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The Thunder head to Philadelphia tonight to take on a very young 76ers team that is currently in seventh place for this year's playoffs. I think they have been one of the surprises this season, and I never thought Doug Collins would be relevant on the sidelines again. From the outside looking in, it doesn't appear that this 76ers team is dominant in any one area, but that they have bought into the system and formed tremendous balance across their starting line-up.  Tonight's game has a good chance to be very competitive.

Russell Westbrook About to Join Exclusive Company | NewsOK

Westbrook is only 36 points shy of 4,000 points in his career, a feat that would put him in extremely rare company.

Another random note on James Harden - since the All-Star break (which was really the first time I've seen Harden just kind of "go for it"), he is averaging 18.0 points, shooting 93.9 percent from the free throw line, and 51.0 percent from the field. 

Anatomy of a Franchise Moving to Another City | Standard-Examiner

Here is a good reflection from Supersonics fans on what the Sacramento Kings and possibly the New Orleans Hornets may be facing in the future. It has all the markings of a bad breakup where one side still doesn't really seem to understand how things that were once so good became so bad.

The Great Carmelo Debate | Slate

Here is a thought provoking piece on the place metrics play in the NBA, both as an advantage and as a limitation. It poses the question of, is there truly a way to quantify a player like Carmelo Anthony? A LeBron James? A Kevin Durant? You could probably make the case that statistics can only be tied to other statistics; that's why guys who score and rebound more than anybody else make the biggest paychecks.

You Can't Buy Team Chemistry | Hoopsworld

Chemistry is an illusive thing. Look no further than the Celtics from the past three years. In 2008, they had the Ubuntu chemistry in spades, and won the title. The next year, everything was a little off. In 2009-10, the chemistry wasn't with them until suddenly one day it was, and the Celtics almost won the championship with it.

Here is a good quote from Suns coach Alvin Gentry (an interesting spin on Justice Potter Stewart's famous phrase): 

 

"Somebody asked me to define chemistry. I said 'I don't know what it is; I can't define it, but I know if you don't have it.'"

 

More links after the jump.

Allen and the Plight of the Undervalued Defender | NY Times

OKC fans will cringe at this one, but Rob Mahoney points out the obvious about the Grizzlies' Tony Allen. He is a top flight defensive player who can take a player like Kevin Durant, who is taller and a much better shooter than most, completely out of his game. Allen alters the dynamic of how the Thunder go about trying to score. It's very impressive, and he's done it in every game the two teams have played this year, a big reason why the Grizzlies took the series 3-1.

So There Is Crying In Basketball | NewsOK

Here is a good quote from Scott Brooks on the emotions of the game:

"When you care about something, you can't turn [the emotions] off and on. Every team I've been on has cried. I'm not saying guys were inconsolable, couldn't contain themselves. You're emotional. You love the game."

Franchises, League Test "Big Three" Model in Pro Basketball | Cornell Sun

This is a good article on the "new" team-building model in the NBA. The writer points out that only OKC has seemed to have re-invented itself almost exclusively through the draft. For most teams though, the draft offers very little in terms of change, at least for the years when the best players can be had at their cheapest price tag.

NBA Puts Substance on Hold | Kokomo Tribune

This is perhaps the only time I'll ever link to a newspaper called the Kokomo Tribune, so here you go. I get the sentiment the writer is conveying, because multi-media advertising has become such a huge part of pro sports. However, I think he's longing for legend, not reality. Ever since David Stern began his work on the NBA, it has always been a player-driven league. Bird. Magic. Jordan. Shaq. Hakeem. Kobe. LeBron. Durant. These are the guys people pay to see. The strategy hasn't changed; just the way we consume it.

A Farewell to a Traded Celtic | Keene Equinox

Celtics fans are still struggling to say goodbye to Kendrick Perkins. The more I read stories like this, the more I hope that Perkins loves playing in OKC.

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