Why LeBron James’ NBA Finals MVP Odds Is Sharpest Lakers Bet
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Everything is falling into place for the Los Angeles Lakers. After Anthony Davis’ buzzer-beating game-winner on Sunday night against Denver, the Lakers are now within two games of their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.
They have moved past their up-and-down performance early in The Bubble and seemed to have hit a stride at the perfect time. But perhaps more important than what the Lakers have done in the postseason is what other contenders failed to do.
The top two favorites alongside the Lakers – the Clippers and Bucks – each bowed out in Round 2, and oddsmakers drastically shifted title odds in the wake of those upsets. Following Davis’ buzzer-beater, the Lakers are now -400 in the latest NBA title odds, followed by the Heat (+550), Celtics (+700), and Nuggets (+5000).
Those -400 odds aren’t outstanding value despite the Lakers being the clear favorites. But there’s good news for bettors who believe in LA to bring home their 17th title: LeBron James’ odds to win Finals MVP at -125. Here’s why if you are betting on the NBA, you should jump on them.
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A Lakers Title Means a LeBron Finals MVP
Through 14 postseason games, James is averaging 25.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 8.7 assists in just 34.2 minutes (his previous postseason career low in minutes was 38.2 in 2014). With all due respect to Davis (28.7 points, 10.7 rebounds), James has been the Lakers’ best player in The Bubble.
But that may not even matter. James recently spoke about being “pissed off” that he received just 16 first-place votes in the MVP race to Giannis Antetokounmpo (a regular season award). That’s a motivating factor for James in these playoffs, but it will also be a factor for the media who votes on Finals MVP at the end of the series.
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James is in Year 17, he’s 35 years old, and was written off by some after a groin injury in 2019. For the Lakers to be where they are and on the cusp of a title is a testament to James, even while playing with the best sidekick he’s ever had.
If the Lakers win the championship, James will win Finals MVP. It would take an historical performance from Davis – think averages of 40 points and 15 rebounds – to overshadow James to the point of winning Finals MVP. James has earned Finals MVP each of the three times his teams won the title. The Lakers’ -400 odds may feel safe given LA is six wins from a title. But the safer play for Lakers believers is James winning Finals MVP. You can grab those odds at DraftKings.
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Anthony Davis’ Finals MVP Odds Shrinking, Too
If you are a believer in this being the season James passes the torch, Davis’ odds to win Finals MVP odds provide even more value. James’ sidekick currently has +225 odds and is rolling with a narrative of his own after the Game 2 buzzer-beater. Again, Davis would need to explode to get the nod over James, but he’s certainly talented enough to do it.
ANTHONY DAVIS. FOR THE WIN.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 21, 2020
(📺: TNT) pic.twitter.com/qolqy9DHMY
Value for Heat, Celtics Finals MVP
How to spot a Finals MVP? Points per game. If there isn’t a LeBron James-like narrative in play, the safest bet is to find the winning team’s leading scorer in the series to win Finals MVP. That has been the case 13 of the last 15 NBA seasons.
Goran Dragic leads the Heat in scoring in the postseason (21.6 points; +2600 to win Finals MVP) but it’s a safe bet that Jimmy Butler would lead Miami in scoring if they were to take down the Lakers to win a championship. Butler currently has +1200 odds on BetMGM.
For Boston, Jayson Tatum has exploded in Year 3, averaging a team-best 25.3 points per game. His +1300 odds to win Finals MVP is a better value than Boston’s +700 NBA Finals betting odds to win the title at FOX Bet.