Giannis Antetokounmpo the clear frontrunner in latest NBA Finals MVP odds
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is now a +110 favorite to win his first NBA Finals MVP award after he poured on 40 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in Saturday’s 115-111 overtime win against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.
NBA Finals MVP 2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:00 PM
Giannis, Middleton lead charge in Milwaukee
Antetokounmpo was the team’s leading scorer in all but two games in the seven-game series with the second-seeded Nets, while he led the way in rebounding in five of those games as well.
His 40-point outing on Saturday marked his fifth straight game with 30 points and 10 rebounds, which ties the Bucks’ playoff record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974.
As the face of Milwaukee’s franchise, Giannis makes an obvious case for team MVP, but teammate Khris Middleton (+3000) has also played a major role in the Bucks' run.
In Game 6, Middleton racked up a team-high 38 points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists.
In Saturday’s contest, the veteran small forward added 23 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists, and hit the tie-breaking shot to put the Bucks up 113-111 with 40 seconds remaining in overtime.
Middleton's bucket came after longshot MVP candidate Brook Lopez (+25000) blocked a Durant layup attempt, then grabbed a defensive board and pushed the ball up the court.
Lopez recorded four blocks in Game 7 and tallied six in Game 2. His presence in the paint makes the No. 3 seed Bucks a tough out on any night, but his chances of an MVP win are slim should Milwaukee score the franchise’s second NBA title.
Giannis, a two-time league MVP, makes the most sense here. It will take an otherworldly performance by Middleton or Lopez to unseat the superstar forward as the team’s most valuable player.
To reach the ultimate series of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Milwaukee must first take down the feisty, fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks, who stunned the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series.
Point guard Trae Young is a +1200 choice to win Finals MVP, but the Hawks own the worst odds (+1100) to claim the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Booker, Paul neck and neck in Finals MVP race
In the West, the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns and fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers are in the midst of battle in the Western Conference Finals while both teams play shorthanded.
In Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals with the Utah Jazz, the Clippers lost Kawhi Leonard to a knee injury, which could sideline him for the remainder of the postseason.
Phoenix, who swept the Denver Nuggets in the conference semis, found out last Wednesday that All-Star guard Chris Paul had been placed in COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
In Game 1 of the conference finals series on Sunday, Devin Booker — the +300 second choice to win NBA Finals MVP — recorded his first career triple-double (40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists) in a 120-114 victory.
Paul George (+900) led L.A. with 34 points, while Reggie Jackson scored 24 and grabbed six rebounds.
While Leonard's injury status is still unknown, the odds of Los Angeles advancing past Phoenix without him are poor.
Currently, the Bucks and Suns maintain +100 and +140 odds, respectively, to win the NBA crown, so looking for an MVP candidate on either roster is your best bet.
Back Paul to win first NBA title and Finals MVP
Booker is a solidified star in Phoenix, but Paul, at +450 odds, is the better play.
The 11-time All-Star is reportedly symptom-free since testing positive for COVID-19 and should return to the lineup before the end of the current series.
The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer has long been a premier player in the league but has never won a ring.
Even in his 16th NBA season, he's still one of the best on the court, and on Phoenix, there is arguably no player who has been more critical to the franchise's swift turnaround.
Paul ranks first in PER (player efficiency rating) on his roster, and was 12th among all players in the league in VORP (Value over Replacement Player). In win shares, he ranked sixth in the NBA, behind only league MVP Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Damian Lillard, Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler.
With Paul in the lineup, Phoenix has been the most dominant team in the postseason. Considering all he has achieved and endured throughout his career, it's difficult to imagine voters awarding MVP to anyone other than Paul, should he finally collect his — and Phoenix's — first ever championship.