G1: Heat 102, @ Toronto 96: Reasons Miami is better, will advance; plus LeBron wants Heat next, Bosh ruled out, new Dolphins SB odds, Mavis Staples, 'Back In My Day,' could've-beens, Marlins odds, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 5. Watch for a brand new blog posting here later this morning. 2) Sorry Dolfans but a Laremy Tunsil-styled Dolphins logo incorporating a bong gas mask is too funny to not pass along. Tunsil's career may outgrow that infamous draft-night photo, but not soon. Example: This FunnyorDie.com spoof skewers Tunsil. (Warning: Rough language). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Metrics give Heat 1 in 3 series shot vs. Toronto but I like Miami with poll, Kiper/McShay final thoughts on Dolphins draft, your verdict on Fins draft & more. 4) Click here for my latest Back In My Day. Comes late in podcast, around 1:07 mark. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
SHULA: A RENEWED APPRECIATION: A health scare that hospitalized Don Shula this week at age 86 invites us to reflect and renew our appreciation for the great longtime former Dolphins coach. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read my latest column in full.
The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, my latest, previewing the Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick.
Bosh out rest of playoffs: Heat and Chris Bosh releaseed this joint statement late this afternoon: "The Miami Heat and Chris Bosh announce that Chris will not be playing in the remainder of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible." No surprise but need to be said given the recent distraction of #BringBoshBack and the NBA Players Association involvement.
LeBron admits he wants Wade, Heat next: Said LeBron James following a Cavs shootaround today, on whether he has thought about facing the Heat in the Eastern finals: "Naturally, of course. That's since I've came back [to Cleveland from Miami]. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series. We've always talked about it even before we became teammates in '10. It's not been heavy on my mind, but it's crossed my mind throughout my whole career."
Dolphins latest odds: Still no love: No love for Fins in post-draft Super Bowl odds via Bovada today. Miami is 66-1, same as pre-free agency and last in AFC East. Patriots are 7-1 (first overall), Jets 40-1, Bills 50-1. And no Laremy Tunsil among top 10 picks for offensive rookie.
Marlins latest odds: New World Series odds out via Bovada show Marlins the same 50-1 as coming into season despite recent hot streak. One problem? Three favorites to win it all are NL clubs, with Cubs on top at 5-1 and Mets/Nationals (both in Marlins' division) both 10-1. Jose Fernandez is 16-1 for Cy Young (tie, eighth), but Giancarlo Stanton (8 homers) isn't among 14 players listed 20-1 or better for MVP.
G1: HEAT 102, @ TORONTO 96: WE SAW WHY MIAMI IS BETTER TEAM, WILL WIN SERIES: If it's seven games of this, can the heart take it? Miami squandered a late 79-67 lead, went into overtime on Kyle Lowry's desperation half-court 3 at the buzzer, but then prevailed in OT 102-96 last night, fueled by two field goals and a steal by (who else) Dwyane Wade. Reasons Miami is better and will win series: 1) Wade had 24 points and Goran Dragic 26 last night on combined 20-for-41 shooting, seriously outplaying TOR counterparts DeMar DeRozan and Lowry. Lowry, despite the prayer that forced OT, has been awful in the playoffs, shooting 30.6 percent including 3-for-13 last night. That's the worst postseason percentage by any NBA player in a half century, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 2) Miami also hit big with a 52-41 rebounding advantage in Game 1 led by Hassan Whiteside's 17 boards, and that edge should continue. 3) Heat have the perimeter defenders, with Tyler Johnson back and with Rook 1 and Rook 2, to bother the Raptors' game. 4) Erik Spoelstra is a better coach than Dwane Casey. (And by the way, Dwane, our Dwyane is the only one who gets to misspell Dwayne). In sum, a gigantic road win to open the series entering Game 2 Thursday night back in Toronto. ..... Original post: Both teams are coming off watershed series. Toronto is past the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in 21 franchise seasons and the first since 2001. Miami (after missing the playoffs altogether last year) just won its first postseason series since 2006 not involving a man named LeBron James. So the
question now: Who isn't satisfied? Who is hungrier for more? This is the closest of the four conference semifinal series in terms of betting odds and the toughest call entering Game 1 tonight at 8 in Toronto. The Raptors understandably are favored, with the better season record, a 3-1 series edge and home-court advantage. But you get the feeling -- by which I mean I get the feeling -- the Raptors are closer to happy-just-to-be-here mode, whereas the Heat are hell-bent-driven for an Eastern finals showdown with LeBron and the Cavs. More pragmatically, I think Miami is a bit deeper, has a tad more offensive pop and enjoys the clear edge in playoff experience. Certainly the Heat come in off a more comfortable Game 7 showing in the last series. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan may get his points -- he scored 30, 33 and 38 in the Raptors' three season wins over Miami -- but fellow guard Kyle Lowery is lessened by a tender elbow, which could hurt Toronto. The Heat have more go-to options offensively, and one of them, Hassan Whiteside, may be poised for a big series in a favorable matchup if he can stay out of foul trouble. Other key questions: Will we see the vintage Dwyane Wade of old, or the old Wade. Can Goran Dragic consistently be the difference-maker who poured in 25 points in Game 7? Might Joe Johnson be the force he was in helping Brooklyn eliminate Toronto two years ago? Lots of compelling storylines here -- even with Chris Bosh still out and not facing his longtime former team. Miami will need to at least split these two games in Toronto to win the right to come home feeling good about its chances. And tonight might be the night to cherry-pick that road win, with Toronto on a 1-8 in playoff series openers. My series pick: Heat in 6. (Click on Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals for latest column).
1 EX-DOLPHIN. 1 FORMER HEAT PLAYER (THOUGH BOTH BARELY) MAKE LIST YOU DON'T WANT TO BE ON: ESPN unveils a dubious Top 25 all-time athletes in unfulfilled potential -- the "Could-Have-Beens." Click here for the full list. Two with South Florida ties (albeit brief ones) make it. At No. 14 is running back Lawrence Phillips, who appeared in two Dolphins games in 1997, rushing 18 times for 44 yards. And at No. 1 is center Greg Oden, who played in 23 Heat games in 2013-14, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.
MAVIS STAPLES, AMERICAN TREASURE, PERFORMS TONIGHT IN BROWARD: Mavis Staples performs tonight/Wednesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, opening for venerable gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama. They could as well have been the opening act for her, such is her stature in music and the phenomenal career renaissance she is enjoying at age 76. I am an unabashed admirer and fan who has followed her career since first becoming familiar with her family group the Staple Singers in the '70s. In fact I write a Twitter fan site for her; click on Mavis_Staples for my tribute site, and on MavisStaples for her official site. I first knew of Mavis as the lead singer for the family group that enjoyed several years of chart popularity with songs such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "If You're Ready." The music intrigued me partly because I couldn't easily categorize it. It was gospel-flavored pop but with also parts R&B (what they used to call soul music) and funk. There was a grit to it. To my ears, the Detroit sound of Motown always seemed like music recorded in an air-conditioned studio, while the less-polished sound of Memphis and Stax Records (the Staples' label) seemed as if it were recorded in a club, with sweat involved. I only learned later that the Staple Singers were first a gospel group singing in Chicago churches and producing standards such as "Uncloudy Day," long before the mainstream success. The group also was intimately involved in the civil rights movement; group leader Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Martin Luther King were close friends. Pops famously told his family, "If he [King] can preach it, we can sing it," and the result were civil-rights anthems such as "Freedom Highway." The video below is a funk-filled, bass-line-driven song about segregationist days called "Down In Mississippi." Mavis Staples is living history. The decades of diverse music -- from gospel roots to socially conscious music to mainstream success -- led the Staple Singers to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Staple Singers were finished by the mid-'80s, Pops passed away in 2000. But Mavis was far from done. She was rediscovered by Prince, a fan, and appeared prominently on his 1990 album, Graffiti Bridge. More recently she won a 2011 Grammy for Best Americana Recording with a solo album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of the group Wilco. He also produced her well-received 2013 followup album, One True Vine. A new album, Livin' On a High Note, features performances by Nick Cave, Neko Case and others. A new documentary film, "Mavis!" premiered Feb. 29 on HBO. She will open on tour for Bob Dylan starting in June. Crossing genres and appealing to all audiences, young and old, has marked her career resurgence. She has played jazz fests and folk festivals, appealing to all. Just last week, she played at the youth-skewed Coachella festival, and spoke a moving tribute to Prince, whom she called "my son." Mavis Staples' concerts are intimate, moving and uplifting. She aims to spread joy, and succeeds. If you have not discovered her music, it isn't too late. If you have never seen her live in concert, do treat yourself Wednesday night.
Click on Broward Center for ticket information about Mavis' Wednesday, May 4 show with The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Poll result: Heat will win Raptors series, say 73 percent: We asked the likelihold Miami would advance past Toronto in the series starting tonight and it was 28.8 percent voting 60%-plus, 44.6% voting 50-59%, 15.1% voting 40-49% and 11.5% voting 40% or less. That's 73.4% voting over 50% likelihood vs. 26.6% under.
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