Finals MVP

Three Stars of the Night: Go big or go home

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A couple Hawks – Al Horford (26 points and 15 rebounds) and Jeff Teague (27 points and 11 rebounds) – played well as Atlanta jockeys for playoff positioning with the Bucks, but we’re less concerned with the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture than a vintage performance by an all-time great, helping a teammate and a historic streak.

Third Star: Tim Duncan (25 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks)

Duncan hadn’t posted the above numbers since winning his last NBA Finals MVP in 2005, but he’s now done it twice this season. It’s easy to understand how Duncan was one of the game’s best big men at age 28, but how is he still doing it at age 36? He is a marvel.

Second star: Brook Lopez (38 points on 22 shots, 11 rebounds)

Lopez came up big, shooting 11-of-13 in the restricted area, and helped someone who went home. In Deron Williams’ return to his hometown of Dallas, Lopez complemented Williams’ 31-point output by scoring on five of Williams’ six assists.

First star: LeBron James (25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks)

LeBron had 19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks – numbers only he, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant have posted in a single game this season – in the second half alone against his hometown Cavaliers. And the Heat, who trailed by 21 at halftime, need that big half from James to extend their win streak to 24 games.

Thanks to Heat’s run, a team 11.5 games up for the No. 1 seed cares about playing a team 12.5 games back from the No. 8 seed, and that means LeBron is locked in. That’s a win for anyone who enjoys watching great basketball.

David Stern considering handing out the MVP award later

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When asked if the MVP award should be handed out at some point during or after the postseason at a press conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, David Stern said “It’s an idea that should get some traction. I have no particular opinion on it one way or the other. And the worst answer I can give you is the truth — it’s always been done this way. That doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it.”

Interesting. In my opinion, making the MVP a regular-season award is the right way to do things, and the way things should remain, even after something like LeBron handily outplaying Rose in the Eastern Conference Finals happens. (By the way, Dwight Howard, who was eliminated in the first round, was the runner-up to the award, not LeBron.)

The MVP is an individual award, given out after teams play 82 games against more or less the same opponents. If it’s given after or during the playoffs, the playoffs will inevitably be given more emphasis than the regular season, decreasing the amount of games that are being judged from 82 to around 15. On top of that, teams are playing radically different opponents, which makes individual statistics almost irrelevant — how much value would you add to LeBron James’ numbers after he played the two best defenses in the league in the conference semifinals and conference finals?

Winning in the playoffs has its own set of rewards — you get to stay alive in the playoffs and get that much closer to a championship and a Finals MVP. The regular season MVP awards regular-season excellence, and that’s the way things should stay.