their second straight Stanley Cup Finals. Right in the middle of it: Sidney Crosby, with 2 assists. ↵

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↵NFL: Anquan Boldin fires Drew Rosenhaus. Funny, you didn't see the agent breaking that story with a tweet. ↵

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↵CFB BCS Mess: Apparently, the coaches didn't like the scrutiny they were under for their ballots — the ballots that only decide which teams play for the national freaking title. ↵

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↵But instead of, say, dropping themselves out of the BCS formula, they are reportedly (per USAT) going the other way: They will return to the old system of not letting anyone see how they voted. It's an insult to fans. ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Mike Florio's top 10 best offseason moves. ↵

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↵Tim Tebow Watch: Does this really even surprise you? ↵

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↵Pop Culture: More people care about "Jon & Kate" than LeBron & Kobe. (As seen on Twitter about 18 hours ago.) ↵

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↵Politics: Why should baseball fans support the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor? Because she ended the baseball strike back in '94-'95. ↵

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↵Condolences to Mike Tyson on the tragic death of his 4-year-old daughter. Between the documentary film about his life and his star cameo in "The Hangover," it felt like Tyson had turned the corner and become embraced by the public that shunned him for so long. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "Do I love everything I had to do to get us to this point? No, I don't. But we had to make an immediate impact. We couldn't have sat back in the weeds and hoped we signed a top 10 class in a couple of years." ↵
↵— Lane Kiffin, justifying why he has acted like college football's biggest schmuck since joining the SEC coaching fraternity. ↵

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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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