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.
Draymond Green goes down, Rockets rally to spoil Warriors ring night 122-121
Draymond Green is not the best player on the Warriors. He’s third or fourth best, depending on what you think of him vs. Klay Thompson.
But Draymond Green is the most important Warrior — what they do defensively does not work without him (and their small ball playmaking suffers as well). Without him, they are not the same.
That was on full display Tuesday night in the season opener — the night the Warriors got their 31-diamond rings and the latest banner went up at Oracle Arena. Green tweaked his knee in the third quarter and did not play in the fourth, and that’s when the Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 to come from behind and steal a win, 122-121.
Kevin Durant almost saved the day for Golden State with a baseline jumper as time expired — the referees called it good, but an official review showed the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer went off.
James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists to lead the Rockets. However, the real story was their revamped bench outplaying the Golden State bench — Eric Gordon looked like the sixth man of the year with 24 points, P.J. Tucker had 20 and shot 4-of-6 from three, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14.
The Rockets made their final push in this one with Chris Paul sitting on the bench. CP3 sat the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Rockets thrived with Gordon, Harden and an old-school (meaning, like last season) offense. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said that Paul was out there “playing on one leg” due to his knee problem, and Paul could miss more time.
Golden State was also without Andre Iguodala, who tweaked his back lifting weights over the weekend, according to coach Steve Kerr. Not having Green or Iguodala hurt the Warriors defense, especially against an elite offensive team.
Kevin Durant’s game winner waived off, he didn’t get shot off in time
Down one with 10 seconds to go, the Warriors were able to get Stephen Curry a good look at a three but he missed it. The ball was volleyballed around a little, and Durant got a hold of it and took a 15-footer along the baseline that the referees on the court ruled a game-winner — but when reviewed it left his hand a fraction of a second too late.
It was the right call. And this is a big boost for the Rockets as they try to find their identity going into a long season.
The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)
Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.
In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.
Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.
Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.
The Golden State Warriors' 2017 NBA championship rings. Designed by Jason of Beverly Hills. 11 carats, 36 blue sapphires, 31 diamonds pic.twitter.com/iGrcCRWd7J
It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.
Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.
Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.
According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.
Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.
According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”
Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.
A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.
The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.