Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat

Report: Kevin Durant to be named league MVP

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Kevin Durant will be named the NBA’s MVP this week, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

The news comes as little surprise, as Durant was widely expected to take home the award, particularly after a transcendent stretch where he averaged close to 36 points per game during the month of January, and recorded an historic streak of scoring at least 25 points per game in 41 straight contests.

The report was published in advance of Game 7 against the Grizzlies, and while the Thunder were favored heavily, there was of course a chance that there could be an awkward award presentation should the Grizzlies find a way to pull the upset.

It had been widely anticipated throughout the league that Durant would earn the award for the first time in his career. The most likely scenario is a Monday or Tuesday news conference and a pregame ceremony Tuesday or Wednesday right before Game 1 of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, provided that Durant’s Thunder win their Game 7 at home Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

If the Thunder lose, chances are fans will have to wait a bit for the most uncomfortable MVP news conference since Dirk Nowitzki’s in 2007. He was given the award after the Dallas Mavericks, who went 67-15 that season, were bounced in the first round by the Golden State Warriors.

Durant’s accomplishments this season, along with at least a small amount of voter fatigue where LeBron James was concerned, made this award a relatively easy decision.

Durant becomes the first player since Allen Iverson in 2001 to win both the scoring title and the league MVP in the same season. Durant led the league in scoring with an average of 32 points per game, and did so by a wide margin — Carmelo Anthony was second on that list, finishing with an average of 27.4 points per contest.

We all had Durant winning with James finishing second on our nonexistent ballots, and while this announcement was somewhat expected, it’ll be interesting to see who ended up finishing third in the voters’ eyes when the official results are released.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.