NBA: Nikola Jokic dominates game 1, favoured to win Finals MVP trophy

Kahfeel Buchanan
Kahfeel Buchanan
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NBA: Nikola Jokic dominates game 1, favoured to win Finals MVP trophy

The Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in game 1 of the NBA Finals 93-104, thanks in large part to a great game from Nikola Jokic’s. With the Nuggets up 1-0 in the series, and Jimmy Butler having a rough night on Thursday. It’s safe to say Jokic is leading the race for Finals MVP. But there are still a lot of games left in the series, and time for someone to make a strong solid case for the award.

Quick Take

  • Nikola Jokic favoured to win Finals MVP
  • Butler off to an inauspicious start
  • Denver Nuggets win game 1

The betting favourite

Nikola Jokic had an impressive NBA Finals debut with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists, not to mention a triple-double. Jokic’s passing was a huge reason why the Nuggets won game 1. Jokic, the favourite on NBA betting sites, has -345 odds to win the award on 888sport. The two-time MVP is the betting favourite to win the NBA Finals MVP award for a lot of reasons. His team is the betting favourite in the series, and the award usually goes to the best player on the winning team. There are some exceptions, like Andre Iguodala in 2015.

Overall, the best player on the winning team almost always wins the award. Jokic taking home NBA Finals MVP might come down to whether or not his team wins the championship. Jokic is heavily featured in the Nuggets offense, he contributes by scoring and passing. He also has the ability to put up triple-doubles on a nightly basis. With so many ways to impact the game, Jokic could still win the award without putting up huge numbers. 

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler had an inauspicious start in game 1 of this series after winning Eastern Conference Finals MVP against the Boston Celtics. Butler scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and had seven assists. That was Butler’s lowest scoring game of the entire postseason this year. However, Butler did score 14 points in game 5 and 16 points in game three against the Celtics, so he isn’t out of the race yet.

Like Jokic, if Butler is going to win Finals MVP, the Heat will most likely need to win this series. If the Heat lose and Jokic and Murray continue to play like they did in game one, Butler has no shot. He’s been one of the best performers in these playoffs and should have a big game or two if the previous series are an indication of anything because the Nuggets aren’t great on defense. Butler is still a strong candidate for the award.

Does anyone other than the favourites have a chance?

The answer is yes. After a huge game 1 performance, at times looking like the Heat’s only consistent option on offense, Bam Adebayo has emerged as an option to consider. He has the fourth best odds to win the award at +2500. Adebayo scored 26 points to go along with 13 rebounds and five assists. For most of the night, it looked like the Nuggets did not have many answers for Adebayo. His contributions on offense and defense will give him a good case if the Heat win and Butler struggles on offense in this series.

Jamal Murray has the third best odds at +900. Murray continued his strong postseason play in game 1. He had 26 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. With numbers like that, he will have a great case for Finals MVP if he’s consistent. Murray’s biggest roadblock is his teammate Nikola Jokic. Jokic is a better passer than Murray and a better rebounder. He also scores more points. Murray will need to have the series of his life while Jokic struggles to get the award.

Caleb Martin has +5000 odds to win the award. After scoring three points in game one, his chances look slim now. Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. should not be ignored, but they will probably need injury help because Jokic and Murray have consistently put up huge numbers.