Prior to Game One of the NBA Finals Thursday night, most of the money wagered on the Finals MVP was likely on either Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, or Draymond Green. But with how Game One played out, there appears to be a chance another candidate could emerge—Pascal Siakam.
The third-year pro turned in the kind of stat line Thursday night that voters like to see with 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists, a steal, and two blocks (and just two turnovers and three personal fouls). He was two for three from three-point range and 14-17 from the field.
Of course, it helped that the Warriors tried to minimize the impact Kawhi Leonard had on the game with double and sometimes triple-team coverage. With all the attention they paid Leonard, that meant the Warriors were willing to risk someone else beating them—which Siakam did.
“I think he played an amazing game, obviously, but he got out in transition, and our transition D was horrible, and I let him get in a rhythm in the first half, first quarter, really,” Draymond Green said after Game One, via ESPN.
One game will not make any player an MVP and the Raptors still need to win the series for any of them to be honored. But if Siakam can continue to have games like he did, he should be a candidate. At his current odds, that would mean a pretty decent payday for anyone that wagers on him (via BetOnline.ag):
- Stephen Curry +125
- Kawhi Leonard +200
- Pascal Siakam +800
- Draymond Green +1000
- Kevin Durant +1200
- Klay Thompson +1400
- Andre Iguodala +2500
- Fred VanVleet +3300
- Kyle Lowry +3300
- Marc Gasol +3300
- Serge Ibaka +5000
But how likely is Siakam to continue producing at an MVP worth level? Against the Bucks, he only scored in double figures in four of six games and recorded a double-double just twice. He was good but hardly MVP-worthy. Against the 76ers, he scored in double-digits in six of seven games and recorded a single double-double. Again—good but not award-worthy.
However, what could work in his favor during the Finals will be Golden State’s desire not to let Kawhi Leonard dominate a single game. If the Warriors continue to try to minimize him, Siakam will be expected to do more and should get the opportunity.
Of course, Leonard could break through the Warriors defense and still earn MVP honors himself. But if he doesn’t, Siakam could very well be the MVP—should Toronto go on to win the series.
However, if the Raptors don’t win, Steph Curry might not be a lock. He didn’t shoot well from the floor in the game and only scored 34 points thanks to a good night at the free throw line (14-14). Draymond Green didn’t shoot well either (2-9) and owed most of his ten points to the free throw line (6-6). But he did record a triple-double (ten rebounds and ten assists).
Should the Warriors win and Green records two or three more triple-doubles, Curry may have to wait until next year to be named the NBA Finals MVP.