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Harden gets 21st triple-double, leads Rockets past Kings

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Thunder vs. Rockets Matchup Set for 1st Round of 2017 NBA Playoffs

Morey tweeted out a diagram showing an "MVP Zone" which shows the team's win rank on one side and the individual player's combined total points and points from assists on the other side. And in two of six categories, everybody voted for someone different. Only sitting downstairs, near courtside, live, can you appreciate the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet style of a whirring Westbrook.

Krawczynski: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee. Leonard is already a 2x defensive player of the year and him getting another one will automatically put his name in the record books.

Mahoney: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia.

Reynolds: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia. I don't really even think that is debatable.

James was also the Cavs' best defender that evening despite a couple of miscues late in the game. Harden, on the other hand, posted tallies of 20.5 points, 12.3 dimes and 7.3 boards per game against the Thunder.

Mahoney: Eric Gordon, Houston. Rockets F Ryan Anderson, a Sacramento native, has averaged 15.0 points and made 53 percent of his 3-pointers (38-for-72) in 12 career contests in his hometown. While Curry remains a star in the league, Golden State wouldn't be as successful if teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green weren't contributing to the effort. Which is why, unless he creates a new angle moving forward, Leonard's 2016 second-place finish in MVP voting may be the peak for him.

The voting may come down to the team for which each MVP candidate plays, and their success on the floor. Warriors might have two titles were it not for his suspension in last year's finals.

Rudy Gobert is the glue to the Utah Jazz.

Let us now take a closer look at each of this week's games to whet your appetite for them. Winning an MVP puts a player in an elite group that includes Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, and Wilt Chamberlain just to name a few.

"He's been unbelievable the way he's played, the way he's led", Donovan said.

Mahoney: Nikola Jokic, Denver. The pace of the game changes and defenses tighten up.

NOTES: Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns passed Kevin Love for the most points in a single season in franchise history.

Even if Harden has better teammates, he's the skeleton key that unlocks this Rockets team in all its glory. Yes, D'Antoni will win Coach of the Year. Engineered a terrific turnaround in Houston with his high-scoring brand of basketball and made a Rockets team that was a disappointment last season into one of the best in the West. This was Spoelstra's best coaching job.

Just another typical day at the office for the assassin-minded Russell Westbrook. At least four players have legitimate claims.

Nonetheless, James is probably the best player of the last decade and arguably one of the best of all-time.

Andre Roberson has proven he can contain James Harden.

Before Russell Westbrook put the competition to bed over the weekend, when his buzzer-beating game-winner capped off a performance in which he scored 50 points and got his record-breaking 42nd triple-double of the season, some National Basketball Association fans and media were calling the 2016-17 season the deepest Most Valuable Player race in recent history.

LeBron James did the unexpected. "They are both more than deserving".

Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs: Leonard epitomizes what the San Antonio Spurs organization is about, excellence in a quiet manner.

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