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Kawhi Leonard vaults himself into the NBA MVP conversation

Plus: the Cavs suffer another injury and the Heat surge into playoff contention.

Kawhi Leonard had his Most Valuable Player moment on Monday, and now it’s time to reassess where he stands in the debate. Leonard has been a two-way superstar all season long and he’s been a fixture in top-5 MVP conversations, so this is not a surprise. What has changed is the presumption that James Harden and Russell Westbrook are co-favorites with no other serious challenger.

This really comes down to what you value: the heroic singular effort in the face of overwhelming odds (Westbrook) or a dominant performance for a potentially great team (Harden.) How about the two-way impact where Leonard shines? Oh, and there’s still LeBron James hanging around.

We get into all of that on this week’s Drive & Kick podcast.

Also on the pod:

  • A plea from Flanns to keep an open mind on MVP talk for the next five weeks. There really isn’t a wrong argument here.
  • Poor Andrew Bogut. The Cavs will be fine, Part 238.
  • That last playoff spot in the East is, um, heating up. Let us now praise Dion Waiters, the irrational self-confidence champ. And Erik Spoelstra, magician.
  • We both would like the Bucks to sneak in there purely for Giannis reasons. Gonz is writing off the Pistons. Flanns argues himself into circles and declares that he’s full of it.
  • How about that Rookie of the Year race? It’s the shrug emoji of awards. Here’s yet another discussion about Joel Embiid’s minutes. Yay.
  • If not Emiid then ... who? It gets pretty grim out there pretty fast.
  • A brief discussion of halftime entertainment. Apparently there’s a chair rivalry between the Amazing Sladek and somebody called the Chairmaster?
  • Come on Philly, let Gonz fire the t-shirt cannon.