It is possible — I would suggest even likely — that the NBA Finals will end on Tuesday night in Cleveland. Which means the MVP trophy would be voted on by select members of the media, then handed out.
And for the first time since 1969 and “The Logo” Jerry West was putting up ridiculous numbers, a player on the losing side could win the award.
With only a game or two left in the NBA season, the Finals MVP is down to a three-man race. Maybe two with a dark horse is a better way to put it. And how the final games play out will have a factor in the voting — we all often value most what impressed most recently. It’s human nature.
Here are the three guys that can win it, in the order I think is most likely to happen.
1) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. He is on top for this simple reason: Voters want to pick someone from the winning team. Some might even say the winner has to come from the winning team (I disagree, but the sentiment is out there). If he has another brilliant shooting night and owns Game 6 as the Warriors close it out, expect him to win.
And he deserves to be on this list. Curry has been the game-changer in this series, you could see in the fourth quarter of Game 3 he had finally figured out Matthew Dellavedova and the Cavaliers’ defense. In the fourth quarter of Game 5, he dropped 17, hit some signature baskets and put his stamp on the series. He has been the leading scorer and (arguably) best player on the best team. But I think he needs a big Game 6 to secure the MVP award.
2) LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. If you’re going to pick the single best player in the NBA Finals to win the MVP it’s not eve close, it goes to LeBron. What else could he do? Sell beer on the concourse during timeouts? His statistics are ridiculous: He has averaged 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. Or look at it this way: on LeBron’s shots, assists, and the offensive rebounds off his shots the Cavaliers have an eFG% of 51.6 percent, on all other shots not created by LeBron it is 30.7 percent. He has largely controlled the tempo of the series. He has been their offense — and played well on defense. There is no question who the single best player in this series has been. But if the award for “most valuable” has to go to a guy on the winning team, then LeBron is out of luck.
“I wouldn’t feel good about it at all,” James said. “At the end of the day I’m here to win a team prize, and that’s to win a championship, not an individual prize.”
3) Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors. We’ve already made the case for him as MVP. He has averaged 14.6 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting, he has it 40.7 percent from three, plus he has guarded LeBron most of the series and done a respectable job on him. The Warriors are not on the cusp of a title without him. If Curry doesn’t have a monster Game 6, Iguodala does, the Warriors win, and voters are looking for a Curry alternative, Iguodala is in the mix. Consider him a dark horse.