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The NBA Finals Threat List

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Right now, the Thunder are closing out on the most disappointing month of the season. They looked near unstoppable in December, but followed it up with a clunker of a January. It wasn’t disastrous by any stretch of the imagination, but there were definitely a couple of embarrassing losses early on. Furthermore, the long six game road trip cost the team their Western Conference lead.  But, above all, the trip told us that our beloved team is definitely beatable, and that the road to the championship can be long and arduous.

So, who, exactly, stands in our way? And what chance do we have of beating them? Here’s the top 5. Keep in mind that this is a brief overview and that I’m ranking the teams in order of the likelihood that they win the title, not their particular skill against the Thunder.

Honorable Mentions: The Bulls and Warriors are possibilities, but their fate depends on the return of Derrick Rose and Andrew Bogut, respectively. Until then, it’s impossible to know how good they’ll be. The Grizzlies are in the conversation, but we’ve seen this same team falter in the past two years.  Beyond that, the faults are obvious. The Pacers have no bench, the Hawks can’t get to the line or rebound, and the Nuggets have no star to lead them.

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5. New York Knicks

Performance vs. Thunder: 0-1 in 2011-12 season.

Positives: The Knicks are a perfect combination of star power and experience. Even the most pedestrian NBA fan will recognize most of the guys that play on their roster, and all of them are contributing productive roles on the team. They also have an excellent combination of extremes. You’ve got offensive juggernauts like J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony, but you’ve also got defensive stalwarts like Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton.

Negatives: Because the Knicks have so many stars, personality conflicts are bound to arise. (Fire extinguisher, anyone? Melo-KG, anyone?) Furthermore, the team’s been in a pretty big slump lately. It was thought that Mike Woodson would be able to get this team fired up on the other end of the floor, but there are definitely nights where they resort to outscoring opponents. They just keep pressuring the ball and leaving players wide open or switching on screens, causing dire mismatches that result in easy points. Finally, this team plays a lot of close games and generally lose. This is a combination of Woodson’s inability to make on the fly adjustments and bad shot selection from the Knicks’ stars.

Final Verdict: Dark Horse. Anything with this team is a gamble, really. I could see them winning the title just as easily as I could see them getting knocked out of the first round. But if they were to get into a NBA Finals series with the Thunder, I’d have to give the Thunder an edge. They don’t really have a defensive answer for Durant or Westbrook, even if their fast paced game will hurt the production of Ibaka. The only way I could see them winning is if they were able to somehow break things open down low and keep a healthy roster.

Kendrick Perkins and his wife were involved in an altercation at an Oklahoma City nail salon…

Earlier this evening, KOCO Channel 5 aired a video of Vanity Perkins involved in a skirmish at an Oklahoma City nail salon. We first heard rumors of the altercation in early January. The emails came within a few days of each other. Both contain some hearsay and probably a few factual errors, but they give you an idea of what may have happened:

Ogle Mole One:

Heard a story that Vanity Perkins threw a fit at a nail salon near Home Depot at Quail Springs Mall. She wouldn’t pay for botched job, they locked her inside so she would pay, she calls Kendrick, he shows up and knocks over carts and throws nail polish, now Perkins are pressing charges for false imprisonment or something. Nail owner has it all on tape and is pressing charges for damage.

Ogle Mole Two:

You guys may have already run a story about it but have you heard about Kendrick Perkins and his wife’s confrontation with a local nail salon a few weeks ago?…

Kendrick’s wife went to get her nails done and the tech that was doing her nails messed one up and his wife wasn’t happy. So they fixed it to her liking & everything was good. Until his wife refused to pay for the services because they messed up her nail. Owner told her they fixed it and that she was going to pay. Situation escalates to yelling. So she calls Kendrick to the salon and he shows up and continues to yell saying they aren’t paying for the service. Not sure if this is true but heard the Perkins are suing. Not sure of the nail salon name either. I just heard that the salon is around the quail springs mall area.

Me: Someone else just emailed me about this. Word must be going around. I may have to swing by the nail salon.

Yeah it is getting around. I just heard from my wife that the lawsuit by Vanity Perkins is real. The mother of her friend I mentioned earlier was in the salon the day the police and FBI agents showed up to the salon to do some investigating for the lawsuit. Apparently she is suing for assault. Vanity is saying that the woman Asian owner held her down on the ground during their argument. Best part about the lawsuit, the Perkins didn’t know that the nail salon has security cameras and picked up the whole confrontation showing their was no assault and that Vanity instigated the whole thing and was in the wrong. I hope you figure out which nail salon it was since I still cannot figure that one out. Hope this helps.
P.S. During the argument, Vanity screamed out “Don’t you know who I am?” like it was going to get her out of paying the nail tech. This whole thing is over a $25 nail service. Makes it even worse.

For what it’s worth, Kendrick Perkins still has about $20-million left on his contract with the Thunder. If your husband makes that kind of cash, you should probably go ahead and pay for your crummy manicure.

Anyway, thanks to catching the flu, forgetfulness and a general irrational fear of walking into an Asian nail salon, I never followed up on the Mole emails. It was on my list of things to do, but I just never got around to it. However, at least I asked Kendrick about the incident during a January 15th chat via Twitter:

I’m not sure why he didn’t answer my question.

Although we never followed up on the report, it has finally made its way to the “legitimate” media. KOCO Channel 5 has landed video footage of the incident, an interview with the shop owner, and in the process, rationalized my fear of Asian nail salons. Here’s the clip and news story from Channel 5:

Thunder Mid-Season Report Cards

Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.

The NBA Season is at its halfway point, and that means it’s time to bust out the mid-term report cards. In other words, it’s the one you didn’t want your parents to see. Report cards posts on their own aren’t very fun, so I spiced things up by comparing every player’s performance to one of my favorite (or least favorite) video games. And if some of you are non-gamers, don’t despair! This list is easily understandable if you can’t tell the difference between a Pac-Man and a pizza.

Also, keep in mind that the scale goes as so:

A- Far Exceeded Expectations

B- Exceeded Expectations

C- Met Expectations

D- Fell Short of Expectations

F- Fell Far Short of Expectations

In other words, if I ranked player X above player Y, it doesn’t necessarily mean that player X is better than player Y. It just means that player X played farther above his own expectations. Anyway, on to the rankings, which were done in order of points per game.

Kevin Durant: A+

Video Game Comparison: Pac-Man

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Kevin Durant, and you can’t go wrong with Pac-Man. The innate appeal of Pac-Man is that it’s easy to pick up, and it never gets old. With something like Galaga, you might get tired of hammering the button. With something like Super Mario, you get to the end of the level, and the game is over. But with Pac-man, you can just keep playing to your heart’s content. It gets harder, but the game remains the same. Similarly, Durant always gets better, but his game has remained incredibly consistent and solid. He’s made tweaks here and there, but made sure to never mess with the classic formula. Mr.4th Quarter has bailed us out of more situations than I can count, and he almost never ceases to amaze.

Russell Westbrook: B

Video Game Comparison: Sonic

It’s always hard to put a finger on Westbrook. His game constantly changes, and you never really know what direction it’s going to take next. But one thing that doesn’t change is his fearlessness. I feel the same way about Sonic. Some of Sonic games are absolute gold, while others are absolute garbage. The creative direction in those game changes so much that it’s hard to really get a feeling of consistency anymore. The same goes for Westbrook. While the good definitely outweighs the bad, he’s still the enigma of a player he always was. Still, it’s hard not to think of Sonic when you think of Westbrook’s hard-headedness and reckless abandon.

The Best Performances By Thunder Injury Replacements

Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.

It’s been another fantastic week, and no one can deny that. The Thunder have swept all four of their games, including revenge in Minnesota, another pounding of the Lakers, squeaking by Portland at home with some late defense, and a KD-Russ scorefest against Phoenix. But those wins have been more unorthodox than you think.

During the game against the Trail Blazers, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha were sitting out with injuries. Those injuries resulted in training camp invitee DeAndre Liggins being thrust into the lineup. Liggins played like a man possessed, exhibiting lightning quick defense, excellent offensive awareness, and an impressive ability to pressure.

His performance got me thinking. What are some of the better performances that we’ve seen from injury replacements in the Thunder’s past? Obviously, the Thunder have been blessed with an almost totally injury-free roster, which has been a huge contributor to their success. However, on those rare occasions where somebody gets the flu, contorts a quad, or drinks too many shots with Wayne Coyne, a benchwarmer has had to step in. Some have failed, but others have flourished.

This post is a chronicle of some performances you’ve probably forgotten. The list here focuses on performances in individual games, rather than over a long period of time. And it doesn’t necessarily focus on who replaced who tit-for-tat, but rather who was able to step up and fill the injured player’s role.

What in the world is wrong with the Thunder?

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Hello once again fellow Thunder fans! The Thunder have gone 2-2 in the past week, and it’s definitely one we’d all like to forget. Not only did the Thunder drop a game to former head coach P.J. Carlesimo, they also dropped a game to the worst team in the league. Then again, if the Thunder’s worst week this season involved two easy wins over crappy teams, then it tells you that the Thunder don’t have a lot to complain about.

Still, we’re Oklahomans, and we like winning. So let’s put our stethoscopes on and diagnose what’s wrong with the Thunder as they are now.  To keep things fun, I’m going to add a hilarious picture of each person I’m complaining about. You know, for good measure.

Scott Brooks Isn’t Very Creative With Rotations

It’s hard to hate on a guy who brought the Thunder from a lottery team to a title contender, but man, Scott Brooks really loves putting in certain guys. Barring injuries, the Thunder have had the same starting lineup since February of 2010. The manner of rotations has stayed the same as well, with Kevin Martin taking Harden’s minutes, Thabeet getting Mohammed’s minutes, and Jackson getting Fisher’s/Maynor’s minutes. But not every player is the same, and as such, replacements with different skillsets shouldn’t be given the same roles as those guys.

What should Scott Brooks do? Well, there’s tons. He could stop abandoning Martin, who can’t score on his own, with the bench. He could let Ibaka play with the bench, to add more scoring power. He could use Reggie Jackson alongside Russell Westbrook, and have them develop a repertoire. He could put in Collison when Perkins isn’t suited to a particular opposing center. The list goes on, but I’d really like to see some more on the fly decision-making. It’s what helped Carlisle win the championship with the Mavericks in 2011.