Lakers

Is LeBron or AD Finals MVP So Far?

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The Miami Heat will be fighting for their lives in Game 5 Friday as they face a 3-1 deficit. Those are nearly impossible to overcome. Just ask the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers. There’s still more basketball to be played, though.

But for the sake of discussion, and because I expect the Lakers to close out the series Friday night, let’s compare and contrast the two Lakers superstars during this NBA Finals series.

For LeBron James — it’s his 10th Finals appearance. He’s 3-6 so far with three Finals MVP awards to his name. For Anthony Davis — it’s his debut for the championship series and so far, he’s played like the First-Team All-NBA guy we’ve seen him be throughout the season.

James and Davis have both played extremely well so far minus Game 3. James finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists but had eight of the team’s 19 turnovers. He also managed just five points in the final frame — an early 3-point play plus a late, garbage-time dunk. AD produced just 15 points on nine shot attempts, committing five turnovers, four of which came in the first quarter. He played just 33 minutes, too, because of early foul trouble.

But as of now, it seems as if people are giving James the nod because he’s averaging a near triple-double. Although, both James and Davis have had memorable games and moments within those games that make this debate closer than people might think.

Let’s start with The King.

LeBron James

On the brink of concluding his 17th season in the NBA, the second-year Laker has been there, done that with just about everything you can think of. All-NBA selections, MVP trophies, buzzer-beaters, championships. He’s done it all.

Even this late in his career, however, the “washed king” continues to defy the odds on the biggest stage under the brightest lights.

Through four games, James is averaging 28 points, 11 rebounds, 8.5 assists and nearly a steal and a block in 38 minutes per game.

His highest-scoring performance, so far, came in Game 2 when he put up 33 points including 10 in the fourth quarter. He added nine boards and nine helpers and didn’t turn the ball over either. That was preceded by a 25/13/9 showing in the series opener.

Although, there’s a good chance we haven’t seen his best game yet, which is crazy to think. Prior to Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets, James told Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, “I’m going to end this s**t tonight.” He delivered to the tune of 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, clinching an NBA Finals berth.

James had this to say Thursday when asked about his success in series-clinching games:

“Just having that desperation coming to a close-out game. I’ve been victorious after having that mindset. But that’s just who I’ve become and how I’ve challenged and channeled my mindset.”

It hasn’t been all glamor for the three-time champion, however. In Games 3 and 4, James totaled 14 turnovers. The giveaways came in the form of telegraphed passes, mishandling the ball and simply throwing the ball away. We’re not used to seeing that from one of the best passers in basketball history.

And while turnovers were costly in the Game 3 loss, The King overcame his Game 4 mistakes with 28 points, 12 boards and eight assists. The night was capped off with an 11-point fourth quarter and this momentous play in crunch time.

https://twitter.com/Lakers/status/1313685473726873601

James is going to come out in kill mode Friday night, and barring a monster performance from his fellow First-Team All-NBA teammate Davis, the Finals MVP is his to lose.

Anthony Davis

The Brow has been nothing short of special in his first championship series. He dropped 34 points in Game 1, tied for the third-most all-time in a Lakers Finals debut. He followed that up with a 32-point, 14-rebound outing in Game 2.

Back-to-back 30-point displays in the first two Finals games of his career. That shouldn’t go unnoticed when it comes time to cast FMVP votes.

But sure enough, we can’t look at just the first two games because, well, there’s been four played, so far. Davis is averaging 26 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and nearly two blocks in 38 minutes per contest.

Perhaps his quiet Game 3 could’ve been better if wasn’t for a questionable charge call with 5:28 left in the second quarter. Davis attempted to drive right on Kelly Olynyk when the Heat forward drew an offensive foul. It would be Davis’ third foul, forcing him to sit the remainder of the half.

The 6-foot-10 forward bounced back in Game 4, however. He asked for the assignment of defending Jimmy Butler, according to Chris Haynes. This after the Heat star powered his team to a Game 3 victory with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. But Davis backed up his request.

He locked down Butler from the second quarter on, limiting him to just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting after Butler scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the opening frame. He also made two game-sealing plays, knocking down a dagger triple and blocking a Butler layup (start at 1:06).

Davis finished the game with 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks. It was his defensive effort on Butler, however, that really helped the Lakers take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

And the award goes to…

I’d give the Finals MVP to Davis if the series ended after Game 4. But it didn’t, and I think that James is going to be aggressive as the Lakers look to close this thing out Friday night. He’s going to put up numbers similar to the WCF series-clinching Game 5. That will put him over the top, giving him his fourth Bill Russell Finals Most Valuable Player trophy.

Finals MVP: LeBron James

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