Mar, 25, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant and LeBron James set to settle MVP race tonight

The NBA MVP winner will be decided tonight. The Oklahoma City Thunder travel to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat at 8 p.m. EST tonight.

Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. That’s all that matters tonight.

The MVP race hasn’t been much of one for most of this season. After LeBron’ unbelievable start to the season the award looked like it would be his for sure. LeBron has tailed off recently and his team doesn’t have the best record in the league either.

The Thunder have the best record in the West and are closing in on the Bulls for the best record in the league and their best player is also having a career year. With Durant coming on and LeBron coasting, the MVP race is waiting for something to happen to declare its winner.

The first thing that happened was Durant and the Thunder beating the Heat two Sundays ago. The Thunder won by 16 and Durant clearly outplayed LeBron in a game where the two were matched up for most of it.

Tonight, LeBron gets his chance to make up for that setback. His numbers are better than Durant’s overall but the MVP is always about more than numbers. It’s about the story and who the media wants to vote for and this year, it’s about the two regular season matchups between Durant and LeBron.

There are a couple of scenarios that could unfold tonight and will swing the MVP either way.

The Thunder win and Durant outplays LeBron again

This one is simple and would undoubtedly make Durant the frontrunner for the award. Oklahoma City already beat the Heat at home but doing it again less than two weeks later on the road would be something significant. Durant played one of his best games of the season in the first meeting but Russell Westbrook and James Harden struggled. The way the Heat play defense it looks like it will be Durant who has to step up.

The Thunder win but Durant struggles and Westbrook has a big game

LeBron has dominated Durant in some of their matchups throughout their careers. If he shuts him down tonight it wouldn’t be too surprising and if the Heat are without Dwyane Wade (who missed last night’s game after banging his knee in the Boston game Sunday) then the Thunder could still win. If it’s Westbrook who steps up with a 30-plus night then the Thunder’s team success will be credited more to Durant and Westbrook than just Durant and the MVP award could stick with LeBron.

The Heat win but Wade steals the show

If Wade plays and the Heat win convincingly because Wade and not LeBron, it might look better on Durant. Wade is a tough matchup for the Thunder too. He does a great job defending Westbrook and can have his way on offense too. If it looks like LeBron and the Heat only win because of Wade then it’s bad news for LeBron.

The Heat win without Wade and LeBron is huge

LeBron has played better individually without Wade this season and the Heat have gone 9-1 with Wade out of the lineup. If the scenario unfolds tonight where LeBron throws up a huge triple-double and the Heat beat the Thunder then LeBron locks up the award no question.

No matter what, the game will be awesome tonight. You know the Thunder will be up for it and Durant should come out strong. All eyes will be on LeBron though and is he folds again under the pressure of tonight’s game then it will be Durant who is named the best player in the NBA this season.

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Tags: Dwyane Wade James Harden Kevin Durant LeBron James Miami Heat MVP Race Russell Westbrook

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