Shanoff's W.U.C.: Magic Over Lakers in 5

Today's Calls: Lakers vs. Magic, Jameer Nelson vs. Willis Reed, Roy Halladay vs. Zack Greinke, Joe Mauer vs. Randy Johnson, Memphis vs. NCAA, Penguins vs. Red Wings, Brandon Marshall vs. NFL, LeBron vs. David Stern and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Lakers in 6. That is President Obama's pick for the NBA Finals. Given his success in the NCAA Tournament, he has earned some sports-picking cred. ↵

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↵Obama is a leading indicator: Everyone seems to think the Lakers will win, that the Lakers are unstoppable. There is your first signal that something is wrong. These "experts" were the same ones who had no doubt that the Cavs would obliterate Orlando. ↵

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↵Magic over Cavs in 6. That was MY pick for the East finals. Now, you could argue that I haven't gotten a meaningful prediction right all year long -- that I also picked the Nuggets in 6. But don't I get a little credit, heading into the Finals? ↵

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↵Flashback, 2004: Lakers over Pistons in 4. Five years ago, the Lakers were overwhelming favorites against another lightly regarded East team -- Detroit. ("Lakers sweep" was my pick -- on national TV. Urp.) The Pistons clobbered L.A. in 5. ↵

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↵Folks are overlooking the Magic. Maybe it is that it is Orlando, a team without the championship pedigree of the Lakers. But the Magic have just dispatched the defending champs and the team with the best record in the NBA -- if pressure hasn't fazed them yet... ↵

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↵Who guards D12? (Bynum?) Who guards Lewis? (Gasol?) Sure, Kobe will get his, but Kobe always gets his. (So did LeBron.) And for all the talk of Orlando's 3-point shooting and overall size, it is their defense that has defined them this season. ↵

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↵The Magic have been written off since the 1st round ended -- Orlando couldn't possibly beat the Celtics in Boston in a Game 7, couldn't possibly derail LeBron. Go ahead: Dismiss them again. They seem to thrive on low expectations. They will do it again. ↵

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↵Magic in 5. ↵

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↵Finals storylines: Jameer Nelson as Willis Reed 2.0? Will his presence on the court be motivating -- or momentum-killing? The Magic are doing pretty well with their current rotation, wouldn't you say? Symbolic value, yes; box-score value, no. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Big Unit goes for 300 today ↵

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↵• Who's Zack Greinke? Show Halladay love (14 Ks, 9th W). ↵

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↵• Joe Mauer is unstoppable: HR, 3 RBI in Twins W. ↵

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↵• Rangers the new Jays? Hot Yanks expose Texas. ↵

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↵• Struggling: Dice-K finally wins one. ↵

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↵• Streaking: Ichiro hits in 26th straight. ↵

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↵• AL All-Star Voting: Longoria topples A-Rod. ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Matt Joyce (3/4, HR, 4 RBI). ↵

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↵Memphis scandal, cont'd: I'm sure you are shocked -- shocked -- to find out that Memphis said they could find no proof that Derrick Rose (or whoever the mystery player is) cheated on his SATs to be eligible to play in Memphis' 2007-08 season. ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: Pens don't roll over, beat Wings in Game 3 in Pittsburgh to make folks believe they might actually have a chance of winning this series. (Meanwhile: McErlain on the offseason.) ↵

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↵Women's CWS: Washington takes the title, sweeping Florida and providing a winning counter-balance to the Huskies' atrocious football program. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Sean Deveney's latest mock keeps Rubio at No. 2 to Memphis, but all signals point to the Grizzlies either skipping Rubio altogether (drafting Thabeet) or swapping the pick to a team that really wants him (and he really wants to play for), like Sacto. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: So about that Personal Conduct Code ... Brandon Marshall escapes without (another) suspension -- even though he was arrested -- among other reasons, because his girlfriend wouldn't testify against him. (Was the NFL trying to say: No snitchin'.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I think that's fair to say." -- David Stern, when asked if he was ticked at the league's biggest superstar for skipping Saturday's post-elimination interview session (not to mention the unsportsmanlike missing handshake). ↵

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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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