Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider on upset chances: “Going by head-to-head record might
underrate the Thunder, who lost the season series 3-1 to the Rockets but were close in every game, three of which were decided by three points or fewer. At the same time, because Oklahoma City plus-0.8 differential fell short of the team’s 47-35 record, Houston had a five-point edge in differential. Teams with an advantage between four and six points per game during the regular season are 45-4 in best-of-seven series since 2000.”
Zach Lowe of ESPN.com makes his picks: “Leonard isn’t the best player, or the most dominant scorer. He may not have an extra playoff gear on offense. He probably won’t win a postseason game by scoring 12 points in the final three minutes. But night to night, possession to possession, he was on par with anyone over the 82 games of this particular regular season. His two-way play gets the vote here, and I’m hitting “send” before it’s too late. Westbrook will win, and he will deserve it. It will be a celebration of his unrelenting will, and of the season that belonged to him. If Harden sneaks past him somehow, well, how can you argue against 29, 11 and 8? How can you ever argue against LeBron?”
Berry Tramel: “Everyone below my generation can’t recall Oscar. My generation can’t recall Oscar in his prime. Just know that his numbers were as stratospheric as Westbrook’s, and his attitude as intense. And thanks to Westbrook’s season, Oklahoma City knew that it was in the presence not just of greatness, but of regalness, with Robertson. The Chesapeake cheers were about as loud and about as long for Oscar as they were for Westbrook.”
Erik Horne: “The younger players on each side of the free throw line stood frozen as 36-year-old Nick Collison swooped in for a putback layup. When the Nuggets called timeout, Collison went over to the bench smiling, but Steven Adams’ smile was even bigger. Was it the last regular-season smile shared between Collison – the 13-year veteran in the last season of his contract – and the fans who chant for him nearly as loud as Russell Westbrook at Chesapeake Energy Arena?”
Told you that someone would do it: Here’s someone saying why Westbrook’s season is that impressive.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “There’s an argument against overthinking it. But in a season this incredible, with so much history being made, we can do with a little overthinking.
Harden did more than James or Leonard, and did what he did more efficiently than Westbrook. He led his team to more wins. He adapted more, made his teammates better, made his team better, even if they were better than Westbrook’s to begin with. James Harden is the most impactful player this season, and so, he’s the 2017 NBA MVP.”