NBA Finals MVP Picks | Celtics vs Mavericks Most Valuable Player Bets

The Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award is given to the player deemed the most valuable on the winning team at the conclusion of the championship series. The award usually goes to one of the top players on the team, as opposed to a key role player. Last year, Nikola Jokic won Finals MVP for the Nuggets. The year before that, Steph Curry won for the Warriors. Before that, Giannis Antetokoumpo won for the Bucks. 

Over the last 15 years, the only true “role player” to win Finals MVP was Andre Iguodala, who won it for the Warriors back in 2015. Aside from the four names previously mentioned, the only other players to win Finals MVP since 2008 are LeBron James (4), Kawhi Leonard (2), Kevin Durant (2), Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant (2), and Paul Pierce – all bona fide stars on their respective championship teams.

So, where does the value lie in this series? Read below for my NBA Finals MVP picks for this year’s championship series between the Celtics and Mavericks.

NBA Finals MVP Picks

  • Luka Doncic +210 (0.75u) / Kyrie Irving +2000 (0.25u)
  • Jaylen Brown +600 (0.33u)

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Luka Doncic (+210) / Kyrie Irving (+2000)

It would be incredibly poetic for Kyrie Irving to complete his comeback story with a chef’s kiss by winning Finals MVP against his former team. But, the fact of the matter is, he simply hasn’t been aggressive enough throughout an entire series to warrant much respect in this market. Irving is listed at +2000 to receive the honors. However, in theory, Kyrie is a big name that voters would feel comfortable voting for if he carries Dallas to a key win or two in this series, and he’s popped for 30+ points on north of 50% shooting in three of his last five games – which scares me enough to buy a quarter-unit of insurance on Kyrie at 20-to-1, just in case. But my main wager for this category is Luka Doncic to win Finals MVP at +210.

In Dallas’s previous series, Doncic was awarded Western Conference Finals MVP – and it was well-deserved, as Luka averaged 32.4 points per game on 47% from the field, to go along with 9.6 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game in a quick, five-game series against Minnesota.

In the Western Conference Semis, however, no award is given, so we’ll never know. But, I’m not so sure he would’ve received the honors. The Thunder heavily prioritized Luka defensively early in the series, and it worked to some extent, as Doncic continued to lead Dallas in field goal attempts (77), and made only 39% of them in the first four games. But, it came at the cost of leaving PJ Washington with enough space to average 21.8 points on 49% from the field and 51% from long range in those four contests – and personally, I would’ve casted my hypothetical vote to PJ after stepping up and finishing second on the team in scoring in the series on nearly 50% from all areas of the floor.

With that in mind, however, I still have no interest in flirting with anybody outside of the top-4 names in the Finals MVP market. Sure, you could spin a case for a few more guys. PJ went off in the Western Semis. Boston struggles to defend the rim, so maybe we’ll see a dunk-a-thon from Dereck Lively and Daniel Gafford. Maybe Derrick White or Jrue Holiday will lock-up Luka and assume the bulk of the credit like Kawhi did for defending LeBron back in 2014.

However, given the history of the award, if something fluky happens, and a role player wins Finals MVP, I think you just have to cut your losses and tip your cap to them. It’s so rare for a non-superstar to win the award. Why bother?

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Jaylen Brown (+600)

The Celtics (-220) are listed as steep favorites to win the NBA Finals. But, for half the price, you can get Boston’s best player, Jayson Tatum (-120), to win Finals MVP instead. So, if you think Boston is going to win the series, betting on Tatum to win MVP seems like a bargain, right?


Jaylen Brown was named Eastern Conference Finals MVP in the Celtics’ sweep of Indiana in the previous round. So, the natural pattern of award distribution and credit attribution, in general, may lead some bettors to assume that it’s “Tatum’s turn to win MVP in the Finals” if Boston wins the series, but I’m not so sure that’s the case.

Tatum and Brown usually serve as a one-two punch for Boston: with Tatum being the one, and Brown the two. Tatum averaged 26.9 points per game on 47.1% from the field and 37.6% from 3-point range during the regular season, while Brown averaged 23 points per game on 49.9% from the floor and 35.4% from long range. 

In the playoffs, however, the gap between Boston’s two superstars has significantly narrowed, and quite frankly, Brown has been the better offensive player this postseason. Tatum is averaging 26 points per game on 44.2% from the field and 29% from 3-point range since the start of the playoffs, compared to Brown sitting right behind him at 25 points per game, but much more efficient at 54.1% from the floor and 36.8% from long range in a small sample size of 14 postseason contests. 

Personally, I’m picking Dallas to win this series. But, regardless of which team you are betting on, I still see value in taking an additional flyer on Brown to win Finals MVP at +600. In the playoffs, Tatum and Brown have been much closer to a 1A/1B situation, as opposed to a one-two punch, and at the current price tag, I want a ticket on Brown to win Finals MVP in my arsenal either way. However, if you are somebody picking Boston to win the series, and you are also considering a dabble in the Finals MVP market, I highly recommend buying some insurance with a sprinkle on Brown, in addition to the obvious choice of Tatum.

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