The MVP race in the NBA this year was and still is absolutely no contest. Kevin Durant has been the best basketball player in the world in 2014, by far. His statistics prove just how unreal his 2013-14 campaign has been: 32 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. The only other player who comes close to KD's numbers is LeBron James, and even he believes the honor should go to Durant: "I would say he's the most consistent basketball player as far as the MVP this year, man. He's put up some great numbers."
If that wasn't enough proof that Durant should be this year's NBA MVP, the closing seconds of regulation in Monday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies solidifies the argument.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder down 5 with 13.8 seconds to go in the game, Kevin Durant received the ball in the very corner of the court from Russell Westbrook after the OKC guard nearly had the ball stripped. As KD received the pass, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol bodied him up, bumping Durant out of bounds. Before he landed, though, Durant threw up this circus shot:
Prompting this reaction from his teammates on the bench:
While the celebration was definitely warranted, perhaps the moment of the shot created too much pandemonium and havoc, especially considering the Thunder would go on to lose to the Grizzlies in overtime, 111-105.
When asked if the shot was the best of his still young career, KD replied with an NBA MVP-caliber answer: ''I don't know, man. We lost, so it really don't matter.''
Kevin Durant: "Gotta move past it." Game 3 Thursday night in MEM. Series tied 1-1.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) April 22, 2014
While Oklahoma City may be the No. 2 seed in the West and feature perhaps the two most exciting players in the league with Durant and Russell Westbrook, they have their hands more than full with the No. 7 seed Memphis Grizzlies.
The match-up is so difficult for the Thunder due to the contrasting styles between the two teams: OKC wants to play loose and up-tempo, while the Grizzlies are looking to slow the game down and pound the ball down low to their two big men, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
''Basically it's just going to be a slugfest. We're going to pound it. They're going to run it. Whoever can come up with the most stops pretty much wins the game," stated Tony Allen, the man who was tasked with defending Durant for the majority of the game.
The validity of Allen's statement rang true in the latter moments of overtime Monday night as the Grizzlies were able to pull away late by forcing OKC into bad shots. The Thunder shot under 40 percent in Monday's contest, with Durant going 12-28.
The momentum stays with the Grizzlies as the series moves to the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis for the next game. The series is currently tied 1-1, with Game 3 scheduled for Thursday night.
(And another look because it is well-warranted.)