Colin Cowherd reveals why the stakes are so high for Westbrook’s Thunder in tonight’s game against Heat

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In his reaction to Oklahoma City defeating the Houston Rockets over the weekend, Colin Cowherd reveals why the stakes are so high tonight for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and the rest of the Thunder when they face Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

- What I'm about to say is contrarian to what I've always said about the NBA regular season is that it mostly doesn't matter. Don't get me wrong. The good teams, you know, they rest starters. Golden State, you can tell they're kind of half into it, LeBron.

For the young teams, Philadelphia, Lakers, regular season means more. It means more. But tonight is a rare, rare, rare, rare, rare regular season NBA game, where you have a veteran team, and it means everything.

So Saturday night, Oklahoma City played the Houston Rockets. Now the Houston Rockets rested two of their better players. Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson didn't play.

Gordon's their third-best scorer, and Oklahoma City won. Now after the game, the Rockets' head coach admitted, for us, we've got our seeding. We're all good. This doesn't mean a ton.

Now is tonight. Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City go to Miami. The game means something for Miami, and Miami is pretty good, not great, pretty good. Let me put this into context.

If Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City do not win tonight at Miami, there is a chance they won't make the playoffs. And there is an excellent chance they'll be tied with like Denver and Minnesota for the eighth spot in the West. Oh, wait a minute, that's a huge problem because Denver and Minnesota have the tiebreaker with Oklahoma City.

This is not me picking on Russell Westbrook. Some people picked this team-- Paul Pierce, for one-- as a dark horse NBA champion. I didn't, but I thought they'd be a 55-win team, third seed, very good. If Russell Westbrook, the MVP, does not make the playoffs, with Paul George an All-Star, Steven Adams, one of the top five six bigs in the league, and a Hall of Famer in Carmelo Anthony, it will be the greatest NBA talent, the best collection of NBA players that couldn't make the playoffs.

Try to name another. It will be Phi Slama Jama of college basketball. When I say Phi Slama Jama, you don't name the players. You say, how the hell did they not win a championship?

Drexler, Hakeem, Guy Lewis couldn't coach. That's what you'll say about Westbrook. Melo, Paul George, Steven Adams, Westbrook couldn't make the playoffs? That guy can't lead.

Folks, when I say Kevin Garnett, he won an MVP, too. You don't care. First thing you think about is Celtics, KG, and a ring.

When I say Derrick Rose, do you think MVP? Nah, broken down point guard, kind of a bust really. Karl Malone, Phi Slama Jama? MVPs don't mean the same thing for everybody. You can't even name how many Jordan had because he won so many championships.

Yes, Russell Westbrook has an MVP. But 20 years from now at a bar-- 20 years from now at an airport talking to a stranger-- 20 years from now on a plane talking to a buddy, you'll be like Russell Westbrook, remember that year they are all good players, and they couldn't make the playoffs? This is going to be unbelievable.

You will never, ever-- if you're Russell Westbrook, this will be your brand. It won't be the MVP. It won't be Kevin Durant leaving you. It will be this.

You have to win tonight. And let me tell you something. Let me show you teams right now in the Western Conference-- that play in the same tough Western Conference as Russell Westbrook.

Utah is a four seed. Utah has Ricky Rubio at point. He can't shoot, a rookie at shooting guard, undrafted Joe Ingles at forward, and Derrick Favors, the number three pick years ago who's never panned out. That's four of their best five players.

The New Orleans Pelicans have Anthony Davis, E'Twaun Moore, Darius Miller, Ian Clarke, Rondo, and Emeka Okafor, who is out of the G League and for four years was out of any league. New Orleans could make it. Utah's a top seed. Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, Melo don't make it?

That MVP will not define Westbrook. The triple double will not define him. Being on the best NBA team in league history that couldn't make the playoffs will define it. This is a rare massive NBA brand-defining game in the regular season for a veteran NBA team, where almost no games really matter.

Sixers, Lakers, young teams, lot of games matter, part of the journey, part of the road trip. Neither has a chance to win a championship this year. Westbrook, Russell, I know everybody thinks I'm rooting against him. I'm not.

I'm not. Because I think if he misses the playoffs, he'll never be the same as a player or a person. I hope OKC gets in. I like sports. I'd love to see them open with Houston or Golden State.