The NBA Finals is not only a battle of the two best teams in the league, but also one between the top two players, at least according to this year’s MVP voting.
LeBron James won his third MVP award, and Kevin Durant was runner-up despite being this year’s scoring champion. Last night, James stepped onto Durant’s turf to compete for the elusive NBA championship.
But, round one went to Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. He finished with 36 points and eight rebounds, while James had 30 points and nine rebounds.
Not only did Durant’s team win, but he also outscored James and stepped up down the stretch to ensure his team’s victory. He was able to do what many believe James cannot-close out games.
The Thunder held a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter, so both players knew what they had to do for their respective teams to grab a Game 1 victory. Unfortunately for James, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two very different things.
Durant scored 17 points on 6-10 shooting in the final 12 minutes, while LeBron James only had 7 points. What was even worse for the Heat was that they finished with 40 points total in the second half, but Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 41, along with the rest of the inputs from their teammates.
Miami and Oklahoma City are two prolific teams. They each have big-time players, but there is a major difference in teamwork and overall chemistry that was evident in last night’s game.
Durant outscored the MVP, but he also had help on both ends of the court as well as the sidelines in coach Scott Brooks. He knows how to win, he is not afraid of the big stage, and he proved last night that he IS the Thunder’s go-to player down the stretch.
James, not so much.