Celtics gift-wrapping NBA Finals MVP for Stephen Curry

The Warriors go into Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Boston with a 3-2 lead. Stephen Curry likely to become NBA Finals MVP. Almost definitely, given the range of results.

He was the favorite to start the series at -110 and is now the big favorite at -350. At this point, does it make sense to bet on Curry or go with another player in the series?

Let’s take a look at how we got here.

It’s a pretty boring result and one that I faded from the series. I thought there was no way the Celtics, who have defended Curry as well as anyone for the last four years, were going to let him score. But that’s exactly what they did.

They challenged Curry to beat them alone and attempted to take out the rest of the warriors. It could have worked too if the Celtics hadn’t kept fouling each other on offense.

Stephen Curry
AP

But there’s no Warrior to really credit for their defensive success, so the default comes back to “The Warriors will probably win, and Curry scored a lot.” [because that was the Celtics’ game plan]’, and so Curry will probably win.

What’s interesting is that even if the Celtics answer the siren call and fight their way back from a 3-2 deficit to become one of just 29 percent of all Finals teams to win the series in this scenario, Curry could still become Finals MVP.

Part of my (false) argument for why Curry wouldn’t win Finals MVP was based on my (erroneously) rejecting the idea that a player on the losing team could win the series outright. This has only happened once in NBA history.

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Also, the idea that Curry could have a monster streak and not win the streak didn’t feel plausible. Sure, Curry could have a dominant scoring streak (which he does) if the Celtics did something crazy like play drop coverage against him (which they did), but then the Warriors would almost certainly win the streak.

Indeed, entering Game 6 the Warriors are -400 to win the series at BetMGM thanks to Curry’s performance.

Jayson Tatum has an NBA playoff record for turnovers, and despite a solid Game 5, he hasn’t been great in any of the Celtics’ wins. Jaylen Brown was bad at the Celtics losses. Then you have Curry with just one bad game in the entire series, who has a chance to end his best finals performance with a game 6 or 7 masterpiece.

And even if the Warriors don’t win this game, it will likely be down to the Celtics defending against the other players much like they won Games 2 and 4.


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The market doesn’t leave much room for maneuver at the moment. If you got curry before the series or after game 1 on a plus number, congratulations, you’ve made a great bet that’s likely to make money.

If you are trying to get into this now, you are in a difficult situation. If you want to bet on Curry, you still bet him on a negative number, but you can wait until after game 6. Then game is 7 and the inherent uncertainty will bring the number down.

Tatum (+375) and Brown (25/1) are the obvious contenders. Specifically, Brown’s number is off. He was considered by some to be the MVP leader after Game 3 as he was the better player among those two in both of Boston’s wins.

Brown was terrible in the Celtics’ losses, but ultimately voters will remember Brown’s performance and not just take the overall stats Tatum leads.

So if you want to bet on the Celtics, just bet on Brown.

A great lesson to take away from these finals is don’t expect defensive covers. Boston made what is on the surface a crazy decision to basically have Curry film in this series. The Celtics are still playing high and are still desperately trying to bypass the screens and compete.

However, their defensive cover isn’t designed to shut off Curry’s water and turn him into a playmaker like so many other teams have tried.

I expected this to be Boston’s tactic and it burned me. Sometimes it really comes down to the “Keep It Simple Stupid” method and takes the best player in the series to win the finals as MVP. This player is Stephen Curry.

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