NBA Finals MVP Odds: Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum Favored

The 2022 NBA Finals begin Thursday when the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors host the East champion Boston Celtics in Game 1. The Warriors are favored in that game and for the series so it makes sense that Dubs star guard Steph Curry is the +110 favorite to win Finals MVP – one of the few awards the future Hall of Famer doesn’t have.

NBA Finals MVP Odds 2022

Curry closed the West Finals Steph Curry finished with 15 points, nine assists, three rebounds, two triples, two steals and a block in the clinching Game 6 win over Dallas. In the first four games of the series, he averaged 26.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 4.0 triples and closed out strong to earn the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP. Curry has averaged 26.5 points, 6.2 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 triples and 1.5 steals across 28 career NBA Finals games.

The Warriors have a total of 123 player games of NBA Finals experience amongst five players (Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney). Four of those players – Curry, Thompson, Green and Iguodala – each have over 25 games of Finals experience. In contrast, the Celtics do not have a single player with Finals experience.

During the regular season, Curry named to the 2021-22 All-NBA Second Team, marking a franchise-record eighth All-NBA Team honor for Curry (First Team four times, Second Team three times and Third Team once). But Curry now faces one of his toughest defenders in Boston’s Marcus Smart the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Warriors have their second-worst offensive efficiency when Smart guards Curry.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr compared Smart to one of the Warriors’ star players.

“His strength and his anticipation, he’s got an incredible feel for the game at that end,” Kerr said of Smart. “He’s like the guard version of Draymond [Green]. He’s reading angles, he’s guarding all five positions, if he switches on to a five man, he’s so strong, he can hold them off. He’s quick enough to chase point guards around, big enough to guard wings so he can literally guard 1-5 in the modern game. He’s appropriately named, very smart player and really versatile and great, great defender.”

Curry had a relatively poor shooting performance in the first matchup between the Celtics and Warriors this season. While he scored 30 points, he shot just 8-of-21 from the field and 5-of-14 from deep, turning the ball over six times. In a March matchup, Curry scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting with four turnovers before leaving the game in the second quarter when Smart landed on his foot while diving for a loose ball.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum is the +175 second favorite for Finals MVP. Tatum won the first-ever Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award for his role in helping the Celtics defeat the Miami Heat and advance to their first NBA Finals since 2010. Tatum averaged 25 points, 5.6 assists and 8.3 rebounds while playing essential defense to help the Celtics seal the series victory. The 24-year-old’s resume now includes an Eastern Conference Finals MVP, three All-Star selections and two All-NBA nods.

“A guy that’s carried us throughout the season,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said of Tatum. “Asked a lot to be put on his shoulders and has delivered. You look at the numbers, 26-point night and that’s standard for him. That’s an average night for him. He’s averaged 27 this year, First Team All-NBA. So he knows a lot is relied upon him.”

There’s a big drop-off from Curry and Tatum to Boston’s Jaylen Brown (+1000) and Golden State’s Klay Thompson (+1400). Brown has played very well against Golden State since in recent years, averaging 17.1 points over seven career games against the Warriors and most recently dropping 26 points in a 22-point rout of the Dubs on March 16.

Brown’s biggest remaining contract incentive is worth $964,286 for winning the NBA Finals. That would come on top of his $25.3 million base salary for the year. The Celtics currently stand just $358,000 below the luxury tax line, which provided Boston with enough of a cushion to avoid the tax barring anything short of a NBA Finals win with Brown’s team contract incentives. However, Boston will eek into that territory with a win over the Warriors, missing out on $11 million in potential payouts to non-tax paying teams in a year with plenty of big spenders in tax territory between the Nets and Warriors.

This season, the Warriors have not been a better team with Thompson on the floor. In fact, the Dubs have a net rating over 11 points higher with him off the floor than on, and the Warriors’ other stars have been better with him on the bench. Golden State is shooting more accurately with Thompson off the court, hitting 40.9 percent of 3-pointers with him sitting and only 37.0 percent with him playing,

Expert Finals Pick

  • Steph Curry at +110

 

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