While the MVP results will not be known until after the regular season, there is little doubt in James Harden's mind who should win, especially with the hot streak the Brooklyn Nets have been on for over the past month.
Harden looks to produce another standout performance Monday night when the Nets host the league-worst Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Nets are 17-3 in their past 20 games since Feb. 9, a stretch during which Kevin Durant has played once due to a hamstring injury and Kyrie Irving has missed six games due to minor injuries and personal reasons.
Harden is averaging 26 points, 8.9 rebounds and 11.4 assists on 46.8 percent shooting in 31 games with the Nets. He also has 11 triple-doubles, one shy of the franchise record Jason Kidd set in 2006-07 and matched the following season.
In Friday's 113-111 win at Detroit, Harden returned from sitting out Brooklyn's 30-point loss at Utah with a neck injury and tied a season-high with 44 points to go along with 14 rebounds and eight assists. It was Harden's second 40-point game as a Net and his eighth game with at least 30 points since joining the team.
"I feel like I am the MVP," Harden said. "I don't want to be speaking individually on myself. I am just going to leave it at that.
"Numbers are showing it for itself, and we're winning. That's all I can say."
Harden's numbers may be even more impressive considering how little he has shared the court with Irving and Durant. The trio has played just seven games together totaling 186 minutes, although that figure may change soon.
"We expect to get those guys back this week and we can't wait," Harden said.
Irving could return Monday from missing the trip, and Durant might return at some point this week when the Nets also face Houston and Charlotte.
Whenever the duo returns, they will return to a roster that added Blake Griffin and will add LaMarcus Aldridge. The former Spur and Blazer could be available Monday, although like Griffin, it could take him a few games to get ramped up and actually appear in a game.
Minnesota owns four wins in its past 10 games following a nine-game skid from Feb. 16-March 3 and is coming off a 129-107 home loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday, marking the 22nd time it allowed at least 120 points. The Wolves trailed 74-48 at halftime a night after scoring the final 22 points and overcoming a 29-point deficit to beat Houston on Friday.
"The wake-up call should have been last night when we had this kind of game and we found a way to come back and win," Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns said. "You can't expect something to happen like that two nights in a row.
"We got lucky. If you don't come out ready in the NBA, they're going to do what they did to us tonight. We should have learned our lesson last night."
Towns and rookie Anthony Edwards scored 27 points apiece on a night when Malik Beasley returned from a 12-game suspension and scored 13 points.
Towns is averaging 29.3 points over his past seven games, and Edwards also is playing well lately. Edwards is averaging 25 points over his past eight games, a stretch that includes 42 points on March 18 in Phoenix.
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