The first game of the NBA Finals is in the books and Boston has a 1-0 series lead. Let’s dive into the performances last night, the adjusted Finals MVP odds and find some value as we try to find the winner of the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award.

NBA Finals MVP Ladder

1. Jaylen Brown (+310) | Game 1: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists 

 

In the pivotal third quarter when Luka Doncic and the Mavericks cut the Celtics’ lead to eight points Brown was one of the keys to extending the lead back out. He forced the issue and got to the free throw line twice to get the lead back to 13 points. Then he erased an alley-oop attempt from Derrick Jones Jr. and followed that up by blocking Jones on his ensuing offensive rebound. Brown then wrapped the quarter by hitting Al Horford for a 3-point shot that put Boston up by 19 and hit his own 3-point attempt to increase the deficit back to 22 points. Once again, the Eastern Conference Finals MVP showed up when his team needed him most.

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2. Kristaps Porzingis (+550) | Game 1: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks

Porzingis could have been ranked first today, but most of his damage was done in the first half. Oh, but what a half it was. Porzingis dropped 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, went 2-of-3 from deep and grabbed three rebounds to go with two blocks. In his 13 minutes the Celtics were +15 and he was the reason they entered the half with such a massive lead. Porzingis figures to be a massive piece of Boston’s game plan as this series moves forward. Dallas has no one to defend him, and he made Dereck Lively look like the rookie he is. I can understand anyone who wants to jump on Porzingis to win this award, but he is second right now.

3. Luka Doncic (+350) | Game 1: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist

Doncic put up massive numbers in this contest, but much of it felt like empty calories. He was the driving force behind Dallas’ fake comeback in the third quarter though. He scored 10 points in the quarter on 4-of-8 shooting. Doncic also grabbed six of his 10 rebounds in the frame and had two steals. He also had – what seemed to be at the time – a massive moment of hitting the stepback 3-pointer that cut the deficit to eight points. Still, he was a minus on defense and the Mavericks were outscored by 10 points in his time on the floor. His third quarter performance gets him here, and he is the only Dallas player deserving of consideration at this point.

4. Jayson Tatum (+120) | Game 1: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists

Tatum takes the fourth spot on my ladder only because he is the star for Boston, and stars always have massive pull for voters. Let’s be clear, Tatum was not horrible. He played tremendous defense throughout the game and was fantastic on the glass, as he was the leading rebounder on the night. Tatum even contributed during Boston’s rally in the third quarter. He grabbed an offensive rebound off a Porzingis missed 3-pointer and assisted on Porzingis’ follow up dunk, and a few possessions later hit his own triple to extend the lead to 16 points which caused Jason Kidd to call a timeout. Still, Tatum was quiet and inefficient. He went 6-of-16 from the floor and had a points per 100 shot attempt rate of just 0.941 points. Considering how impactful some of his teammates were, I believe it’s fair to put him fourth.

5. Jrue Holiday (+12000) | Game 1: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists

Another quietly dominant night for Holiday on Thursday. The former champ led the Celtics in plus/minus at +20 and was an efficient 4-of-9 from the floor. Even more importantly, he was great on defense. One of the biggest concerns for Boston was the size mismatch that Doncic could exploit with Holiday. Doncic got a few on him, but Holiday held up on that end against him. He also played a massive role in holding Kyrie Irving to 12 points on 6-of-19 shooting. Holiday will likely not win the award, but his value is much higher than what 120-1 would indicate.