The Phoenix Suns are leading the Milwaukee Bucks 2-1 in the NBA Finals, having completed their homestand and lost on the road in Game Three. Giannis Antetokounmpo has already made history in his first Finals appearance, joining Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James to score 40+ points and grab 10+ rebounds in consecutive Finals games.
The Bucks are marginal favorites for Game Four, with the prospect of knotting the series at 2-2 or a worst-case scenario, allowing the Suns to go up 3-1 heading back to the desert.
Chris Paul has unquestionably been Phenix’s best player through the first three games with a stat line of 24.7 points and 8.7 assists on 56.6% shooting and 50% from three. Paul’s 32 points in Game One led both teams, and he has recorded the high mark for assists in every contest thus far.
CP3 was considered by many to be the presumptive MVP, should the Suns have gone on to win, following a regular season in which he was voted onto the All-NBA Second-Team. This postseason, however, has brought an evolution in the “Point God’s” game, and he is relentlessly hunting his shot against mismatches and out of pick-and-roll scenarios.
The Greek Freak has been having one of the best playoff runs of all time but is not receiving enough credit for it because his free-throw routine takes a while. He is up to a 34.3-point, the 14-rebound average for the Finals despite returning from a hyper-extended knee a week after he was first injured.
Giannis may not be the typical American superstar, playing for a small-market team and not having the most elegant style of play, but he is making his case that he is the best player in basketball. Of course, he will have to win the Larry O’Brien trophy to give this claim any real credence, but he is balling uncontrollably.
No member of a losing team has won Finals MVP other than Jerry West, who did so in 1969; if the Bucks win, it is a foregone conclusion that the Freak will win the award, but even if they lose, he could have a chance at nabbing MVP.
Devin Booker has been very disappointing in the Finals through three games; although he is thought of as a mature, unflappable young player, it seems like the expectations may be increasingly growing to be too much for him to live up to. He is still a Finals MVP contender, however, because of his incredible talent and history of performing in the rounds prior.
With the way that the Bucks have gotten going lately and the superstar play of Giannis, Booker will be needed to produce multiple 30-point outings and make some clutch buckets to win the Finals in his first time asking.
Deandre Ayton, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday
Because they are afterthoughts in the headlines and are behind all-time greats in the pecking order, it is unlikely that any of these three have a shot at the trophy; the only scenario for Middleton or Holiday is if Giannis gets injured and the Bucks still win, while Ayton must score in the mid-to-high 20s for the rest of the series to bump his average up from 16.7 points and 13 rebounds.
NBA Finals MVP | The Field
It is highly improbable that any of the six players not mentioned above wins the NBA Finals MVP; the person with the best outside chance at this juncture is Mikal Bridges, and there is no real contender for the Bucks outside of their Big Three. Bridges is averaging 15.0 points and 3.3 points and scored a playoff career-high of 27 points in a Game Two victory.
Right now, Chris Paul is in the lead because of the Suns’ advantage, but Giannis is bearing down; soon, the NBA world will know who the best player in the NBA Finals is.