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Westbrook vs Harden the highlight when NBA playoffs open

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James Harden

Aside from having better players nearly everywhere, most importantly, they have James Harden. At three is the Houston Rockets, the L.A. Clippers at four, the Utah Jazz at five, the Thunder at six, the Memphis Grizzlies seven and the Portland Trailblazers closing it out at 8.

This means that in an 82 game schedule, Westbrook notched a triple-double in over half of the games he played in.

3. Postseason officiating This is an aspect of a series (and of the postseason, in general) that is always tough to calibrate, because crews change from game to game.

Of all the National Basketball Association awards none have been better fodder for discussion than the most prestigious of them all: Most Valuable Player. Towns eclipsed the rebounds and 3-pointers thresholds on Wednesday. He averaged 21.2 points an 2.6 assists last season, and is now averaging 25.7 points and 3.5 assists. Oklahoma City has managed to muddle its way to the sixth seed in the West. Three Houston players led with 13 points apiece-Harden, Gordon and Clint Capela. Players who inspire a media narrative around doing something unexpected have an advantage, and that's where Leonard's MVP case is weak.

This "missing piece", as I will call it, is a big man whose primary contributions occur on the defensive end of the floor. Harden will be tasked with defending Roberson, allowing him to save a little energy and roam a bit to hunt for turnovers.

Including playoffs, Harden and Westbrook have faced off 16 times, each player walking away a victor in eight of those.

The 2016-17 National Basketball Association regular season will forever be remembered because Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook became the second player ever - and first since 1961-62 - to average a triple-double for an entire campaign.

As far as postseason tune-ups are concerned, the Houston Rockets opted not to nitpick at every blemish of their performance on Wednesday night, choosing instead to focus on readying for what should be a riveting showdown.

Heading into the postseason Russell Westbrook has had an wonderful season for the 2016-17 Oklahoma City Thunder. It has been filled with outstanding plays by one of a kind players in situations most people can only dream about as a kid.

Whatever Westbrook does, however, he makes many jaws drop in the crowd; the Thunder just do not reflect his excellence. Bad shots can result in long rebounds, which result in run-outs, which result in easy points. A few more games like that will certainly be welcome, but even if that's too much to ask, watching these two go at it should be quite entertaining. Sure, some of those losses have come on the road against a 1-seed, but not all of them. The playoffs start Saturday, with a series matching MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden the highlight of the first round.

With other first-teamers rested ahead of a play-off against the Houston Rockets, Domantas Sabonis added 19 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma.

The Rockets want that chance to send James's old team home, and that makes for a very entertaining series.

Robinson lost out to Hakeem Olajuwon, but The Admiral led the league in scoring (29.8, a career-high), usage rate (32 percent), win shares (20.0), value over replacement (10.6) and box score plus minus (10.9), a box score estimate of the points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team. He's still getting to the free throw line, but the Rockets are going to need more from Williams especially in those minutes where Harden is on the bench.

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