With the 2015 NBA Finals switching from Oakland to Cleveland for Tuesday's Game 3 with the Warriors and Cavaliers tied 1-1, it's a good time to check back in on the NBA Finals MVP odds at BetOnline. It's pretty clearly only a three-man race.
Can Curry Rebound From Disastrous Game?
Oddsmakers still like the Warriors to win the series despite the fact they could easily be down 2-0 after winning Game 1 in overtime only because Cleveland's LeBron James and Iman Shumpert barely missed game-winning shots at the end of regulation. Shumpert's looked like it was going in. The Cavaliers took Game 2 95-93 in overtime on Sunday, handing the Warriors just their fourth loss in 51 combined regular season and playoff games (Spurs and Bulls won there during season, Grizzlies in the conference semifinals).
So because the Warriors are -205 series favorites their best player, league MVP Steph Curry, remains the -150 betting favorite for series MVP. But he's going to have to play much better than he did in Game 2 not just to win MVP honors but also for the Warriors to win this series. Aussie pest Matthew Dellavedova started Game 2 after the Cavs lost All-Star Kyrie Irving to a season-ending broken kneecap in the Game 1 overtime. Dellavedova isn't in Irving's class an all-around player but he's better on defense and that was on display in Game 2 as Curry was a horrendous 5-for-23 overall and 2-for-15 from long range to go with six turnovers. He was so frazzled that he air balled a shot with under five seconds remaining in the OT and then threw a bad pass that ended the game on the next possession. Those 13 missed 3-pointers were an NBA record. Curry's 21.7 percent shooting percentage was the third-worst field goal percentage by a reigning MVP who took at least 15 shots in an NBA Finals game. The only player worse was Bob Cousy against the St. Louis Hawks in two games of the 1957 Finals (2-for-20 and 4-for-21).
According to the official game statistics, Curry was 0-for-8 when guarded by Dellavedova, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range, his worst shooting performance against a defender in any game this postseason. Overall, Dellavedova held the Warriors to 3-for-15 shooting, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range, and forced six turnovers as a primary defender. He was Curry's primary defender but you see only those eight attempts because obviously the Warriors use screens, etc., to try and get Curry free and a better matchup in terms of a defender. Has a potential Finals MVP ever had that bad of a game?
The best Warriors player in this series has been Klay Thompson, who seems like potentially nice value at +650. He had a solid 21 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the opener and 34 points, five rebounds and two assists in Game 2. He might be the guy who most benefits from Dellavedova harassing Curry.
So while I could see a Warrior other than Curry winning MVP, there's not a chance of a Cavalier other than LeBron James doing so. He's the +175 second-favorite. James played a whopping 50 minutes in Game 2 and put up a historic line of 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. He joined James Worthy (1988 Finals for Lakers) as the only players in Finals history to have a 35-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist game. It was James' fifth career triple-double in the Finals, which trails only Magic Johnson's eight. It was LeBron's seventh career playoff game with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. That's one shy of Oscar Robertson's record. True, LeBron shot only 11-for-34 from the field but that's like criticizing Picasso for painting outside the lines. LeBron James is now 9-0 all-time in Game 2s of a series when his team drops Game 1.
There's a huge fall off after Curry, James and Thompson and really no one worth your time to bet on. The next shortest NBA odds belong to Golden State's Draymond Green at +2800. He followed up a 12-point, six-rebound opener with 10 points, 10 boards, five steals and four blocks in Game 2. Green only got seven shots.