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The 2011 playoffs start today, thank heavens. While we still have another day to ponder over how OKC will show up in game one, at least we have something to carry us for the next 24 hours. Let's sit back and enjoy it.

Five Reasons to Hate the Nuggets | Daily Thunder

Young offers some reasons that we can learn to root against the Nuggets, but I, like he, find this a challenging proposition. Why? Because for 25 games, the Nuggets have embodied everything that we tend to love and root for in basketball. They have thrived on speed, teamwork, good defense, good coaching, and a great fanbase.

An Overly Verbose Take on the Nuggets/Thunder Series | Roundball Mining Company

RMC is another Denver Nuggets blog and their author here espouses a multifaceted account as for what he is to expect. I think that he hits on a great point - the series will not be as much about defending the Thunder as it is about how the Thunder defend the Nuggets.

Playoff Previews and Predictions | Behind the Basket

This is a great breakdown of all teams in the opening round, but the author does write this:

It will also be interesting to see if Denver's deep bench can capitalize on the OKC's weak second unit.

I do wonder if this statement is part of a general consensus across the league by people who haven't watched the Thunder play much. You and I know that it's completely wrong, but it's a forgivable misstatement because without extensive film review, how does anyone know who has a good bench and who does not?

Thunder Lose But Focused | NewsOK

Mayberry writes about the Thunder's mental state as they head into game one.

More links after the jump.

Top 10 Plays of the Season | Ball Don't Lie

Kelly Dwyer: Not so good at math. Still awesome.

First Round Playoff Predictions | NBA Playbook

Pruiti breaks down the entire first round, match-up by match-up. He likes the Nuggets, just not against the Thunder. I'd tend to agree.

BDL Preview: Nuggets vs Thunder | Ball Don't Lie

Dwyer offers his breakdown on what to expect in the series to come. I'm not going to jump to say that the Thunder can control this series throughout, but the Nuggets have some issues that may be too difficult to overcome.

76ers Coach Doug Collins: Perfect Blend of Teacher and Coach |

This is a great profile of NBA stalwart Doug Collins and his impressive work in the 76ers organization this year. I've always enjoyed Collins' commentary work, but I always thought that his coaching career was thwarted in a effect because of his relationship with the guy who in part helped build it - Michael Jordan. I think it's remarkable what a coach can accomplish with his players when the players know how much the coach cares about them.

Stern Cold: Losing the NBA | New Yorker

Here is a good look on how NBA Commissioner David Stern's negotiating tactics have both facilitated and hindered the labor situation in the NBA. In a way, Stern reminds me of an entrepreneur who builds a successful company, but then never understands truly how checks and balances work to make the company successful over the long term.

Sun Tzu and the Art of Playoff Basketball | Hoopspeak

Of course Mason would write a post as fine as this one. great work.

TrueHoop Smackdown 2011 | Wages of Wins

Here is the Wages of Wins' submission into the stat-geek competition hosted by TrueHoop's Henry Abbott. If you like sample sizes, win shares, and eFG, then pull up a chair.

NBA Playoff Preview: OKC Thunder | Negative Dunkalectics

In which the boys compare the Thunder to a song called, "The Shape of Punk to Come." Sweet.

Inside the Start of the Bulls' Championship Run |

This story is an excellent submission of oral tradition that explained how the Jordan-led Bulls happened. Sometimes the best way to tell a story is to get out of the way and let it be told, and that is what the author does here.