The MVP Race Continues
This season’s MVP race is an exciting one. The MVP conversations are between Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Other players such as Steph Curry, Joel Embiid and Paul George have also made a case for MVP nods. Curry, Embiid and George are ranked on NBA.com’s MVP Ladder at the third, fourth and fifth spots respectively. They are having great seasons, but the two front-runners are Antetokounmpo and Harden.
The Bucks Shut Down Harden
On Tuesday, the two MVP candidates faced each for the second (and final) time of the regular season. The Bucks beat the Rockets 108-94, which made the Bucks 2-0 against the Rockets this season. They also beat the Rockets 116-109 in Houston on Jan.9.
The MVP candidates were the talk of Tuesday’s game, but Eric Bledsoe stole the show. Bledsoe finished the game with 23 points. He scored 16 of his 23 points in the third quarter. Bledsoe also took on the task of guarding James Harden. Harden finished the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 rebounds. He also shot 9/26 from the field and shot 11.1 percent from the three-point line. Harden had a poor shooting night, but so did the Rockets as a whole. The Rockets shot 30.8 percent from behind the arc, as they took 52 3-pointers and made only 16.
Harden’s performance in this game was due to the Bucks’ defensive effort. He downplayed it but saying that his shots weren’t falling.
“I still got my shots up. I still did what I was supposed to do. Obviously, some shots didn’t go in like every other game, but as a team we had our shots that we got. Tonight, they didn’t go in. If they go in, it’s a different ballgame,” Harden said.
His performance in this game was out of the ordinary. Harden averages 36.2 points, 7.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game. Last week Harden scored 57 against the Memphis Grizzlies and 61 against the San Antonio Spurs. His outing against the Bucks is just one game, but it was an opportunity for Harden to make a statement. He could have shown that he is the MVP over Antetokounmpo. But the Bucks shut him down.
Is Harden the MVP?
Despite his game against the Bucks, Harden is still the front-runner. His season has been impressive and historic. His teammate Chris Paul echoed these sentiments.
“James went on a historic run. Know what I mean? Obviously I’m biased about the MVP and whoever or whatnot, but those of you that decide it on head-to-head games with a few games left in the season, good luck with that,” said Paul.
The Rockets have seven games left in the season. So, Harden has seven games to have great performances. On the other hand, so does Antetokounmpo. Both players have a chance to solidify their MVP nods.
Regardless of which player wins the MVP, both players deserve the honor.
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