Heading into the playoffs, everybody wants to avoid playing the Oklahoma City Thunder. Photo by Jeff Lewis Possible first round series to keep an eye on; Derrick Rose’s dilemma; and the Nets fined $50,000 for Jay-Z locker room visit.By Michael Brown, Sentinel Sports Writer Potential Playoff Series Of course, as is customary in the NBA, the marquee teams with the glamour superstars will get prime time spots on the networks carrying the playoffs, but there may be a few series off the radar that are just as entertaining.Last week, NBA fans got a bit of a preview when Oklahoma City defeated the blazing hot Denver Nuggets twice.Kevin Durant and company didn’t pay any mind to the fact that Denver had just beaten the Lakers convincingly at Staples Center. In fact, the Thunder one-upped the Nuggets and snagged their own win at Staples Sunday evening.Despite the two losses, Denver’s still intriguing because of their Tar Heel 1-2 punch at point guard.Anytime a team can put Tywon Lawson and Raymond Felton on the floor, they’ve got a punchers chance.If this likely pairing takes place in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in a four-five match up I’ll take Oklahoma City, but expect a seven-game scuffle.Whoever wins will present problems for their second round opponent.Another series to keep an eye on in the west could be No. 1 seed San Antonio and eight-seed Memphis.This series won’t be interesting from Memphis pulling the upset standpoint, but don’t be shocked if it takes the Spurs six or seven games to eliminate the Grizzlies.Both teams split four games during the season, each winning both home games.What’s intriguing is that Memphis won both of its games against the Spurs in March, without Rudy Gay, who was lost for the season due to injury.For whatever reason, Memphis’ Tony Allen, known as a defender, seems to get bitten by the scoring bug when he plays the Spurs. Allen scored 23 points during the March 27 win and 20 when the Grizzlies beat the Spurs March 1.And despite his uncharacteristic scoring, Allen doesn’t negate the other end of the floor. He gives the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili all sorts of problems with his physical brand of play.Zach Randolph presents a ton of problems for the Spurs as well. Ultimately, Tony Parker’s play and Memphis’ inattention to defense could lead to their exit.At press time (Monday, April 11) New York was in the midst of a seven-game win streak.Since trading for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have been consistently inconsistent.I’m guessing they won’t advance past the first round, but whether they face Miami or Boston, you can bet it will be a fun series visually.The Knicks will be worth the watch and may even pull out two games. Stranger things have happened.Are the Bulls For Real? As I scanned the ESPN, Yahoo! Sports and NBA.com websites throughout the past week, the resounding answer seems to be “yes.”That’s funny because if you would have asked any of the pundit’s a mere one-month ago, most of them were still sticking with Boston.Well, I like this Bulls squad. Derrick Rose is my MVP and I think they’ve moved ahead of Boston as the NBA’s best defensive team.However, I’m not buying into the hype.And for good reason. That reason: Derrick Rose.Yes, my MVP pick can’t shoulder a team and carry it to the NBA Finals. It’s not because Rose isn’t the truth. He’s been that since he was an 11th grader.But I’ll stick with recent history, and history has shown me that teams led by point guards as the leading scorer don’t win titles.Allen Iverson guided Philadelphia to the Finals, but wasn’t good enough to carry them over the hump. Isaiah Thomas stood at 6”1, but although he led the Pistons in scoring at times, Joe Dumars was arguably his equal at two-guard.Aside from Iverson and Thomas, the past 20 NBA championships have been won by guys with names such as Bryant, Jordan, Duncan, Olajuwon and Boston’s Big Three.Scoring point guards are nice to have, but they aren’t a necessity. I’m a huge Rose fan and he may be the exception. He’s that good. But I’ll have to see it before I believe it.Jay-Z and New Jersey Fined $50K The NBA handed down the fine last week after cameras showed New Jersey Nets Minority Owner Jay-Z in Kentucky’s locker room after the Wildcats clinched a Final Four bid.The Nets received the fine because NBA rules prohibit team personnel from having contact with players who are not draft eligible.In the grand scheme of things this fine doesn’t mean much. Jigga probably blows 50 stacks on a routine shopping outing with his equally super talented wife, Beyonce.But c’mon Jigga, get your priorities in order.Instead of hobnobbing with the ‘Cats, that time needs to be spent trying to convince Deron Williams that he shouldn’t exit stage left after next season when he’s a free agent.There’s no one in that Kentucky locker room as Williams, although I think Terrence Jones can be an impact player one day.Jay-Z’s not is targeted. Boston’s GM Danny Singe was fined a few years back for sitting next to Kevin Durant’s mom while the future No. 1 overall pick played at Texas.I have a question for the hyper-sensitive NBA front office folks. If one of these kids attends a Jay-Z concert is that “tampering?”
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