Heat players watched last night’s Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Game 7 with a clear rooting interest they would never admit — Miami thoroughly dominates the Sixers — but knowing either opponent would be a huge underdog in the NBA Eastern Conference finals starting here Monday night.
Celtics or Sixers? That’s like telling a hungry pit bull he gets the toy poodle or the shih tzu. Fine with either, thanks. No wrong answer.
The Heat owns the 76ers, with an 11-1 record vs. Philly the past two seasons including a first-round playoff sweep last year. The Sixers are younger, healthier and more athletic than Boston and also are blessed with a strong bench. What they are not is a team with any individual players who really scare you. Miami matches up exquisitely with Philadelphia, which is so offensively challenged that “76ers” often reflects their point total.
Boston? The Celtics won the season series with Miami, 3-1, yeah, but don’t let that fool you. The wheezing Leprechauns are old, hobbled and don’t have the athleticism to run with MVP LeBron James and red-hot Dwyane Wade in a long series. Kevin Garnett still leads the NBA in scowling (the Alonzo Mourning Cup) but otherwise is a man in decline, as are limping Paul Pierce and the ghost of Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo must take over games for the Celtics to have any chance vs. the Heat.
No matter who won last night, then, the next opponent didn’t figure to give the Heat even as much trouble as the recently dispatched Pacers.
Celtics or Sixers? No problem.
That’s like telling me I’ll get either steak or lobster. And I’m fat ’n hungry.• Random Evidence is happy to return from a week’s hiatus. I spent the time off angrily yelling at my boss in the hopes it would work for me like it did for D-Wade.
• As Dolphins return to practice field on Tuesday, owner Stephen Ross said he thinks Matt Moore will start at quarterback this year, at odds with coach Joe Philbin’s call for an open competition with Moore, veteran David Garrard and top rookie Ryan Tannehill. Seems whenever Ross opens his mouth publicly, clarifications follow.
• Urban Beach Weekend is happening in Miami this long Memorial Day weekend. Or, as I like to call it based on all the rapper-wannabes: Beach Blanket Blingo.
• The Volvo Ocean Race yachts departed Miami after 11 days in port off Bicentennial Park, and not a moment too soon. I’d just about overdosed on breathless media prose reverently romanticizing the trials and travails of Heroic Man vs. Raging Sea, every story inspiring me to go out and book a cruise ship.
• That reminds me. The Volvo in-port race in Miami was won by Abu Dhabi. Not sure if that’s the name of a boat, a country or a person, but congratulations.
• The underappreciated French Open is getting under way. The bigger tennis majors, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, tease the French Open mercilessly whenever they get together. It’s how bullying started.
• Also now under way: the WNBA, for those basketball fans seeking a calming, sedative-like break from the excitement of the NBA playoffs.
• Miami Beach police arrested the Knicks’ J.R. Smith for an invalid driver’s license. He should have been arrested for his first-round performance against the Heat.
• And in other NBA news, as expected, coach Stan Van Gundy was fired by Dwight Howard. Wait. I meant fired by the Orlando Magic. Sorry, Freud.
• It was announced soccer superstar Lionel Messi would headline an international exhibition at Dolphins stadium on June 23. If I’m not mistaken that’s also the tentative date for the Heat’s NBA championship parade. Oops. No, I’m kidding. That would be presumptuous!
• UM has affirmed its conference allegiance to the Atlantic Coast Conference in response to rumors of interest in switching to the Big 12. Given the Canes’ recent ACC finishes in football and men’s basketball, fans are trying to decide if that is good news or not.
• Palm Beach sports radio station WMEN-640 is hiring Sid Rosenberg, who, other than drugs, alcohol and gambling leading to a history of erratic behavior, suspensions and firings, seems like a smart hire.
• Reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo (nee Leo Nuñez) has cleared a legal hurdle to rejoin the Marlins after serving an eight-week MLB suspension for his fake name. Not sure he’s learned his lesson, though. I hear now he’s answering to Gene, Gene the Saving Machine.
• Struggling at the plate, Marlins starting first baseman Gaby Sanchez was demoted to Triple A. Sanchez wasn’t even hitting his weight. Far worse, he wasn’t even hitting my weight.
• A Babe Ruth
• All these lawsuits and outrage by former NFL players over concussions and long-term effect on the brain. Um, did these guys never notice that football was a violent game with hard hitting? Or is it that they were coerced or threatened at gunpoint into playing?
• Former UM coach Jimmy Johnson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. J.J. was the most unfiltered, candid major coach South Florida ever had until Ozzie Guillen swept in and lapped him.
• With the London Olympics now only 61 days away, the tennis venue, Wimbledon, announced it would lift its all-white-clothing requirement for the event. Meaning Serena Williams has two months to design something hideously colorful.
• Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) folded after three seasons. League officials blamed their failed attempts to clone Hope Solo
• There is a PGA Tour golfer named Jhonattan Vegas. He is notable for having spent his entire life wishing his parents had spell-check the day he was born.
• Boca’s Morgan Pressel
• Isiah Thomas said his 26-65 basketball record was “not just cause” for FIU to fire him. I’d have fired Isiah not only for that record, but for him thinking that record wasn’t firing-bad.
• Boxer Manny Pacquiao slammed President Obama’s support of gay marriage, later clarifying to say, “I’m not against gay people.” No we get it Manny. You’re not against them, only their equal rights.
• You watch that big UFC 146 fight between Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir last night? Yeah, me neither.
• Pro beach volleyball event ends on Fort Lauderdale beach Sunday. That reminds me. Read that bikinis are now optional in Olympic women’s beach volleyball. I got excited. Then I found out they meant shorts could be worn instead.
• R.I.P., Paul Dee, a great UM athletic director and a better man.
• Parting thought: As the Roger Clemens steroids/perjury trial continues, jurors must weigh an untrustworthy witness’ testimony against an incredibly unlikable defendant. Cannot confirm the foreman asked the judge if it was possible to convict both men.
Visit Greg Cote’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com, and follow on Twitter @gregcote.