Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder passes the ball against Matt Barnes #22 and DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 5, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Forget everything that happened in Game 1 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Wednesday's Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals is about the NBA's Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant. On Tuesday, the best player of the NBA's regular season received a trophy that he worked tirelessly to capture, and the manner in which he addressed the world, his coaches, his teammates and especially his mother in his moment of great success explained why Durant the basketball player would never approach the heights of Durant the human being.
That is not a shot at Durant's playing ability; he is the MVP, after all.
Somewhere in Oklahoma City, even the Los Angeles Clippers had to have been watching Durant's speech and begging for a box of tissues.
For Wednesday's Game 2, the emotion of the crowd should be devastating. Pun intended, the chants of "MVP" will thunder down with greater emphasis than ever before at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The love and praise Durant showered on each one of his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates during his moment in the spotlight ensured that his teammates should come out with greater fight on Wednesday night.
He fights for them, so they will fight for him. Without a doubt, Durant's speech emotionally strengthened and further bonded the Thunder team.
Game 1 may have been a blowout in favor of the Clippers, but Game 2 should be anything but. To this point, the Los Angeles Clippers have been the emotionally charged team of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, but on Wednesday night, that should change.
For the Clippers, the goal is to stick with the game plan. In Game 1, that game plan was pretty simple: Chris Paul. The Clippers' point guard was unstoppable. He made eight three-pointers in a row and only missed two shots on the night.
He also weaved through the Thunder's defense and provided perfect passes that led to open shots for his teammates.
Durant played well, but Paul was unstoppable, and the Clippers were on fire. Part of Paul's fire may have been due to the whispers that questioned if Paul's hamstring was strong enough to handle Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. The younger and more athletic Westbrook scored 29 points, but he finished with six turnovers and only four assists.
Paul played at such an elevated level that Westbrook's points did not even factor into the series opener. Neither did Durant's 25 points, to be honest.
That game was about Paul, and the Clippers now only have to win on their home court to win the series. Game 2 is calling for Durant to steal the Clippers' thunder by performing at a level fit for the league's MVP. For this series to come to life, Durant and Thunder absolutely need a win on Wednesday night.
The emotion of the occasion may overwhelm the lanky forward, but more likely, Durant will do exactly what he has done for years and what he did all season long. He did not accidentally win the award, as the forward landed 119 of 124 first-place tallies in the MVP voting.**
However, if Paul and the Clippers somehow take another game off the Thunder in Oklahoma City, this series may effectively be over by the time the Clippers' jet touches the tarmac at LAX. But Durant and this series deserve more than that. Game 2 tips off at 6:30 pm Pacific Time.
**For those wondering, no one has ever been voted as a unanimous MVP, but LeBron James was the closest with 120 of 121 first-place votes in 2013.