Harden's triple-double helps Rockets over Wolves 123-118

NBA MVP Kawhi Leonard Le Bron James Westbrook Harden

Back then, it was Harden who wouldn't give up the rock feeling that his supporting cast isn't on a desired level. During his first season with the Thunder, Westbrook finished fourth in rookie of the year voting and was selected to the All-NBA Rookie First Team.

After Kevin Durant's departure to the Golden State Warriors last summer, the fate of the Oklahoma City Thunder was left exclusively in the hands of Russell Westbrook as the franchise looked to bounce back. If Westbrook's unmovable mass can help the Thunder steal a game on the road, all bets are off in what should be one of the playoffs' highest scoring series.

The Rockets know exactly who they are, and have embraced that persona. We've also included the number of first-place votes each player (or coach) received. He desensitized National Basketball Association fans to the triple-double, and eventually it became news when Westbrook did not accomplish the feat on a given night.

With Serge Ibaka on an expiring contract, the Thunder made a play to bring in Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and also secured the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis.

There's no way that Brogdon (10.2/2.8/4.3) or Saric (12.8/6.3/2.2) match up with what Embiid did, even taking into account the missed games.

So who have you got in the Spurs' first round matchup and how many games do you think it will take? "Our effort was there and we finally got everybody on the court tonight so that's the good thing". They are top offensive rebounding team, but other than that, the Thunder are an average team. Kris Dunn had 10 points with 16 assists.

But while Westbrook is still the extreme, triple-doubles in general are just not as unique as they used to be. The Thunder are in the playoffs because he played this well. He played only 18 minutes (scoring 5 points) in Wednesday's 111-105 loss to the Nuggets. It will be tough for OKC's bigs to defend a sharpshooting Houston lineup while the Rockets have no answer for the Thunder's bruisers in the paint.

"It has always been one of my personal goals to be on one of the All-Defensive teams".

It's a dream scenario and the Houston Rockets made sure to seize the opportunity.

"I think Russell is the catalyst", Rockets guard Lou Williams said.

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BOSTON BEST? The Celtics are a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2008, when they won their last National Basketball Association title.

Steven Adams ended the season in a rut, converting just 46.2 percent of his shots from the field in April.

FANTASTIC FORWARDS: James and Paul George have had tremendous battles in the both the regular season and postseason. The pair of former teammates could combine for a double-digit triple-double total, but this series will swing on the contrasting styles of play around them. Anderson scored 20 points or more for the 14th time.

He doesn't ignore three-point shooters for rebounds the way Westbrook does.

For Leonard, his standing below James, Westbrook and Harden simply came down to this: San Antonio is a machine. He's a crucial cog in this match-up as he'll take on Westbrook and try to limit his productivity.

He won't talk about opposing players before competing against them, instead relying on a convenient out if anyone asks about a star he might be going up against: "I haven't really watched them".

The expectations for post-Durant OKC were never great and it reflects on their ATS record of 45-36-1. Roberson is one of the league's best perimeter defenders and if he can impact some of Harden's fluid effortlessness, the series has potential to go down as a classic.

Golden State is predicted to meet Cleveland in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. Still, it's a bad streak. He's also the first to do so since Tim Duncan in 2001-02 season and 15th overall.

The Rockets took three of the four games against the Thunder but just about all of them were very close. The Rockets were dominant at home, winning 30 of 41 games, and the Thunder were three games under.500 away from Oklahoma City. Still, it's the first game.

Harden emerged as an MVP candidate, leading the Rockets to a league-high 117 points per game since the start of December.



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