As the saying goes, never put the cart before the horse. But for the sake of this conversation, let?s look at the value of a potential wager of Jayson Tatum to win NBA Finals MVP.
If the Boston Celtics are to close out the series against the Miami Heat, these prices may vary. At the moment, FanDuel Sportsbook has the Celtics star at +220 to win the MVP, a number that probably won?t last.
So here are three reasons why now is the time to place this wager.
Jayson Tatum has already led the Celtics down an incredible path to success this postseason. In the very first game of the first round against the Brooklyn Nets, he hit the game-winner at the buzzer. In that same game, he set the tone for the rest of the playoffs. In addition to scoring 31 points, he also played stellar defense against one of the game’s all-time greatest scorers Kevin Durant. Tatum would go on to outperform not only Durant, but Celtics nemesis Kyrie Irving as well, including a monster 39-point showing in Game 3 of that series. Then he set his sights on the defending champion Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Several times in the series, Tatum and Giannis matched up one-on-one and both men got the best of each other. Tatum nearly scored 30 plus points three times in the series and 46 points in an elimination game to force a game seven. As the Celtics would advance, Tatum still had another superstar he needed to best in Jimmy Butler. If the Celtics can close out this series against Miami, then you must give Tatum credit for beating a who?s who of NBA titans on his way to the Finals. It?s not inconceivable that the stars on the Golden State Warriors could be next to face defeat at the hands of Tatum.
This impressive, herculean playoff run by Tatum hasn?t come without roadblocks. He has dealt with a shoulder injury during this Heat series. But just like the Celtic greats before him who all had to overcome obstacles, including injuries, Tatum just continues to push through. Tatum injured his shoulder in Game 3 in Boston and was only able to muster 10 points in a loss. There were questions about whether he would be able to play in Game 4. Not only did he play with the injury, but he also overcame 1-of-9 shooting and four points in the first half to finish just an assist away from a triple-double in a Celtics win.
Tatum has achieved historic milestones along the way while playing banged up. In Game 5, he became the second-youngest player to reach 1,500 career postseason points. He may also have an opportunity to become the first winner of the Larry Bird Trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference finals MVP. If the Celtics can close out this series against Miami, then you must give Tatum credit for playing hurt in the playoffs like so many Celtic greats of the past. The time off before the Finals begin will only help Tatum get healthy for the Warriors.
3. THE MATCHUP WITH GOLDEN STATE
All the talk leading up to the NBA Finals will be about Golden State?s dynasty and for good reason. The Warriors are the first team to reach the Finals six times in an eight-year span since Michael Jordan?s Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. In fact, the few times the Warriors didn?t make it to the Finals during this run was because the core group of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green wasn?t healthy. That core is healthy again, but this current iteration of the Warriors isn?t as deep as those past championship teams. If you believe that defense wins championships then Boston has the advantage in that department.
The Celtics also appear to have a deeper bench as well with contributions from Derrick White, Payton Pritchard, and Grant Williams. The team size advantage of the Celtics could prove to be valuable as well. Jonathan Kuminga, Kevon Looney and Green are the ?big bodies? for Golden State. Boston should be able to attack the paint freely and that?s an advantage for Tatum. Although he can shoot, at 6-foot-8, Tatum also has a propensity to attack and finish at the rim. Boston could be looking to slow the tempo of the Warriors down and put the emphasis on a half-court style of offense. Tatum would be the lynchpin to executing that game plan.