LeBron James, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant still leading the 2014 playoffs in scoring


Will LeBron James score 46 points and/or lead the Heat to victory in Game 5 on Sunday?

Either task will be difficult, and if LeBron accomplishes neither, Kevin Durant will lead the 2014 playoffs in points.

It would be just the fourth time a player led a postseason in scoring without reaching the Finals. The other three:

  • 1990:Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
  • 1989:Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
  • 1961:Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers

Perhaps even more remarkably, LeBron is poised to become the only player in the Finals to rank in the top four of scoring this postseason. Here’s the current leaderboard:

1. Kevin Durant (OKC), 563

2. LeBron James (MIA), 517

3. Russell Westbrook (OKC), 507

4. Paul George (IND), 429

5. Tony Parker (SAS), 384

6. Tim Duncan (SAS), 360

7. Dwyane Wade (MIA), 345

8. Manu Ginobili (SAS), 311

Will Parker score 45 points Sunday? I’d even bet against him scoring 45 in the next two games combined if the series reaches a Game 6.

Here’s how frequently four, three and two Finals players have cracked the top four in postseason scoring:

  • Four: 30
  • Three: 26
  • Two: 11

Only one would be a first.

Here’s a full history of the top four scorers in each postseason.

NBA champions are blue. Finals losers are orange. LeBron – whose fate has yet to be determined – is green. Those who didn’t reach the Finals are white and therefore don’t appear here.

To view a larger version with the ability to mouse over players and see more info, click here.


The Spurs, if they hold on to win the series before one of their players climbs the scoring ranks, would become just fifth NBA champion without a player in the top four of postseason scoring. The four to do it:

  • 1990 Detroit Pistons
  • 1963 Boston Celtics
  • 1961 Boston Celtics
  • 1960 Boston Celtics

Maybe this says something about the value of balance and teamwork. Maybe it’s just coincidence.

I’m not sure. I just found it interesting.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
1 Comment

James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.