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Loud Links 4|22|11

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We have almost reached the end of the first week of NBA playoff action, and I do think it has offered a fair share of scintillating moments, even if the majority of series are breaking down as anticipated. We're in store for another exciting weekend, but still have an off-day today before the Thunder are back in action. Let's take stock of what is going on.

Presti's Plan Bears Playoff Fruit | NewsOK

Tramel reminds us of the plan GM Sam Presti has put in place for a franchise. It has required patience, discipline, and yes, a little bit of luck.

Why OKC Is Grabbing So Many Offensive Rebounds | NBAPlaybook

Pruiti again provides some video breakdown about how the Thunder dominated the boards on Wednesday night. Of all things, I think this is the one thing that should concern the Nuggets the most - how they were not mentally checked in for most of the game. If that trend continues, the Thunder will be able to inflict more pain tomorrow.

OKC Has Nuggets Down; Can They Finish Them? | Daily Thunder

The Nuggets appear to be staggering, and the Thunder can bring the hammer down on Saturday. I think the game will be similar to the first; the challenge will be whether the Thunder can whether the emotional onslaught.

Eclipsing the Past | Hardwood Paroxysm

This is a good but gentle reminder that as amazing as the game is today, we would do well not to forget the past. Today's era of self-promotion does funny things to one's memory.

More links after the jump.

Durant Commits to Daily Bible Reading | NewsOK

Mayberry reports on this Good Friday an insightful look on how Kevin Durant has been challenged, and challenges himself, to grow spiritually. Even if you are not someone who shares the same faith as Durant, I think it is still admirable to see how a 22 year old is seeking to grow and mature as a person as well as a player.

What We've Learned So Far | Behind the Basket

Here is an examination of how the Western Conference playoffs have unfolded thus far. I may be mistaken, but I do think I detect a bit of bias against the Thunder. 

J.R. Smith Says The Nuggets Are Flat | Ball Don't Lie

If Nuggets uber-bench player J.R. Smith wasn't in the dog house already, then this public statement might put him there. The Nuggets are working to recover their regular season mojo, and an admission such as this to the public is going to undermine the team's chances at recovery.

Nuggets: Optimism vs Pessimism | Denver Stiffs

The Stiffs wrestle with the conflicting emotions of being down 0-2. I'll say this- I'd rather be the Denver Nuggets down 0-2 than, say, the Knicks who are down 0-2. At least the Nuggets have the talent to get back into it.

Stern Envisions Replay Official, Challenge Flags | CBS Sports

Berger writes about what Sterns sees as the next evolution of refereeing. I like the look to the future, but I have to say that his stance now is starting to sound eerily familiar to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, and that is not a compliment.

Is Love Worthy of MIP? | Sports Illustrated

If you weren't aware, the Timberwolves' Kevin Love was awarded the Most Improved Player award this season. It raises the question though as to whether a third year pro is the kind of player that should be winning this award. Even so, Love's production this year was pretty phenomenal.

DeMarcus Cousins for MVP | Negative Dunkalectics

The boys examine how stats can be used to say just about anything, and they give Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins some love. I personally think he may have a trajectory arc similar to Zach Randolph. Hopefully he'll figure it out a bit sooner though.