Confrontation between MVPs, MVP’s Pain

In the first round of the playoffs, the last battle of two MVP candidates ended up in the most disparity of score so far. The Rockets have beaten the Thunder by 31 points more.

The victory or defeat of this series has actually nothing to do with the ownership of MVP. In the moment of jump ball, MVP vote has been basically completed. It was like an extra time for MVP candidates after 82 regular seasons. It does not determine who is MVP, but it will be the topic when people talk about MVP in the future.

As the news revealed now, Westbrook is far ahead of the MVP selection. An important reason for Westbrook to get MVP instead of Harden is Westbrook has fewer helpers. This is his winning advantage in the selection.

But in the game, this is exactly a suffering for MVP.

The Rockets just saved their first home match while the Thunder just lost their first away match

Westbrook got total of 22 points 11 rebounds 7 assists 9 turnovers and 6 for 23 in the first game of this series. The overlapping wall of the Rockets always stand in front of him, forcing him does jump shot difficultly at a distance, so he could not get into the restricted area near the basket. And in the opposite of him, Harden rely on the constant breakthrough to get points to adjust his state, and eventually got 37 points 7 rebounds 9 assists and only 2 turnovers.

The Thunder don’t dare to shrink the restricted area near the basket for cooperative defending like the Rockets, this is the difference.

The first defensive strategy of the Thunder is remove and replace when meet blocking, the center Adams’s defensive position is very close to up at opening, but are given using continuous pick and roll for assists by Harden, including Cappella's two alley-oops, 7 to 14 behind at start. The Thunder change defense quickly after Donovan called a time out, put Adams under the basket, leave Robson badgered with Harden to drained away his strength and someone stay in Harden’s passing lanes.

Then Harden missed 5 three-point shots, free throw was 0 at first 3 shoot, the Thunder sparked a run rapidly, both sides hit the unusual rubber again. This is the change of game start.

But it was Harden, his judgment and reading about the game situation, the choice in the ever-changing and his driving ability only Lebron at the same level with him in today's league. When Kanter as a substitute towards the match of the Thunder who with slow pace, Harden began to use the continuous breakthrough to find the play feeling. The Thunder was scruple by the Rockets deterrent so it create a lot of shoot space for Harden’s centre breakthrough. Even only got one jump shot outside of the restricted area near the basket on the first half of the game, Harden had also scored 18 points rely on the 8 breakthrough.

On the first half the Thunder can scored almost with the Rockets,because they had a magic play outside the three-point line. Robertson’s three-point shot hit rate was 24% in regular season but shot 3 in 3 on the first half while Christon’s hit rate was 19% but also shot 1 in 1. It is very unlikely situation. But even so, you can still feel the Rockets' determined strategy. Who against Robertson who shuold away from him 5 meters to help defense inside-out, it is most impossible to goal in.

Robertson shot 3 in 3, Christon shot 1 in 1, are you still expect this small probability event to continue in the second half? The Rockets’ three-point shot 3 for 15 in the first half, the Thunder got some impossible,even so, the Rockets are still 5 points ahead. When you look at these data, experience will tell you that the chance of the Thunder to win in this game is slim.

Harden rely on the constant breakthrough to get points to adjust his state while Westbrook has fewer helpers

In the third quarter, the Rockets 30 to the Thunder 20 and the fourth is 29 to 13. The Thunder was only got 33 points in the whole second half, it was prevented to 87 points in the whole game. Westbrook shot 14 in 4 got 15 points in the first half and shot 9 in 2 got 7points in the second half, harder than the first half.

Frankly, Harden’s teammates have not fully played in this game. Ravenea shot 11 in 3, three-point shot 3 in 0 while Anderson three-point shot 4 in 0 and Gordon was 8 in 3. The Thunder has been expanding the frontline defense, it reduced their hit rate. But you can still feel that their presence is a threat to the Thunder's defense! They stood there, there is a threat! Under the huge containment and create space of perimeter, Harden not only break it easily, but also promote the interior line in the pick and roll, Capela and Nenê shot 17 in 14 got 29 points totally.

Only Beverley is the really open perimeter of the Rockets, it’s another stunning game of him. His attack and defense is really perfect! Not only against Westbrook, but also got the personal career playoffs’ highest score-21 points and 10 rebounds! Beverley like a wall crashed into the cover of Adams in the third quarter, it must be broken if it was other person. But Beverley picked himself up and keep on fighting. His fearless temperament, the momentum of made three-point shot, was simply to suppress Westbrook who feared no-one. Beverley is the one who dare to die so it seems everyone fear of his momentum.

Now, it's the Thunder's turn. Westbrook had to play certainly, but he needed space first, his teammates needed to create space for him. He needs Oladipo rose to stand under Ariza’s limitations, Oladipo shot 12 in 1, three-point shot 6 in 0. If Oladipo could not back to status, the Thunder can not be competitive. Westbrook also needs shooters, He needs McDermott who take out by Donovan in the first round of the regular rotation. That's the only real shooter of the Thunder. He uses the stationary screen to empty-handed moves and shoot, contained the Rockets’ defense on the weak side at least, so the Rockets did not dare to volley Westbrook boldly in the restricted area near the basket.

The Thunder must also promote their rebounds. The league's top rebounding team can not accept the loss of 15 rebounds, once the two sides attacking scored of two times more than 19 to 0. If can not control the rebound in the back court, it can not push the fast attack of Westbrook, it will cause the Thunder lost the biggest win advantage.

We all know that if the Thunder want to be competitive in this series and win the opportunity, Westbrook must play better. But Westbrook can play well or not,it depend on whether his teammates can create space and opportunities for him.

That's the reason of Harden beat him in the first game.

The overall offensive capability of the Rockets is much better than the Thunder. When American journalists voted for MVP, their first choice is Westbrook; but when predicted the first victory of first round, everyone voted for the Rockets, most like me forecast 4 to 2 and a small amount forecast 4 to 1 and 4 to 3. In the first game, Westbrook could be lonely. That's why he would win the MVP, but it's full of pain.

Of course, you can also call it moving and tragic.

The series is just beginning. As the proverb of American Professional Sports says, the series is not really begin until someone win in away match. The Rockets just saved their first home match, this result is nothing special; the Thunder just lost their first away match, this is not unbearable, although the contents of the game showed maybe let the Thunder fans panic.

They need some miracle, need some magical playing.

I would also like to say it amazing for the Thunder itself in this season. So no matter what Westbrook do, don't be surprised.

It was the most attention to this series in the first round. There will always be some wonderful things appear in this series.