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Loud Links 5|5|11

I do wonder what the young Thunder pups will be doing during Cinco de Mayo, given that today is their off-day. I'd be willing to hazard a guess though - they're going to go to one of the guys' houses,  eat wings, and play XBox.

As for me, gosh, still three more days to go until Game Three.

Thunder Bench is the Star Behind the Stars | NewsOK

Mayberry writes a good piece on how Scott Brooks has learned to manage his bench. In a way, the bench play has been another positive byproduct of the Perkins trade. Before, Jeff Green used to be the guy who was responsible for the second unit offense. He did well in that role, but it had great limitation on allowing the rest of the guys, specifically James Harden and Daequan Cook, to flourish. Through most of the first half of the season, Cook only had a series of DNP's next to his name. But with a simplified rotation, Cook has now had 20 point games this season and knows that he can be called upon in key moments.

Russell Westbrook, You So Crazy! | GQ

Bethlehem Shoals chimes in on the player and person that is Russell Westbrook. If you're familiar with Shoals' now defunct FreeDarko site, you will know that guys like Westbrook always intrigue him. Before Westbrook, it was Agent Zero, the Black President, the Hibachi, Gilbert Arenas himself. Similar to Westbrook, Arenas had an asymmetrical approach to basketball and a gym rat mentality. They both present the dilemma of trying to decide between a Jackson Pollock and a Claude Monet. Which one gets both the team and the fan to the "right" place the easiest?

Ibaka Stands Tall With Students | NewsOK

Serge Ibaka made a surprise visit to the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, and quickly endeared himself to everyone. He seems like the kind of guy that would be good to have around if I ever were to explore a foreign country. Because he dunks well, you know.

Can't Help Falling in Love | Sports Illustrated

This is an excellent story on how the Memphis Grizzlies have been built, and includes a guest appearance by OKC GM Sam Presti. I love this quote:

"The Memphis Player is a little rough around the edges, hit a few bumps in the road, maybe ran into some legal situations. We love those guys." - Ken Bennett, the Memphis Tigers' chaplain and founder of Streets Ministries

Criticism and Stardom for Westbrook | Yahoo! Sports

Russell Westbrook is receiving a crash course on what it means to be an All-Star player. I'm sure it's frustrating both to him and the rest of the team to see the masses suddenly appear with pitchforks at the OKC Arena, when Westbrook is essentially doing what we've seen him do all season long.

More links after the jump.

Memphis Thwarting Thunder Offense in "Horns" Set | Hoopspeak

This post was written before Game Two, but I think it is still pertinent. Several Thunder players commented after Game Two that they just had to slow things down on offense so that they could see the plays develop. Using diagrams, we can see how the Thunder have gotten a bit overeager in running their offense, and the result is that plays don't materialize as they should. 

Bill Russell to Get a Statue in Boston | Ball Don't Lie

Boston Celtic legend Bill Russell is going to be honored with a statue erected in Boston. If any athlete deserves a statue, it is this guy.

Dwyane Wade Takes a Stroll Through Hamsterdam | Negative Dunkalectics

Everybody is a "Wire" fan these days. Not that I'm complaining.

Mavericks Awaiting OKC-Memphis Winner? | NewsOK

Tramel is getting WAY ahead of himself here, but I must admit I'm positively giddy at the thought of Dallas knocking out the Lakers.

Mavericks Run Around and Through Lakers | Mavs Moneyball

Be sure to follow the Mavericks' success at SB Nation's Mavs site. We did a Q&A a while back, and it's fascinating to watch a series unfold that I personally never could have predicted.