Short-handed, the Clippers fell to the Pacers 116-92.
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The 2018 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player award went to Houston Rockets James Harden. He was the MVP from start to finish in most of his peers eyes. He led the Rockets to a NBA’s best 65 wins in a tough Western Conference. Harden who led the league in PPG with 30.4 was also third in assist (8.8) just shows the value he had on this Rockets team. He led the league with the most free throw attempts (727) and the second most being 114 behind. The addition of his All-Star backcourt teammate Chris Paul many thought may have diminished Harden's production stat wise, but it only elevated his play by taking the responsibility of running the offense off his shoulders.
This Rockets team was one victory from taking down the the two time defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. If Paul did not get hurt we would have a new champion in 2018 but no one can dismiss the season the Houston Rockets had or how spectacular Harden's season was this past year.
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Philadelphia’s point guard Ben Simmons took home the Rookie of the Year honors in a category that was probably the closest it’s been ROY race this season has seen since 2004 when LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were neck and neck for the award. Utah's rookie Donovan Mitchell whom many may have given their first place vote was a close second. Some may argue that Mitchell had more of a responsibility being in the Western Conference, and not playing with an All-Star, and being a first year rookie unlike Simmons whom sat out his first year due to a foot injury and playing alongside All-Star Joel Embiid. 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assist from Simmons can not be denied and he was the catalyst for the Sixers despite not being an All-Star.
Photo By: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Clippers Lou Williams wins the Sixth Man of the Year award for the second time in his career (2015) while reigning sixth man Eric Gordon (Hou) was a close second. He led the Clippers in scoring (22.6) after they departed ways with former All-Star Blake Griffin before the trade deadline. In January he notched his first career 50 point game against the reigning champion Warriors.
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Utah’s Center Rudy Gobert one day before his 26th birthday won Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career. He wins the award despite not being in the top 10 in blocks while the other two candidates for the award were #1 (Anthony Davis) & #4 (Joel Embiid) respectively. The other two were also starters in the All-Star game in Los Angeles. All that being said the value of Gobert to coach Quin Snyder and the Jazz could not be more appreciated. Even though rookie Donovan Mitchell is the best player and the engine to this Jazz team one could argue Gobert was the ultimate difference for the Jazz all season long. Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo Wins Most Improved Player in his first season with his new team. He was top 10 in scoring with 23.1/gm and led his team to within one win away from taking down the four time Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a guy a lot of people outside of the Pacers organization didn't have much faith in to carry a franchise...but now with this guy leading the way the Indiana may have something to look forward to.
Photo By: The Asociated Press
Former Toronto Raptors Coach Dwane Casey wins NBA Coach of the Year after posting a franchise best 59 wins. Casey was fired after the Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semi-finals 4-0. The choice to go with Casey over the other candidates Quin Snyder (Utah), & Brad Stevens (Bos) whom some may have felt were more deserving of the award was probably the surprise of the night. This is not a regular season award and the Raptors had a great season they just were not able to solve the LeBron James saga which is definitely not something to be ashamed about.
The Cleveland Cavaliers get a much need win in game 2 by defeating the Indiana Pacers 100-97. The Cavs made changes to their starting lineup inserting JR Smith and Kyle Korver and still did not play a great overall team game but still came up with the win. LeBron James was the ultimate difference maker from beginning to end. The 3x Champion and Finals MVP showed why the playoffs are something you have to be built for and not many players rise to the challenge like King James.
James knew the Cavaliers could go to Indiana down 0-2 so he came out and dominated the Pacers from start to finish putting up 29 points in the first half and ultimately finishing with 46 points (17-24), 12 rebounds, and 5 assist. He came out aggressive after not attempting a shot in the first 10 minutes of Game 1 and he put his team on his back and he made sure to bring this one home. He got some contributions from Kevin Love who was the second leading scorer with 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Love may have injured his left hand (non shooting) towards the end of the game so the Cavs will monitor that for Game 3. Kyle Korver who has been playing with a heavy heart with the passing of his younger brother started the game and hit half of his three point attempts (4-8) finishing with 12 points.
The Pacers who jumped all over the Cavs in the first quarter of Game 1 fell behind 33-18 in this one but worked their way back into it getting within three points, but was never able to breakthrough. The best player on the floor in Game 1 Victor Oladipo got in foul trouble earlier committing three fouls in the first half and may have led to his passiveness. He was still able to lead the Pacers in scoring with 22 points on 9-18 shooting and 6 assist. His backcourt teammate Darren Collison played well hitting a huge three in the fourth and taking a charge on Cavs guard George Hill which gave the Pacers the ball back and a chance to cut the Cavs lead to one score. He finished with 16 points and dished out 6 assist. Center Myles Turner also contributed 18 points.
They weathered the storm the Cavs threw their way and ultimately had a chance late to win the game but LeBron James was able to close the deal knocking down his free throws. They now will get a chance to play in front of their home crowd and take a 2-1 series lead on Friday.
Game 3: Friday 4/20 4:00 PT
What Too Watch For: Will Pacers get back to what helped them win Game 1?
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