I was riding with James Harden for the MVP hard, before I finally flipped at the end of the season and switched to Russell Westbrook. That’s something I never do. I’m not saying I’m always right. Far from it. Well. Except in the NHL playoffs, I’m always right. And if you find that offensive, let me put it to you another way. I’m never wrong. When it comes to the NHL playoffs.
But no, I’m solid in my convictions. I’m wrong at times, and have no trouble admitting it or owning it. But I say what I mean, and I mean what I say, and before I say it, I’ve given in considerable thought; and I rarely changed my strongest convictions. And I strongly believed that James Harden was the MVP over Russell Westbrook because he was doing almost what Westbrook was doing, and doing it on a better team that had a much better chance of making a deep run in the playoffs.
I mean, sure, Westbrook was valuable. Valuable as hell. But you’re getting rolled in the first round; you’re not the most valuable player. But dude just kept freaking, night after night after night until he broke Oscar Robertson’s triple double record and did it on a night where he pumped in 50, hit the game winner from the parking lot and knocked out Denver in the process. At that point, I just couldn’t ignore any longer. So I flipped, from Harden to Westbrook.
And what happens when they go head to head in Game 1 of the playoffs. Harden wins round one decisively. Make it a 10-8 round.
And not only did Harden outplay Westbrook, but Patrick Beverley did as well. Speaking of Beverly, how tough is this dude. He gets absolutely flattened by a Steve Adams pick; a pick that probably would cost him two games in the NFL, and put just about any other dude Beverley’s size to sleep; but he pops right up, balling!
And that was pretty much the turning point of the entire game. That fact that Beverly didn’t even blink after getting run into and dragged by that tank, galvanized both this team and the entire building. That game ended the second he hit he floor.
As for Westbrook, I’m not saying one game wrecks the argument for MVP for Westbrook. But Harden going off and the Thunder losing in a short series does. And if they don’t get someone going other than Westbrook, it’s going to be a short series. Victor Oladipo is going to have to give them a helluva lot more than he did last night for them to have any chance because Russ playing hero ball every night might get them here, but it’s not going to be enough for them to advance. Same with Adams and Taj Gibson.
Oh, and now would be a really good time for the Munster kid to teach his team had to defend the pick and roll. And ask them how the hell they, the Thunder, could be the best rebounding team in the NBA during the regular season and get annihilated on the glass by Houston the way they did.
Then again, maybe they just don’t matchup with the Rockets. And from the Rockets’ standpoint, it really is a very simple game. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said it best “if they stay on the shooters, we’ll take the layups. If they rotate, then well take the 3’s. If you read the game right, you have to pick one or the other.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
Outplayed, outcoached, outworked, outhustled, outclassed; just one game, but an utter beatdown at that.