In My Opinion

Greg Cote: Miami Heat swats away Pesters to return to NBA Finals

 
 
Miami Heat's LeBron James makes contact with Pacers guard Lance Stephenson while defending him during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on May 30, 2014.
Miami Heat's LeBron James makes contact with Pacers guard Lance Stephenson while defending him during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on May 30, 2014.
Charles Trainor Jr / Staff Photo

What South Florida Sports Fans Are Talking About

1. HEAT

Miami ousts Indiana in rout to reach fourth NBA Finals in a row: The double-champion Heat clobbered the Pacers 117-92 on Friday to win the Eastern Conference, and awaits San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals. Spurs or Thunder would bring class and competition, a pleasant change from Lance Stephenson and the pretender Pacers.

2. MARLINS

Fish, Braves in weekend battle for first place: Miami and Atlanta wrap up their three-game series here Sunday after entering the weekend tied for first in the NL East. No, you are not hallucinating. It’s June and the Marlins are contenders. Aside to Jeffrey Loria: Surprise us. No, shock us. Be a buyer for a change. Add a veteran starting pitcher.

3. DOLPHINS

Offseason work continues, along with doubts: Betting over/under on Miami wins this season is 8, or .500, meaning more mediocrity is expected. Meantime, the team holds more offseason workouts this week. Question: If the Dolphins held practices during the Heat playoff run but nobody was paying attention … would they still make a sound?

4. NHL

Rangers after first Stanley Cup win since 1994: New York is in its first Cup finals since last winning in 1994, while defending champion Chicago and 2012 champ Los Angeles battled out West. That makes the Rangers the sentimental favorite. Hockey rule of thumb: If the Panthers have played for the Stanley Cup more recently than you, you’re due!

5. HURRICANES

NCAA playoffs under way as UM aims for Omaha: Miami hosts a four-team NCAA baseball regional this weekend, hoping to advance to a super regional starting in five days — likely against nemesis Florida in Gainesville. So there is the likely hurdle to UM’s first trip to Omaha since 2008 in search of its first national title since ’01: a moat filed with Gators.

Hot list

Today: NBA Finals rematches. A Miami matchup against San Antonio would be the 13th championship rematch in league history, but the first in a long while. The five most recent:

Years Matchup Winners
1997-98 Bulls-JazzBulls/Bulls
1988-89 Lakers-PistonsLakers/Pistons
1984-85 Celtics-LakersCeltics/Lakers
1982-83 76ers-LakersLakers/76ers
1978-79 Bullets-SonicsBullets/Sonics


gcote@ MiamiHerald.com

The contrast in sounds is what struck you as the Heat eliminated the Indiana Pesters to become the first team in almost 30 years to advance to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.

The Miami arena was full of joyful noise as the Heat raised the Eastern Conference trophy, while all around South Florida fans cheered.

Meanwhile, on the Pacers’ postgame ride to the airport, the only sound you heard was a soft puff of breath as Lance Stephenson blew into the bus driver’s ear.

One more contrast:

LeBron James was being compared to the greatest ever, as Indiana coach Frank Vogel referred to his team losing to “the Michael Jordan of our era.”

Meanwhile, Stephenson was being compared to clowns and buffoons.

As Miami awaited San Antonio or Oklahoma City as an NBA Finals opponent, the Heat-Pacers Eastern finals may be summarized thusly:

Lance Stephenson’s most notable contribution to the series and his strategy in it both can be described by the same phrase.

He blew it.

• Only 11 days now until the start of the soccer World Cup. Brazilian officials, ramping up preparations, have formed a committee to look into stadium construction.

• Mexico soccer coach Miguel Herrera has banned players from having sex during the monthlong World Cup. Coincidentally, my wife has issued a similar ban.

• Dolphins stadium will host upcoming England-Ecuador and Ghana-South Korea World Cup warmup matches. England will draw big. Not so sure about Ghana, unless Miami has a teeming “Little Accra” of which I am unaware.

• Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer agreed to spend almost $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from disgraced racist Donald Sterling. Ballmer met all the NBA criteria: 1. Plenty of money. 2. Loves black people!

• The Clippers immediately are a glamour destination for free agents. Not because Sterling is out or it’s L.A. Because the new owner ridiculously over-pays.

• Exclusive: A friend of a friend of a close associate of LeBron James indicates LeBron will re-sign with the Heat this summer unless he changes his mind, according to the former neighbor of an undisclosed source.

• Favorite Serena Williams stunningly was ousted at the French Open. May be just as well. She could use a little humility. It’s a fine line between unbeatable and unbearable.

•  John Daly estimated he has lost $55 million gambling. After giving that some thought, he immediately wagered $10,000 on the “over.”

• California Chrome would be first Triple Crown winner since 1978 if he wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Eleven other horses since ’78 had a shot at it entering the third leg but fell short. I’m hoping the drought ends. Mainly because I’ve invested big in media references to “Chrome shines.”

• The Dolphins’ Mike Pouncey said he does not need NFL-mandated counseling just because he was involved in last year’s Bullygate scandal and sent an inappropriate tweet during the recent NFL Draft. Real world, welcome Pouncey, won’t you?

• A Twitter campaign by the Washington Redskins that used the hashtag #RedskinsPride backfired when thousands tweeted outrage over the nickname. What’s next on social media? #DonaldSterlingSupporters?

• Three contestants on Jeopardy all failed to name the college Johnny Manziel attended. Fittingly, playing in the NFL black hole called Cleveland tends to also make players disappear from public consciousness.

• The Dodgers’ Josh Beckett this week pitched the 283rd no-hitter in baseball history and 20th since 2010. If a definition of “news” is something unusual, hasn’t the no-hitter become barely newsworthy?

• The MLB draft is Thursday. This is where your favorite team selects players you’ve never heard of who may or may not make it up to the big leagues in around five years.

• Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is grateful that the person who stole his scooter returned it after a plea on Twitter. You’re welcome, Hunter. You’re lucky I happen to follow you.

• OWW! I just got hit with an errant pitch by 50 Cent.

• Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): “Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said that, as a child, he’d snack on Friskies dry cat food.”

•  Tiger Woods, still ailing, announced he would not play in the U.S. Open starting June 12. CBS Sports executives wept openly at a wake for their ratings.

• Golf star Rory McIlroy dumped tennis star fiancée Caroline Wozniacki in a three-minute phone call after their wedding invitations already had gone out. One word for that: McIlrude.

• The latest litigation against the NFL involves painkillers and medical care. It’s funny to me. While playing, these guys led the league in play-with-pain machismo. After playing, they lead the league in class-action lawsuits.

• Bleacher Report has released its updated “WWE Power Rankings.” (Shh. Let’s not tell Bleacher Report that pro wrestling is fake.)

•  Parting thought: Golfer Phil Mickelson is being investigated in an insider-trading probe. The government suspects him of attempting to illegally acquire a U.S. Open title.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

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