Words. Camron Ghorbi & Rey Jefferson
Ever since 1969, the League has awarded the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals with a trophy named after Bill Russell. And while Paul Pierce stormed through the playoffs to win the award in 2008, it was Kobe Bryant who captured his second straight Finals MVP in 2010. Although the NBA’s playoff award system begins and ends with the Finals MVP, here’s a full rundown of those deserving of some love after some impressive Finals performances:
MVP: Kobe Bryant
David Stern and Co. definitely got this one right. Even after a disappointing Game 7 performance shooting wise, finishing 6-for-24 from the field and 0-for-6 from three-point range, Mamba locked up his second Finals MVP by averaging 28.6 points in the series. And on a night when he wasn’t shooting his usual lights out, he contributed in other ways: 15 boards and defense in Derek Fisher‘s absence that held Ray Allen to 13 points on 3-of-14 shooting. In Boston, Kobe single-handedly willed his team onward in Games 4 and 5 with a combined 71 points. No doubt about this one.
Runner-Up: Pau Gasol
Defensive Player of the Series: Ron Artest
The only thing Lakers fans enjoyed more than Artest’s press conference after Game 7 (more on that later) was his defense on Pierce in his first ever trip to the Finals. The Celtics’ captain, whose 18-point Finals average was boosted by his meaningless 24 points in Game 1, was held to 10 points in Game 2, 15 in Game 3 and 13 in Game 6. After Pierce won the Finals MVP back in 2008, averaging over 21 points per game for the series, it was clear that the Lakers needed to do a better job defending Pierce this time around. With Ron-Ron’s help, they accomplished their goal.
Runner-Up: Ray Allen
6th Man: Glen Davis
Although Davis averaged a little over six points and five rebounds in the Finals, his impact could not be measured in personal statistics. Davis won the award for his energy off the bench for a team in need of a spark. Big Baby’s effort in the paint alone has earned him countless minutes under Doc Rivers. On the night he said he was feeling like a “beast,” he scored 18 huge points off the bench and teamed up with his partner-in-crime Nate Robinson for a Celtics victory in Game 4.
Runner-Up: Tony Allen
Best Individual Performance: Ray Allen’s first half of Game 2
Six three-pointers in a game is impressive in its own right, but six in one half of a Finals game is simply unheard of. Allen single-handedly shot himself into the NBA record books in Game 2, finishing with the most three-pointers ever made in a single Finals game (8) as the Celtics stole a game in Los Angeles. On a night when Celtic and Laker fans alike anticipated each and every Allen stroke, the sharpshooter’s 32 points led the Celtics to victory.
Runner-Up: Kobe Bryant’s third quarter of Game 5
Most Improved: Pau Gasol
Even Gasol’s crazy Finals averages (18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) do not do the Spaniard justice in recognizing his contributions to the seven-game series. After he was criticized for his soft play against the Celtic frontcourt in 2008, the new-and-improved Gasol looked tougher, stronger and improved in every facet of play. He stood toe-to-toe with the big bad Celtics and, in the end, outlasted and out-toughened them at their own game.
Runner-Up: Rajon Rondo
Best Postgame Speech: Ron Artest’s Game 7 Post-Game
Combine Artest with a bottle of champagne, and the result is: CRAZINESS! That’s the only way to describe it.
Runner-Up: Nate Robinson and Glen Davis Game 4 Post-Game (“Shrek and Donkey”)
What do you think?
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