1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 14. New blogpost coming later today! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with the end (for now) of the Heat drama, Waiting on Dwyane. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat biggest-challenger poll, Dolphins' preseason schedule and draft projection, U.S. World Cup video, Kaepernick police report, Hank Aaron & more. 4) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.
Wade shines but Heat fall: The good news: Dwyane Wade returns from nine games' absence and scores 24 points in 23 minutes on 10-for-14 shooting. The bad news: Heat fall at Atlanta, 98-85, to fall into tie with Indiana for No. 1 Eastern seed, both teams at 54-26. Then Pacers beat Oklahoma City and now can clinch the top seed by winning at Philadelphia Wednesday. Heat end at Washington tonight and vs. Philadelphia Wednesday. No. 1 seed will open playoffs vs. Atlanta and No. 2 seed likely against Charlotte.
THE DWYANE WADE POLL: ON HEALTH AND TRUST: The Heat's bid for a three-peat is less about No. 1 (the conference seed) than it is about No. 3 (Dwyane Wade's health). Wade missed a ninth consecutive game with a strained left hamstring before finally returning to action last night. For the season he has missed 28 games with various ailments. The goal is to have him fit and ready for the playoffs but nobody can be sure of that. In posing this poll question I ask what you sense Wade's realistic postseason contribution may be. How much do you trust his body to be healthy for the long playoff run? Not what you hope he does, but what you honestly expect. Vote and say why.
LEBRON'S 36 POWERS HEAT OVER PACERS IN DUEL FOR NO. 1 SEED: Regular season nights do not get much better than this one as the Heat hosted Indiana and won 98-86 Friday night to seize control of the NBA's No. 1 Eastern Conference playoff seeding. If you think home court in a series Game 7 is important, then those are the stakes. The tired Pacers were sufficiently rested and deploy their full starting lineup, but Roy Hibbert -- a 7-2 slug against the rest of the league but usually Superman against the Heat -- was a nonfactor against Udonis Haslem's defense. Dwyane Wade once again out with a strained left hamstring, but LeBron James' 36 points made up for it. "Playoff atmosphere" gets thrown around too casually, but we came close to that last night. My column off the game focused on how all the chatter about the top seed has diminished how Wade's health remains a far greater factor for Miami in the playoffs. Click on It's About No. 3, Not No. 1 to read.
Poll result: Pacers still biggest East threat to Heat: We asked in the last blogpost and 53.5 percent called Indiana the greatest challenge to Miami in the Eastern Conference, followed by Brooklyn (31.8%), Chicago (11.6%) and "other" (3.1%). The same poll in September, before the season, had it Indiana 54.7, Chicago 33.9, Brooklyn 8.9 and other 2.5, so, in effect, the Nets and Bulls just swapped roles.
COLBERT REPLACING LETTERMAN, BUT NOT THAT COLBERT: Stephen Colbert is replacing David Letterman next year, but it won't be as his character (pictured) from The Stephen Colbert Report on Comedy Central. This is a risk, in that his lovable mock-right wing zealot character his how most know Colbert. But those who know him best and know his talents best, like Jon Stewart, say he'll be terrific as himself. He'd better be, because his competition, Jimmy Fallon, is kicking some serious late-night a--.
DOLPHINS SIGN ANOTHER WIDE RECIVER. HMM...: Dolphins sign ex-Titans wide receiver Damian Williams, 25, to a one-year deal. Interesting, because receiver is not a position where depth or another body would seem to be needed. Could be a hedge, with Brian Hartline coming back from an injury. Or, maybe we should resurrect that recurring rumor about the team shopping around Mike Wallace?
(WARNING. THIS ITEM MAY INVOLVE CLEAVAGE). BRIANNE VOTED TOP DOLPHINS CHEERLEADER!: We here at Greg Cote's Random Evidence blog couldn't be prouder of Brianne Herndon, whose photo at right was voted No.
1 most popular in a Dolphins Cheerleaders March-Madness style bracket on their website. (Who knew cheerleaders had websites!) Voters consisted entirely of middle-aged married men. This contest, along with the cheerleaders' annual swimsuit calendar, are perfect examples of these brave young women fighting back against the sexist objectification of women by determining that the objectification will be on their terms, dammit! Because when you think about it, the one freedom perhaps most
worth fighting for is Brianne's freedom to wear the bikini of her choice. She is pictured top left in her official cheer attire, and bottom left lounging languidly on a sunny beach, daydreaming perhaps of a really big Dolphins field goal. God Bless America!
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