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OKC Thunder Loud Links: NBA Finals Game Two Tonight

It is always interesting (especially when it is not yourself) to watch a fanbase go from, "This is our year! Yeah!" to "We're done for! We will be cursed for eternity and beyond" simply because their team had a bad game. But hey, that's what being a fan is all about.

Ways For Mavericks Bench to Improve | Mavs Moneyball

We can start with exhibit 1A as to why the Mavericks were held to three anemic offensive quarters in Game One. I think this post hits on one of the big keys - it looked like they were playing too fast. Specifically Jose Barea and Jason Terry never looked like they were in sync with the offense, but instead were rushing shots whenever they had an open look. This aspect is, of course, an offshoot of the Heat's great defense, but the Mavs must realize that the openings are there.

Mavs vs Heat: Game Two Preview | Peninsula is Mightier

Here is an eye-opening statistic:

The Heat has lost 14 consecutive regular season games to the Mavericks but has won 5 straight against them in the playoffs. 

Westbrook's Jumper, Then and Now | Daily Thunder

Young accumulates some visual evidence as to how Russell Westbrook's jumper has improved over the past three seasons. All told, what it points toward is that Westbrook is not a natural jump shooter. His shooting mechanics are still prone to go awry in a way that other young players such as his teammate, Eric Maynor, do not. 

Mavs' Defense Was Excellent, Offense, Rebounding Were Not | Dallas Star

Lost in the Mavericks freak-out is the fact that they did a serviceable job in slowing down the Heat. Through three quarters, the high-powered Heat had 65 points. On top of that, the trio of James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh played well. The margin was actually small, but then again, so was the Mavericks bench.

More links after the jump.

Dallas Shooters Go Cold, Or Was It the Heat? | ProBasketballTalk

I'm going to play the Maverick optimist and state that while I am impressed with the Heat's perimeter defense, I think that for the most part the Mavericks simply just missed a lot of shots. The Thunder defense against the Mavs was every bit as physical and tenacious as what we saw from Miami in Game One, but the Mavs simply made more open shots.

Shot Isn't Dirk's Biggest Concern | ESPN

Dirk Nowitzki's torn finger ligament will likely not impact his shot, but there are a number of other ways in which it could materially alter how Dirk approaches his game. On the other hand, it might also bring a higher focus to his mindset, which is clearly needed after the Mavericks' uneven Game One.

Miami's Offense Against Dallas' Zone | NBA Playbook

Pruiti takes a closer look at how the Heat were able to counter the Dallas zone. While it had initial success, eventually the Heat started to break it down with their outside shooting. LeBron James went 4-5 from 3-point range and Mario Chalmers hit several corner threes that made the Mavs shift out of it. I think we'll see it again in Game Two, but I think the Mavs will have to use it more judiciously and against specific personnel.

The Difference | Two Man Game

Mahoney writes about the margins that separated the Mavs from the Heat in Game One. He singles out Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler as two guys who have to do a better job on the boards to keep the Heat from limiting the Dallas offense.

Effective Age Snapshot | Painted Area

Here is a quick look at the average age of the Mavericks and how they stack up with other past contenders. You might be surprised to see that the Heat themselves are not too far behind.

Young Superstars Will Feel CBA's Sting | ESPN

Henry Abbott does a great job examining the possible scenarios that might play out when the league starts to shave off salaries and who will feel the pinch the most. 

Overnight Ratings for Game One Highest Since 2004 | Spurs Nation

Game One drew fantastic ratings that should have everyone excited for what is to come. However, it likely will not have much impact on the CBA negotiations, and I think that is probably a good thing. When an organization forecasts revenue streams, it is foolish to use a high point as the measure for future growth. All that will do is lead to further pain down the road.

Shaq Retires, Leaving Memorable Legacy | SB Nation

Ziller writes about Shaquille O'Neal's announced retirement. Make sure to read to the end, because after a grand send-off, Ziller links to his other send-off written as the man behind Sactown Royalty.

Shaq: My Personal Nightmare | HoopSpeak

Not everybody was a Shaq-fan. I too for a time was a fan of rooting against the big man, but that probably has more to do with my feelings about the Lakers than anything else.

Shaq Was Maddening, Spectacular, Magnetic | Sports Illustrated

Lowe juxtaposes the dichotomy of Shaq well. I struggle to even consider another famous person who captures as much of the emotions, both good and bad, as Shaq.

Rubio FInally a Wolf | Star Tribune

Ricky Rubio is finally making his way to Minnesota, two years after this original drafting. How he becomes integrated with the Timberwolves and whether he can alter the losing culture there remains to be seen.