The Oklahoma City Thunder belong to Kevin Durant. Few NBA teams can attach themselves to a true superstar icon and the Thunder already have theirs. If room for two is allowed at times, then Russell Westbrook enters the picture. After all, the elite point guard is one of the game's best at the position. But the NBA playoffs are the perfect time for others to rise in the global spotlight available to them and James Harden is a secret no more, as he dominated the Mavericks in game four that completed the sweep against the defending NBA champions.
The Thunder won the fourth and final game of the opening series last night 103-97 on the strength of Harden's performance. He scored at will and took over in the fourth quarter. His final line? 29 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals.
After the game, Devin Kharpertian wrote, "With the Thunder down 13 in the fourth quarter, it wasn't Kevin Durant nor Russell Westbrook who pulled them back into this game. It was one 22-year-old sixth man named James Harden. Harden penetrated the lane, converted a ferocious dunk, hit tough layups in traffic, swung key assists to the superstars suddenly relegated to role duty and etched himself into playoff lore, leading a phenomenal comeback to confirm the sweep."
Harden is the best sixth man in the NBA at this point, no questions asked. However, superstardom could be his if he were able and willing to go to another team. Is it worth leaving? Would the team allow him? Those are questions to be asked and answered later. For now, the Thunder have a lot more ability than most people realized. The Mavericks just witnessed it firsthand.