Too bad, Kevin. We’re still going to talk about it. There’s a showdown in South Beach tonight between the NBA’s two leading MVP candidates, but Kevin Durant is doing all he can not to get caught up in the hype. Per the Oklahoman:
The Thunder star has become the story of this NBA season and a heavy favorite for this year’s MVP honor, thanks in large part to the sizzling hot streak he’s on. Durant has scored at least 30 points in 11 straight games and has five 40-point games this month. He’s averaging a shade below 37 points in January and has his team, without super sidekick Russell Westbrook, on an eight-game winning streak and stubbornly clinging to the Western Conference’s top seed entering Wednesday’s highly anticipated showdown at Miami.
He says it’s too early for MVP talk. But his play is driving the conversation.
Durant’s latest and greatest opportunity to build on his already immaculate résumé comes in the form of a potentially pivotal matchup with (LeBron) James, the four-time MVP who has led his Heat to back-to-back NBA titles. It’s the first of two meetings between the two and one of several factors that could swing MVP votes in the second half of the season.
“We just got to play hard,” Durant deadpanned when asked about the matchup. “It’s a regular game. It’s another game for us. We just got to focus on us. Of course, we respect our opponent, but we don’t come into the game saying ‘We have to stop this guy.’ We got to stop their whole team. We just got to focus on us and do what we do.”
James is taking a different approach, at least publicly, telling Miami reporters Tuesday that slowing Durant is his primary focus. “It’s not secondary,” James said. “It’s first-dary.”
And James doesn’t hide the fact that he gets up to face Durant. “Between he and Melo, they’re the toughest covers for me,” James told Miami reporters Tuesday about Durant and New York forward Carmelo Anthony. “It’s a game (within) the game. You want to win. But you also want to try to do your part against who you’re going against. I like going against the best, and he’s definitely right up there.”