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OKC Loud Links: Finals Are Here, Are We Still Paying Attention?

Game One is set for tip-off tonight at 9PM. Will the allure of LeBron James and Jose Barea bring in the TV ratings that everyone hopes for? As for me, I'm just eager to actually watch some basketball again. 

Another Word on Perkins | Daily Thunder

Young gets the input of Zach Lowe on how he felt Kendrick Perkins played in the playoffs:

"I don't think it's exaggeration to say the Perk we saw in the post-season was about as bad offensively as any player can ever be." - Zach Lowe on Perkins

A Look At the Greatest Soldier/Baller Ever | Behind the Basket

This is a great look at Elgin Baylor, who put together one of the most ridiculous stat-lines in NBA history all the while finishing up his active military duty obligation during the regular season. Whatever you might think about Baylor's missteps as an NBA executive, never let it diminish such a response to call of duty as this.

Scouting the Mavericks' Offense | HoopSpeak

The Mavericks will bring their super-efficient offensive sets and perfect spacing to play against a Miami team that is so athletic and defensively aggressive that one of the true tests will be whether the Heat can destroy that spacing and timing.

Scouting the Mavericks' Defense | Hoopspeak

Here is the compliment to the above post, this time addressing the Mavericks' defense. Pay attention to their defensive focus, because out of all the things that surprised me about their beating the Thunder, perhaps the most was their ability to control the explosive Russell Westbrook.

Durant Looking to Bulk Up Next Season | ProBasketballTalk

Kevin Durant will be looking to pack on some muscle this off-season, and unlike last summer, he'll actually have the time and energy to do it. Also, keep in mind that KD is only 22; pro athletes really don't grow into their physical peak until they're about 27.

More links after the jump.

Miami Heat Made New Rules, Others Must Follow | Miami Herald

I would call this piece a brilliant bit of self-satire if I had an inkling that the writer was actually self-aware. I do not think this writer is actually self-aware.

Here is the Best Reason to Root For Mavs | Star-Telegram

That said, it's kind of hard to get on board this Mavericks-laden train either. I don't think the majority of the fanbase cares nearly as much about The Decision or any of that other stuff as the media would have us believe. Also, for some reason the writer brings up former NFL player Daryl Johnston. I like Moose, but that's kind of weird.

Shooting at the Wrong Basket: A Rules Investigation | Negative Dunkalectics

Here is a great look at one of the smallest slivers of idiosyncrasies that exists in the NBA rule-book, replete with some great footage of Nate Robinson and Shawn Marion almost making career-defining plays.

LeBron James Effect: Gotta Watch | ESPN

Wilbon writes about how James has become the focal point of the NBA once more. Time will tell whether he's ready this time for the media attention. There is a difference between someone saying they want the pressure (like LeBron) and someone who actually enjoys the pressure (like Kobe).

ESPN Announcers Have Nothing Against Thunder | NewsOK

Mayberry gets a few questions in for the ESPN/ABC lead announcing team of Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mike Breen. I think they acquit themselves well, but they steer clear away from addressing the constant Russell Westbrook chatter. They definitely hammered on the guy, but I felt like the criticism was directed more toward Westbrook's play in previous rounds than in the series against the Mavericks.

Free Gas Surprises Drivers |

Former NBA baller Larry Hughes surprised drivers over the weekend by giving away gas (or petrol, as they say across the pond). It isn't flashy, but I like Hughes' work in serving his community in a way that is easy to quantify.

J.R. Smith Busted For...Illegal Scootering | TMZ

The mercurial Denver shooting guard and sometime basketball quarterback was reportedly busted for illegal scootering, whatever that means. Stay on the straight and narrow, Skippy. 

OKC Just Getting Started | Sports Illustrated

The Thunder currently have 11 players under contract, so any changes to their roster will be purely at their own discretion. One of the several salient points in this post - the Thunder need Daequan Cook's skill-set, but do they actually need Cook to do it?