Durant Takes Big Lead in Finals MVP Race; What About Curry?

Jason Lake

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 7:52 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2017 7:52 PM UTC

Kevin Durant might be the best player on the Golden State Warriors. But is he really that much better than Stephen Curry? The NBA odds for Finals MVP suggest as much.

Anytime you’re putting an MVP award in your NBA picks, you need to check your basketball fandom at the door. It’s important for any pick you make, of course, but even more so when the winner is determined in the court of public opinion rather than on the basketball court. With that in mind, let’s look at this year’s Finals MVP race. It’s a doozy: After two dominant wins by the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant has moved to –260 over at bet365, ahead of teammate Stephen Curry at +250.

Wait, what? Didn’t Curry just drop a triple-double on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2? Yes, and Durant led all scorers with 33 points to Curry’s 32. Durant was also the top scorer in Game 1 with 38 points. Scoring isn’t everything – you know it, I know it. But it’s the nine-member media panel that decides who wins the Bill Russell Award. I’m not on that panel yet. Are you?

They Got Game

Before we start throwing shade at the lame-stream media, let’s indulge ourselves with some advanced stats. Here are the Game Scores thus far for Durant and Curry – and Cavaliers superstar LeBron James – as per the good folks at Basketball Reference:

Game 1
Durant: 33.7
Curry: 26.0
James: 19.1

Game 2
Durant: 33.6
Curry: 26.2
James: 32.8

The plot thickens. According to this metric, Durant has outperformed Curry by a reasonable enough margin. It’s harder to play point guard than swingman, mind you, but Durant is also busy defending James, which might be the toughest gig in the NBA – and doesn’t necessarily show up in these Game Scores.

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Kevin Durant looking every bit like the Finals MVP. Early leader. By a mile.

— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) June 5, 2017

And now, the twist: We’re recommending James at +800 on the NBA odds board. It’s a flyer, but with everyone going bonkers over how dominant the Warriors were in the first two games, there should be some value in this contrarian pick. It would have been the right thing to do last year, as you may recall.

Free Pick: LeBron James (+800)Best Line: at Bet365
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