Chris Paul favored to win 2021 NBA Finals MVP
Injuries and a brief COVID-19 quarantine couldn’t stop the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks from meeting in the 2021 NBA Finals, set for tipoff on Tuesday night.
Behind the play of 11-time All-Star Chris Paul, the +160 frontrunner to win 2021 Finals MVP, the second-seeded Suns overcame a short-handed Los Angeles Clippers team, who played without superstar Kawhi Leonard for the entirety of the six-game Western Conference Finals series.
NBA Finals MVP 2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:00 PM
Paul, Booker set to duke it out for MVP
In last Wednesday’s series-clinching Game 6, Paul unleashed one of his strongest performances of the season, as he piled up 41 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
The 36-year-old point guard averaged 24 points, 8.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds over four games in the series, in which he missed Games 1 and 2 because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Without Paul on the floor, Phoenix went 2-0, as star shooting guard Devin Booker, the +250 second choice to win MVP, powered his team.
The 24-year-old, who broke his nose during a collision with Patrick Beverley in Game 2, averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in the series. His best outing came in Game 1, when he recorded his first career triple-double, with 40 points on 51.7% shooting, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Should Phoenix win the franchise’s first NBA title — which it is favored to do — the MVP award will presumably come down to Paul or Booker, who can turn the tide of a game on any given night, particularly when the pair is on the court together.
Interestingly, longshot MVP candidate DeAndre Ayton (+2500) ranks second on the roster, behind Paul, in Player Efficiency Rating in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. He has averaged 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds in the postseason and deserves a look at MVP, but the flashier — and smarter pick — is either Booker or Paul.
Without Giannis, Middleton is Milwaukee's MVP
The Bucks are arguably down to a two-man race for MVP, as well, assuming Giannis Antetokounmpo can return to the lineup for the championship series.
"The Greek Freak" hyperextended his knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals series with the Atlanta Hawks and is doubtful for Game 1 on Tuesday.
He currently shares the best odds (+500) of any Bucks player to claim MVP. Khris Middleton is the other top contender on the team, after he posted a game-high 32 points, plus seven assists, four rebounds, and three steals in Game 6 of the conference finals on Saturday.
Jrue Holiday (+800) and Brook Lopez (+10000) also stepped up for huge performances in the series, while Giannis was sidelined with injury. Lopez topped the team in scoring, with 33 points, in Game 5, and Holiday added 27 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, and four steals in Game 6.
Nonetheless, without Giannis in the mix, the third-seeded Bucks face a trying, uphill battle to defeat Phoenix in the final tilt.
The Suns are a -250 favorite to triumph in Game 1 and are a -200 favorite to win the series.
Paul's time has arrived
At this point, predicting who will attain not only the Larry O'Brien Trophy, but Finals MVP, will come down to which team you think will finish out the series in better health.
Based on how the postseason has shaped up, thus far, Paul is destined to collect his elusive first championship ring and add the NBA Finals MVP award to his trophy haul.