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Loud Links 4|8|11

Here comes the sequel tonight for Nuggets Week. As of today, the Thunder are still slated to meet Denver in the first round, so I think that this game, despite having little effect on standings, is going to be intense. If the Thunder can win, it means that they gain the upper psychological hand. It also means that they'd inch closer to NOT having to play the Nuggets in the first round. The Nuggets want payback. I just want the game to start already.

How High Could OKC Move? | NewsOK

John Rhode breaks down the remaining scenarios. OKC would win a tie breaker against Dallas and Denver but not LA. The #2 seed is a pipe dream, but with Dallas fading, #3 isn't out of reach, even with only four games remaining.

Kendrick Perkins Believes in the Power of a Purposeful Tech | Ball Don't Lie

This story has been making the rounds, but to me it doesn't seem all that revelatory. League tough guys have been playing like this for decades. Some guys learn how and when it helps the team, and other guys (read: Dwight Howard) have not.

Nuggets Eager for a Rematch | Denver Post

I bet they are. If you look at their post-game quotes, they truly believe that they gave the game away against the Thunder earlier this week. I think it's true that neither team played up to its maximum capability, but I have a hard time giving the Nuggets the benefit of the doubt because this is what happens in the playoffs. Teams have to figure out ways to win when they aren't playing their best basketball.

Picking an MVP | Basketball Prospectus

Pelton offers to us for consumption his "Wins Above Replacement Player" statistic to provide a look as to whom he considers the most irreplaceable player in the league this season. Pelton says it well - the tragedy with this season's MVP debate is that it has turned all the stat-heads against Derrick Rose, and that is truly unfortunate because Mr. Rose is great for the game.

More links after the jump.

Heat - Knicks: The Series Everyone is Rooting For |

I admit, I'd be pulling for this series too. The star wattage would be bright, with four All-Stars squaring off in the first round. It might also cause a bit of delectable schadenfreude to see the chance at the Heat Index fall to zero.

Contenders, Pretenders, and Jared Jefferies | Brown Daily Herald

Here is a playoff preview if the tournament started today. He picks the Thunder in seven, but thinks Thunder-Nuggets will be the best 1st round series that the NBA has to offer.

NBA Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Lakers | Negative Dunkalectics

In which Kobe Bryant is compared to Ian Mackaye and Pau Gasol is compared to Guy Picciotto. This one is probably my favorite so far. 

George Karl Prefers Mavs Over Thunder | NewsOK

Nuggets coach George Karl went on the record to say that he'd have a slightly greater preference to playing Dallas in the first round. I'm with Mayberry; this is our first non-story of the playoffs. The reporter asked the question and Karl gave a cautiously hedged answer. I doubt it will be appearing on anyone's bulletin board.

New Orleans Hornets Clinch Playoff Birth | At the Hive 

Good for these guys. I had left them for dead when the team lost David West for the year, but just like Denver after it lost Carmelo Anthony, NO figured out a way to make the team keep working well. They're a half-game behind Portland and one game ahead of Memphis. It is doubtful that they can pull even with Denver, but in any event they will provide an entertaining matchup with whomever they play.

Blake Griffin Signs With Panini-America | Jacksonville Business Journal

Blake Griffin joins Kevin Durant as ambassadors for sports memorabilia giant Panini America. Once again I was duped into thinking Griffin was becoming a spokesman for a sandwich company.