1. Westbrook ties Robertson’s triple-double record
Before this season, Oscar Robertson’s single-season record of 41 triple-doubles was a mark that would never be touched, like Wilt’s 100 or Favre’s 297 consecutive starts. But last night, 55 years after Robertson’s historic season, Russell Westbrook notched his 41st triple-double of the season. And with five games still remaining in the Thunder’s season — including a few games against lackluster opponents — Westbrook is certain to put some distance between himself and the Big O.
But there’s one race in which Westbrook can’t get any separation: MVP. Triple-doubles in seven straight games — along with a huge scoring night in Orlando (57 points) — have vaulted Russ back to MVP favorite in the eyes of most sportsbooks. But even after missing his first game of the season on Sunday, James Harden’s case, which is rooted in his team’s accomplishments, is still strong.
One very deserving candidate is going to lose this race, and as ridiculous as it would seem during such a historic season, it could be Westbrook. If you bet either of these players at the start of the year, cash out now if you still can (especially if you took Harden, who had far longer odds to start the year). It will allow you to remain sane and enjoy the playoffs instead of waiting for voter news to trickle in (including that one writer who votes for Jimmy Butler just to get attention).
2. Letang out 4-6 months
The Pittsburgh Penguins have weathered a storm of injuries on the back end admirably, and will still finish the NHL regular season with one of the best records in hockey. But they won’t finish the year with number one defenseman Kris Letang. The Penguins leader in ice-time last playoffs will undergo surgery on a herniated disc and his recovery time will be four to six months, keeping him out of the 2017 postseason.
Pittsburgh has the league’s best offense, but playoff hockey is a tighter, more defensive game. While guys like Justin Schultz and Ian Cole have been solid this year, in seven-game series against deep teams like Washington and Columbus, the Penguin’s lack of a go-to defenseman will be exploited.
I know you’ve heard this seven seasons in a row, but this is really shaping up to the Capitals year.
Photo Credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.