Ask multiple NBA followers to give their Finals MVP pick after Game 3 and you’ll likely hear a myriad of answers.
Some would go with Jayson Tatum, who, despite a porous shooting performance in Game 1 (3-for-17), doled out 13 assists in the road victory, followed up with 28 points and six boards in Game 2, and then put up 26 points, nine assists and six rebounds in Boston’s 116-100 Game 3 victory.
Others would unequivocally opt for Stephen Curry. His Warriors currently trail 2-1, but Curry’s scoring brilliance has been nearly unerring since his 21-point explosion in the first quarter of Game 1. He’s had consecutive showings of 34, 29 and 31 points for a sterling 31.3 PPG average.
But a third Finals MVP candidate is one whom very few had slated to earn the honor heading into the affair: Jaylen Brown.
In fact, Brown’s odds to make off with the Bill Russell Award were 10-to-1 heading into the series, and had moved to just 8-to-1 ahead of Game 3, despite Brown’s emergence as Boston’s preeminent scorer.
“I’m going to tell you right now, I think Jaylen Brown’s going to win Finals MVP,” he said Wednesday. “I might try to get more money down after this segment.”
Brown is on his way to Finals history.
Should his numbers hold steady (22.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.3 APG), he’ll become the 11th player since 1980 aged 25 or under to average 20+ PPG, 5+ RPG and 4+ APG in the Finals. Tatum is on the same path.
Brown currently ranks second among all Finals contributors in points per game (22.7), rebounds per game (7.3), fouls drawn per game (4.3), first–quarter points (34), first-half points (49), fourth-quarter points (13), plus/minus (+19) and usage (29.5).
He’s the only player to score more than 10 points in two separate first quarters thus far (13 in Game 2, 17 in Game 3), while his 17 first-quarter points in Game 3 are the most in a Finals first quarter since 1996.
And after Wednesday night’s showdown, Chris Broussard concurred with Wright’s pick.
“Jaylen Brown’s a legitimate star,” Broussard said Thursday. “He is Finals MVP right now, and I thought he was going into the game for the Celtics.
“He did in Game 3 what he’s done this postseason: Whenever their backs are against the wall, and they need something done, he steps up. Game 1, you’re down 12 after a horrible third quarter — he sparked the fourth-quarter rally with 10 points and two assists early in the quarter. And then last night, he comes out and sets the tone, goes directly at Draymond Green. He set the tone.”
“Jayson Tatum is robotic. It’s ironic that Kobe Bryant took Tatum under his wing, and the guy with the Mamba mentality is Jaylen Brown. You could see it spilling all over the court last night.”
“I don’t think anybody could’ve dealt with Jaylen Brown last night,” Bayless added. “Tatum started off 3-of-17 in Game 1, and then has a pretty good first half in Game 2, but in the second half, he completely disappears, and goes 1-for-3 as they lose the third quarter. Through the first two games, Jayson Tatum — soon-to-be superstar — shot 18% from two. That’s the lowest in the shot clock era in the first two games combined by any player ever.”
Brown’s been adamant that the only stat he cares about is winning. But if he keeps aiding his team’s efforts like he has been, he could win in more ways than one.
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