Mitchell has second best odds to win NBA Finals MVP after 45-point performance
Donovan Mitchell’s NBA Finals MVP odds got a significant boost following his dominant 45-point outing in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Utah Jazz shooting guard is now the second choice (+525) to win the coveted postseason award, behind two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant (+170).
NBA Finals MVP 2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:00 PM
Jazz find rhythm with a healthy Mitchell
Since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for more than a month, Mitchell has sparked a jolt of energy in the Jazz, who are currently riding a five-game winning streak in the postseason.
The fourth-year star is averaging 28.5 points per game in the playoffs and has led the top-seeded Jazz in scoring in five of the team’s six postseason games.
In Tuesday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers, Mitchell shot 16-of-30 from the field, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, and was nearly automatic from the charity stripe (7-of-8).
He also dished out five assists, grabbed three rebounds, and tallied a block and steal apiece.
Before the seventh-seeded Lakers bowed out in the first round against the Phoenix Suns, Mitchell owned +1000 odds to claim NBA Finals MVP. With LeBron James no longer able to defend last season's title, the Jazz are the new frontrunner to win the West.
In addition to Mitchell, Jazz center Rudy Gobert (+1400) has been a menace in the paint. He’s averaging a league-high three blocked shots per game in the postseason, and averages the second most rebounds of any player with 12.8.
Only Giannis Antetokounmpo (+1600) averages more (13.7) for the Milwaukee Bucks, who just got blown out in Game 2 of their series with the No. 2 seed in the East, the Brooklyn Nets.
Suns sear Nuggets with help of Booker, Paul
The Jazz's main competition in the West is Phoenix, who pummeled the Denver Nuggets, 123-98, in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.
Devin Booker, a +1100 choice to win NBA Finals MVP, led his team with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while veteran guard Chris Paul (+1800) dropped 15 dimes to go with 17 points.
Both players have been essential to Phoenix's rise in the West, but Booker — the Suns' leading scorer throughout the regular season and postseason — would most likely get the MVP nod, should Phoenix win the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Brooklyn is the team to beat in the East
In the East, Brooklyn has laid waste to Milwaukee in its first two games of the series, even without star guard James Harden, who missed most of Game 1 and all of Game 2 with a hamstring injury.
Brooklyn has been just fine in spite of Harden's absence because of Durant, who scored a combined 61 points over the past two games, in addition to racking up 14 rebounds, nine assists, three blocks, and two steals.
He piled up 32 points on Monday in only three quarters of play. The Nets maintained steady control throughout the game and held the league's highest-scoring team to 86 points — 34 points below its season average.
While Harden initally made for an enticing Finals MVP longshot, his health issues have further opened the door for Durant to claim his third MVP award.
Durant averaged the most points for the Golden State Warriors in the two NBA Finals in which he won MVP, and was either the first- or second-leading rebounder for his team in both Finals series.
He's on pace to continue that trend with the Nets, and has been a key catalyst in turning the tide of Brooklyn's fortunes.
If the Nets secure the franchise's first championship ring, Durant undoubtedly will receive his third MVP trophy.
Otherwise, if you're looking for a value pick, take your chances on Mitchell to carry his Jazz to a long-awaited NBA title.