The guy most likely to win the NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, was bounced in the first round. He was pretty terrible against Houston, despite averaging a triple double (37 points, 11 rebounds 10 assists), because he played so poorly in the 4th quarter.
Westbrook shot 38 percent for the series, and 26 percent on 3-pointers, but saved his worst for the 4th: 14-of-49 shooting. The Thunder were eliminated in five games.
The guy who is likely to finish 2nd in the MVP voting, James Harden, mostly labored through a 2nd round series against the Spurs. The Rockets lost in six games, and nobody will even remember his rough series – 24 points, nine assists, four rebounds per game, all way down from his regular season – because all they’ll remember is the final game. At home, facing elimination, Harden was dreadful: 2-of-11 shooting, didn’t attempt a shot in the first quarter, and he finished with 10 points, seven assists, and six fouls. He tried to get his teammates involved early as the Spurs pulled away in an unforgettable blowout.
The guy who is likely to finish 3rd in the MVP voting, Kawhi Leonard, has had a very good postseason, but amazingly didn’t play in the clincher in Houston, and his Spurs won by 39 points anyway.
The NBA decided this year to save its awards celebration for after the season. Yikes. What a terrible miscalculation that will look even worse if LeBron leads the Cavs to the NBA title*.
Did they not consider how it’ll looking handing out the MVP to Westbrook days after LeBron played in the Finals? Westbrook will be the 2nd MVP in the last 35 years not to get out of the first round of the playoffs.
* Even if LeBron loses in the Finals, it’s still going to look bad, because we know he’ll play great, as always.