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Shannon Brown tweeted, “Ok let me put a end to this right now before it goes any further. I DID NOT SLEEP WITH @paugasol woman!!! First and last time addressing it!” Photo by Jeff Lewis
Dallas-OKC series begins, Bulls beat up the Heat and Shannon Brown’s twitter controversy.By Michael Brown, Sentinel Sports Writer Dallas-Oklahoma City Series Preview Before the season began, chances are, no one likely predicted the Mavericks and Thunder would compete to advance to the NBA Finals.But, it’s May, and here they are. The Thunder enters the Western Conference Finals after defeating Memphis 105-90 Sunday, while the Mavericks will attempt to continue their momentum after sweeping the Lakers.Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant proved during Game 7 against Memphis that he’s ready for the bright lights and pressure of the big stage.Durant led his team with 39 points, finishing 13-of-25 from the field. And it wasn’t just the fact that he scored, but the way in which he seemingly made baskets whenever Memphis mounted a run.Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook was Mr. Do-it-all. Westbrook finished with a triple-double (14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds).Westbrook’s play could push the Thunder past the Mavericks. His match up against Jason Kidd will be pivotal.Kidd, 38 years old, didn’t need speed during the semifinals against the Lakers, but Westbrook, 22, is a whole different ballgame.Westbrook’s explosiveness could cause headaches. Mavericks’ backup, J.J. Barea, stands at six-feet and is slightly built. Westbrook is 6-3 and plays physical.My prediction: When Westbrook attacks the basket the Thunder will win. When he doesn’t, they’ll lose. It’s that simple.Another key to the series will be the reserves. Dallas should be favored due to its nine-deep lineup, which features Jason Terry.The Thunder have talented reserves, however, they aren’t always consistent. James Harden’s their best reserve, and his contributions will be needed.The main match up, however, will be the Durant-Dirk Nowitski battle.They probably won’t guard each other much, but this could be a series that cements or destroys reputations. Durant has a chance to have his name mentioned with elite players such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.From a talent standpoint, Durant’s already there--but due to playing in a small market--he needs to seize national attention.Nowitski, although an all-star for several years, won’t shake the “soft” label until he wins a title. His team led the Heat 2-0 in the NBA Finals and lost.Fair or not, that’s what Nowitski’s known for. Another crack at the Finals will help repair his reputation.Memo to Miami: You Ain’t Done Nothing Yet That’s my response after they got thrashed Sunday in Chicago by the Bulls in Game 1, 103-82.LeBron James dramatically kneeled on the court after the Heat defeated the Celtics in Game 5 during the semifinals while cameras clicked away and the rest of his teammates celebrated like they had already won the Finals.I get it; both James and Dwayne Wade in recent years were eliminated by Boston. They clearly saw winning that series as clearing some sort of mental hurdle.However, now is the time to get over it. Mission not accomplished.During Game 1, James and Wade combined for 32 points and struggled from the floor.The Bulls’ physical brand of basketball and the length of Loul Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson bothered the Heat in the paint.Gibson’s facial dunk over a defending Wade was the perfect illustration of how the Bulls overpowered them.Overall, Game 1 suited the Bulls’ style. They won all of the vital categories.James and Wade weren’t able to play to their strengths, which is attacking the basket. Both combined for eight free throw attempts. Whenever they attempted penetration, players such as Deng and Carlos Boozer met them.Not only did the Bulls neutralize Miami’s ability to reach the foul line, but they also limited the Heat’s fast break opportunities, limiting them to 10 points.The Bulls also owned the rebounding advantage. Chicago grabbed 45 rebounds, including 19 offensively to Miami’s 33 total and six offensive rebounds.The Bulls shot under 45 percent, but if they continue to nab offensive rebounds, that’ll mitigate their poor shooting.Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau was the defensive architect in Boston the past three seasons. His defensive schemes frustrated the likes of James and Kobe Bryant.It will be interesting to see if the Heat’s coaching staff can match wits and adjust their game plan to lessen Thibodeau’s impact.Lakers Season Ends, Soap Opera Continues You know, it wouldn’t be Lakers off season unless some form of drama unfolded, particularly after they lose.This year’s culprit: Shannon Brown.This week he tweeted: “Ok let me put a end to this right now before it goes any further. I DID NOT SLEEP WITH @paugasol woman!!! First and last time addressing it!”Well, judging by that tweet, I hope so, Shannon.First things first, whether this is true or not, can we end the dry snitching on twitter? It seems like every time one of these twitter “controversies” is discussed, somebody’s telling somebody else’s business.By now, if you have the internet, you’ve read the rumors about Pau Gasol’s “issues.” He clearly was bothered by something during the playoffs, but during his exit interview last week, he dismissed the speculation.Look, I don’t know Gasol personally, and I’ll take him at his word, but I digress, let’s get back to Brown.I haven’t even heard or read about his name being associated with whatever Gasol’s real or imagined issues are with his girlfriend. Whatever rumors were out there would have died a slow death, but Brown single-handedly breathed life into them.Twitter’s cool, but it can be a nuisance when public figures fail to exercise discretion. This should have been handled privately.And on a basketball note, the Lakers granted permission to assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person to speak with other teams about coaching vacancies.With Phil Jackson now officially retired, assistants like Person need to secure employment elsewhere.However, the real story is Shaw. Golden State and Houston have expressed interest. If the Lakers want him to succeed Jackson, they sure are going about it in a strange way.To be fair, the season just ended, and the Lakers may not hastily want to make a decision, but if Shaw’s the “guy,” then what’s the holdup?My guess is we’ll be hearing Shaw’s name along with guys like Mike Dunleavy and Rick Adleman as possible successors throughout the off season. If Shaw wants the Lakers job, patience will be his ally.
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