GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Micky Arison in crosshairs over Carnival-Cuba connection with poll, Heat and Panthers' shared blueprint, Donald Trump porn parody & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and now Snapchat, too.
Rats & Cats, 20 Years On: An historical bookend? Twenty years ago the Panthers' "Year of the Rat" made South Florida fall in love with hockey. Twenty years later, can the 2016 Cats bring back the love with the franchise's first playoff series advance since '96? Game 1 vs. the Islanders is here Thursday night. My latest column is here right now: Click on Rats & Cats, 20 Years On.
The Last 3: My three most recent columns prior to the new one linked above, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint, on two teams' similar philosophy. Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night.
IT'S HEAT-CHARLOTTE IN PLAYOFFS' FIRST ROUND. MIAMI COLLAPSES BUT KEEPS NO. 3 SEED: How bizarre. Miami loses at Boston tonight 99-88 with an abysmal second half, but keeps No.3 East seed because Atlanta also lost. So now Heat have home-court advantage and host Charlotte in first round this weekend, with Game 1 Saturday or Sunday. Miami led 60-34 at one point tonight but was outscored on a 21-0 run in Boston. Heat scored a franchise-low 5 points on 2-for-20 shooting in the turd third quarter. I told Erik Spoelstra he shouldn't have played those Yanni records at halftime! Yet Miami comes up smelling like a rose, keeping the No. 3 seed and avoiding LeBron's Cavs until the Eastern finals. The question now: Will tonight's awful collapse have a carryover effect?
Heat-Hornets playoff history: This will be the third playoff series between the two franchises. The results, with each team's series leading scorer:
2014: Miami wins in first round, 4-0. MIA--LeBron James, 30.0. CHA--Kemba Walker, 19.5.
2001: Charlotte wins in first round, 3-0. MIA--Eddie Jones, 19.0 CHA--Jamal Mashburn, 23.7.
IT'S THE SINGLE GREATEST REGULAR SEASON-ENDING NIGHT IN NBA HISTORY: The bones of basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith rest at Lawrence Memorial Park Cemetery in Lawrence, Kansas. But let's get a bit more metaphorical than that and imagine Naismith up in Hoops Heavens today and smiling down upon the bounty he created. This is the greatest season-ending day in NBA history. For Warriors and Lakers fans, history is the exact word for it. But Heat fans also are on-edge for a telling finish:
Kobe Bryant retires: The Los Angeles Lakers host Utah at 10:30 tonight in an evening sure to be full of love and tears -- Bryant's final game of an elite 20-year career, all with L.A. Love him or hate him, the Black Mamba retires as a five-time champion and third-leading scorer in league history, after only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. ESPN's #NBArank recently judged Bryant No. 12 on its list of greatest players. Words like "superstar" and "all-time great" are overused in sports. Kobe is both. Kobe was both.
Golden States goes for all-time record: Warriors host Memphis tonight at 10:30 having tied the Chicago Bull's 1996 season record of 72 victories, so it's one last chance for Stephen Curry and his reigning champions to own the mark outright. And you know they won't let it slip; GS is a 17-point favorite and it would be absolutely stunning if they did not win. Prediction: Around midnight tonight and just past -- maybe sooner -- the Internet will be overrun by a million versions of that ubiquitous Michael Jordan Crying Meme.
Heat's winner-take-all finale: [See above for update] Miami at Boston tonight at 8 is, for the Heat, all but winner-take-all for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Miami nails down the No. 3 seed and home-court with a win (or with an Atlanta loss), but otherwise will not have home-court advantage. Miami would be the fifth seed if it and Charlotte lose and Atlanta wins. Miami would be sixth seed if it loses and Charlotte and Atlanta both win. Only one game separates Heat, Hawks, Celtics and Hornets in a scrum for the 3-through-6 seeds that has the brain smoking with tiebreaker permutations. After winning in Detroit last night, winning again tonight at Boston is a tall request. Celtics are 2-0 in series this season. Miami is 8-8 in the second game of back-to-backs but that includes four straight losses.
(Almost forgot: Houston and Utah go down to the final day still battling for the eighth and last playoff spot in the West, but nobody cares).
Which piece of NBA history would you rather see live tonight: Kobe Bryant's final game? Or Golden State's record 73rd win? If you could magically materialize in either arena, where would you rather be?
Poll result: Very mixed feelings over Arison in Carnival/Cuba connection: In the previous blogpost we asked, "Does Carnival offering cruises to Cuba negatively impact how you view Heat (and Carnival) owner Micky Arison?" And when last we checked it was 47.5 percent yes, 48.9% no and 3.6% undecided. You may still vote.
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