The 18-2 Warriors meet the 17-3 Suns Tuesday night on TNT.
Every sportsbook in the United States has practically handed the NBA Most Valuable Player award to Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, and with good reason…even though it is still November.
MaximBet currently lists Curry with +140 MVP odds. Kevin Durant (+450) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800) are second and third on the MVP odds board, respectively, so you can see the vast divide.
The Warriors have the best record in the league (18-2), Curry is tied for the league lead in scoring and has already reached 105 3-pointers made—20 more than the guy in second place, Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings.
Curry is carrying his team with Klay Thompson and James Wiseman out due to injuries, so let’s just have the voters mail in their ballots today, right?
Well, it does not work that way. The NBA plays an 82-game season, and we are 20 games in. And yes, it is still November. And the season ends in April with the NBA Finals, where the Brooklyn Nets are still favored in MaximBet’s futures odds.
So that means that the MVP race is not what it may seem. We were in a similar place at the 20-game point of the season a year ago, when it appeared that Joel Embiid would run away with the award, and then he and every other contender not named Nikola Jokic went out for an extended period of time.
Phoenix is bringing a 16-game winning streak into this Tuesday night affair on TNT. And although they have an array of stars and no one singlehandedly doing for them what Curry is doing for the Warriors, they are going to influence a lot of voters if they defeat Golden State to run their streak to 17 games.
That is still a long way from the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1971-72 season, and for those who have short memories, we should remind you that Curry and the Warriors started the 2015-16 season 25-0.
The last time two teams with an .850 winning percentage faced each other (minimum 20 games into the season) was December 19, 2019 when the Lakers visited the Bucks and lost 111-104. Both teams entered with a 24-4 record (.857).
So, check your superlatives for a while. Yes, even when it comes to Curry, who recently got so mad when thought he got fouled by Terence Mann of the Clippers that he shook his fist at the official and picked up a technical foul. The moment spurred Golden State to a game-clinching 21-7 run that allowed the ‘Dubs to up their winning streak to seven games.
Before we continue on with “someone else might win the MVP award,” a few words of caution. Many voters fall in love with a player in a certain award category early in a season and hold that thought dear, even if it becomes obsolete.
So for anyone to catch Curry, they are going to have to make a heck of a case (or having Curry turn his ankle, which certainly would not be unprecedented).
“If you’re leading the league in scoring and your team has the best record, there’s no reason to look at anybody else,” said Brian Mahoney, lead NBA writer for The Associated Press.
Currently, Curry has shorter odds at MaximBet than he does at most other sportsbooks. Chris Paul is on Maxim’s board at +8000 and Devin Booker is +4000, so they are not exactly nipping at his heels.
Then again, Tuesday night’s game has not happened yet.
For what it’s worth, Booker entered Monday night’s game 13th in the league in scoring at 23.9 points per game, but he has reached 30 in three straight. He is a long way from even getting into the MVP discussion, but again … Tuesday could change some minds if Phoenix wins.
Paul leads the league in assists with 10.1 per game, 0.7 more than James Harden of the Nets. He is eighth in win shares (Curry is first) and 13th in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), while Curry is second behind Giannis Antetokounmpo.
All if this adds up to a convincing argument that the award is Curry’s to lose, which is absolutely true…to a point.
With more than 60 games remaining and the possibility of an injury disrupting the MVP race, it would be foolhardy to write everyone else off. So the trick in looking ahead to this epic NBA tilt is looking at the short term rather than the long term.
The Warriors lead the league in point differential at 13.7 per game, and they are a league-best 15-4-1 against the spread. Tuesday night’s game is being played in Phoenix, where the Suns have gone 8-2 with their most recent loss happening way back on October 27 against Sacramento.
The point spread for Tuesday’s game is Suns -2.5, which is about right given the length of the Suns’ streak, along with their opportunity to tie the franchise record of 17 consecutive wins, which will be a motivating factor. And let’s not discount the opportunity to tie Golden State for the Western Conference lead.
So for argument’s sake, let’s just say the Suns are going to win this one outright. If that is your belief, how should this be played?
Well, the moneyline is Suns -135 at MaximBet, so if you want to put $135 down to win back $100, that may be your idea of fun, but we would wager $2 that you’re are not going to find Kardashian-level excitement with that play.
But what about looking further ahead? Right now, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is the Coach of the Year favorite at MaximBet at +500 odds, with Billy Donovan (Bulls) right behind him at +600 and Monty Williams (Suns) at +700.
With Wes Unseld Jr. of Washington and J.B. Bickerstaff of Cleveland having fallen back to earth from the viable longshot category, why not put your best Benjamin on Monty?
Voters like to make up for past transgressions, and while voting Tom Thibodeau of the Knicks the Coach of the Year last season, they sort of unwittingly shortchanged Williams, whose team made it all the way to the NBA Finals after having gone 8-0 in the Orlando bubble.
Williams is a worthy high-reward wager at those odds, especially because Curry seems like such a lock for MVP at this point. Voters like to spread the love around, so putting Curry, Kerr and perhaps Draymond Green (Defensive Player of the Year candidate) all on the same ballot is not something you are going to see from too many voters.
Go with your gut on this one, and if you believe the ‘Dubs are going to end that streak then this will be one of the few opportunities to get them on the money line at +115. Again, that is not going to get you a date with Kendall Jenner should she rid herself of Booker, but it’s your money. Wager it wisely, please.
And if your gut tells you to go for the bigger payoff over a longer period of time, consider that Williams for Coach of the Year wager. It will not pay out until June if it wins, but by June we will all be through the Winter of Omicron and the accompanying bullshit storm in the political and mainstream media worlds.
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