Both players are putting up statistics that many of us have never seen in our lifetimes.
The Rockets earned their 55th victory of the season with a 123-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Westbrook broke a 55-year-old triple-double season record with 42 this year, and he was the second player in National Basketball Association history to average a triple-double for the season.
Westbrook, an MVP front-runner with career-best averages of 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, was not made available to the media. So much emphasis has been put on individual performance, and aesthetically pleasing gameplay. "I liked that it was against really good teams, and I think that will be helpful for us to determine what our needs are and for our players to have a good understanding of what it takes to win and to be successful". For example, last week when the Phoenix Suns played the OKC Thunder and Westbrook had the chance to secure averaging a triple-double for the season, many Suns players observed that "he was passing up open shots late to try to pick up those remaining two assists" (foxsports.com). Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is noticeably absent from the conversation, despite having another incredible season. Harden just means the most to his team, and in comparison to Westbrook and James, it's led to more wins.
Westbrook broke Robertson's single-season record for triple-doubles by getting his 42nd on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets. This team is in some ways still in its building stage, perhaps ahead of schedule for where even the franchise expected, and has to show it's ready to take the leap after not winning a playoff series since 2012. And of course, on the other side, you have one of the most exciting backcourts in the league in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Strategy of trying to expose one weakness defensively is the elephant in the room. Koufos played Sacramento's first 66 games but has sat out the past four and seven of the past 12. Nine of the 15 teams were in the top 5 in defensive rating.
Here are five reasons they might be able to win it all.
There is no doubt that the Thunder are a lottery team if Westbrook was not on the roster this year.More news: Sergio Garcia wins the Masters, ends drought at the majors
Though it might not be ground breaking news, the numbers and history back up the Cavs making another finals appearance this year, but against who? Houston plays the Thunder, and the Clippers battle Utah. Small forwards Doug McDermott and Andre Roberson will also not play because of sore knees. Yes, but that is where the "valuable" in "Most Valuable Player" comes into play.
There will also be playoff debuts for two referees. The Jazz are eliminated. Also, as insane as it sounds, he's having his best year EVER. The Warriors are 1st in offense rating and second in defensive rating this season.
Be thankful you are not one of the media members who has to vote for the MVP victor this year.
The year after Kevin Durant left, who knew Westbrook could lead like this? He's averaging nearly 30 points per game at 5-foot-9, and has Boston battling with Cleveland for the No. 1 seed in the East. That Harden hasn't hit a randomly round number in rebounding isn't a flaw.
It's the most intriguing first-round series of the playoffs. If someone wanted to argue that Harden didn't just complete the great offensive season ever, it'd be tough to get around the fact that he put more points on the board than anyone else in history. While the stats are not as flashy as Harden and Westbrook, Leonard is a lock down defender who has a tremendous impact on the game past the stat sheet.