MVP candidates square off as playoffs get underway

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With the end of the National Basketball Association regular season finally here, it is time to look on to the playoffs and who will win the league's biggest awards.

John Yang has the story.

Even with becoming only the second player to ever average a triple-double, Westbrook finished 18th overall in minutes at 34.6 per game. Harden averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds for the Rockets. The presence of 40-year-old Vince Carter makes it a bit more interesting to Raptors fans as he takes one more kick at the post-season can. Just be comfortable and play your game, but every possession matters. James hasn't played in a Game 6 in a first-round series since 2008.

Back in the 1995 Western Conference finals, we had a showdown between two incredible, historic big men.

Mr. Robertson, thanks so much for joining us. Put it into context.

Harden notched 22 triple-doubles this season. All season long, we've debated whether or not James Harden's offensive creation matters more than Russell Westbrook's triple-doubles. The Thunder are 4-1 all-time in the playoffs when Westbrook gets a triple-double. He poured in 27 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists against the Rockets. So, is that why this is such a rare accomplishment?

The real key is, can you get the rebounds? So I say again, this nearly had to happen.

And you get with a certain team. ". I'm happy to be a part of it to say I had a triple-double in the National Basketball Association and to say I did it in the same season that Russell and James and LeBron all those guys went insane this season doing it".

JOHN YANG: How did you feel about Westbrook breaking your record for the number of double-triples in a season and also matching - having double-triples for - averaging double-triples for the full season?

"The medical staff does a great job with all his data throughout his entire career, how many minutes he's played, all those kind of things", Donovan said. And Russell Westbrook has stepped up to the plate. And this is really something. Their relationship goes back way before their Oklahoma City days, when they were teammates from 2009 to '12.

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On the court afterward, Nurkic smiled when he was told about the coach's comments. "To have Oscar Robertson standing there with him, it kinda bridges the past and the future". It's been there 55 years. As good as he's been, and it's been historically good, I don't think he has quite the best case, by the smallest of margins. They missed Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha for extended periods and never gained any late-season traction.

Finally, it goes without saying that Westbrook must be on every night for the team to have a chance. Everything in this series goes much deeper in how it will be decided. The fouls will be harder. If they get it together, they might be a tough out.

JOHN YANG: What do you think?

The first game of the playoffs will look like the first game of the regular season for some clubs.

In the first round, Golden State will play the Trailblazers. Six of them are: longtime IAABO Board 10 referee Judy Ruthko; Denise Bierly, who coaches at Eastern Connecticut State; Northwestern Regional head coach Fred Williams; former North Haven and Providence standout Suan Altieri; ex-Masuk and Richmond standout Michelle Florin Custis; and Jessica Grossarth who played at Fairfield University. Now without Kevin Durant in tow, the math problem becomes even more extreme. It is time for Adams and friends to give Westbrook a helping hand, or they'll be going home early.

On the East Coast, it's up in the air.

Houston won't be intimidated and likely welcomes all the attention that this matchup will bring in order to prove it is a real threat to the West's top two teams.

Before the All-Star break, the Blazers were 23-33 and it looked as if they were headed to the draft lottery in the offseason.

So, I guess something is going to happen pretty soon whereby that may change.

The defending champions went 51-31 after a awful stretch of games to end the season. He's averaging higher numbers in efficiency than we've seen, and it's just all in a day's work for King James.