With just four teams left standing in this season’s NBA Playoffs, there are just two trophies up for grabs. One, of course, is the title. But who will end up with the MVP prize in their hands at the very end?
Of course, to be eligible, you need to be in the Finals. Right now, it’s the Miami Heat at 1.32 to take the Eastern Conference crown and the San Antonio Spurs at 1.65 to topple the West.
Then, it helps – a lot – if you’re part of the victorious team.
Only Jerry West, who took the prize in its inaugural season, has ended up a loser and a winner as part of the LA Lakers side which came off runners-up to the Boston Celtics in 1969.
Among the voters, there’s also partly recognition of not just a performance in the Finals but the entire post-season as well. Which is why LeBron James, assuredly the MVP of these playoffs so far, is the 2.25 favourite in the race to be Finals MVP for the third successive year.
The Miami Heat forward, averaging 30 points per game to date, will like his chances of getting past the Indiana Pacers in the East when the Conference finals begins on Sunday.
Beyond that, the Heat’s fate is a little more uncertain. If Oklahoma City beat out the Spurs, then Thunder forward Kevin Durant, the season MVP, will surely be a contender and he’s currently 5.00. Logically, his team-mate Russell Westbrook would also have a shot at 12.00.
But here’s the twist, should the Pacers and Spurs go all the way to a Championship, there’s a strong chance it will be based on collective effort than individual brilliance. Which would leave candidates like Tim Duncan and Paul George floating in the wind.
It’s worth a punt early on MVP before the odds climb down. And even if, like me, you believe Miami will end up second-best, the smart money says James will still shine – with Westbrook the best value from the field.
Best bet: Take LeBron James for Finals MVP at 2.25.