Shanoff's W.U.C.: Guide to Finals Story Lines

Today's Calls: Lakers vs. Magic, Kobe vs. Dwight, Phil vs. Stan, Nate McClouth vs. Tom Glavine, Josh Beckett vs. Randy Johnson, Penguins vs. Red Wings, Elena Della Donne vs. Jake Heaps, Brian Westbrook vs. TO and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Your cheat-sheet to the Top 10 NBA Finals story lines, after 4-plus days of buildup: ↵

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↵(1) No. 4: Can Kobe win a title "on his own?" ↵

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↵(2) Dwight Howard Era leapfrogs LeBron Era? ↵

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↵(3) Coaches: Phil's Zen cool vs. Stan's heart-on-sleeve mania. ↵

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↵(4) Matchup to Watch: Pau Gasol vs. Rashard Lewis. ↵

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↵(5) Style: Versatility rules (h/t: Shoals). ↵

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↵(6) Jameer Nelson: Willis Reed 2.0? ↵

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↵(7) Lamar Odom: Likes candy, apparently. ↵

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↵(8) Lakers HCA: But format switches to 2-3-2. ↵

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↵(9) Huge TV ratings: Will they continue? ↵

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↵(10) Picks: Obama leads Lakers bandwagon. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points Trying again for 300 ... ↵

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↵• Mother Nature hates baseball: Unit 300 rain ppd. ↵

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↵• Trade Mania: Braves get OF McLouth. ↵

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↵• Braves dump Glavine: No nostalgia here. ↵

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↵• AL's Best: Beckett's near no-no | Feldman unbeaten. ↵

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↵• Streaking: Ichiro hits in 27th straight ↵

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↵• JC Romero back from 50-G ban: 2 H, 1 R in 1.1 IP ↵

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↵• Fantasy Studs: Rays! Jeff Niemann AND Ben Zobrist. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: James Harden is one of the hardest players to read. He could go as high as No. 3 to OKC; Deveney has him slipping to the Knicks at 8. Is he a poor man's Dwyane Wade or perhaps the new Eric Gordon? Deveney goes 1-on-1 with him. ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: Normally, the cliche is that Game 5 of a series tied 2-2 is the one called "pivotal," because the winner is then just one game from championship. In this case, that pivotal game comes tonight – in Game 4 -- if only because of what happened last year. ↵

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↵Memphis scandal: ANOTHER player with sketchy SAT scores? There goes that US News ranking! ↵

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↵CBB: The most intriguing player of the 2009-10 season? Elena Della Donna. ↵

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↵CFB Recruiting: Jake Heaps is the next great BYU QB, in a program where "next great QB" actually means something huge. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Brian Westbrook could be out until September, after his ankle surgery Friday? Forget the impact on the Eagles' season; does this mean his fantasy value drops? (BTW: Makes that LeSean McCoy draft pick all the more valuable.) ↵

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↵T.O. Watch: Would YOU want to live next door to him? No thanks. ↵

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↵Economy: What was I saying earlier this week about the inevitability of corporate logos on jerseys in mainstream sports leagues like MLB, NBA and... oh, let's see here... the NFL? ↵

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↵Media: Tony Dungy joins NBC's "Football Night." Just as long as they don't get into morality. Meanwhile, supposedly, they are going away from highlights and focusing on debate -- that would be fine, but I actually liked FNIA's highlights package as my 7 pm recap. ↵

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↵Tennis: Roger Federer has to be sort of freaking out right now. You get the sense that he never thought he would win the French Open, given Nadal's lock on that tournament. Now he is only two match wins away from adding it to his "best-ever" resume. ↵

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↵Retirements: Sammy Sosa. Wait: Wasn't he retired already? No? How many years do you have to be out of baseball before you can no longer claim you aren't retired? Does Minnie Minoso know about this tactic? ↵

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↵The Last Word: Vote for Steve Cohen! The Congressman from Tennessee sent the NBA a letter asking them to repeal the senseless and unfair age-limit rule that would insist that LeBron needed a mandatory year of college to be "ready" for the NBA. Or Kobe. Or Dwight Howard. Or Rashard Lewis. Or Andrew Bynum. (And that's just among the starters in the NBA Finals, let alone the rest of the league.) ↵

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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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