Newly implemented into the 2022 NBA Playoffs are a pair of awards that celebrate the best performer of each side of the Conference Finals.
Fittingly, the Eastern Conference Finals MVP award will be named after Celtics legend Larry Bird. While the Western Conference Finals MVP award will be named after Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
This year’s 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Finals will see the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics face off! The Miami Heat will have a home-court advantage by nature of being the top seed in the East, but the Celtics were just behind them in second.
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The Miami Heat are a great all-around team, but they’ve struggled to keep up with high-powered offenses. It’s the Celtics’ series to lose, and Tatum’s success will determine their chances.
Jayson Tatum to Win 2022 Eastern Conference Finals MVP
Leading the charge ?? pic.twitter.com/UVlPppc1vB
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2022
The rising star of the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum has proven to be one of the best players of these 2022 NBA Playoffs. He’s become a true two-way threat, showing off his defensive prowess against the Nets, while showcasing his scoring ability against the Bucks.
Through Tatum’s 2022 NBA Playoff run, he’s averaged 28.3 points per game on 43.8% shooting from the field and 38.6% shooting form three-point range. He’s scored 29-plus points in 7 of his 11 playoff games this season. He’s been particularly effective from three-point range, converting on 3-plus three-pointers in 8 of his 11 playoff games.
Despite being the odds-on favorite to win the Eastern Conference Finals MVP Award, Tatum has struggled against the Miami Heat this year. Against the Heat defence, Tatum averaged just 17.7 points on 42.2% shooting from the field and 29.4% shooting from three. If he can maintain his playoff form despite his struggles against the Heat, there’s no reason he can’t take the award.
Jaylen Brown is a bad man pic.twitter.com/4nJ1HGvMKs
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 3, 2022
Jaylen Brown has been a capable second in-command for Jayson Tatum through the 2022 NBA Playoffs. On top of his efficient offensive contributions, he’s done well to contribute on the defensive end with 1.5 steals per game.
Brown was solid against the Heat this season, averaging 24.7 points per game on 45.5% shooting to make up for Tatum’s struggles in the season series. If the Celtics struggle against Miami’s defence, don’t be surprised to see Brown to take on the leading role with the Heat focusing on Tatum.
He is the first guard to receive the award since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. pic.twitter.com/kunKEW6ujj
— NBA (@NBA) April 18, 2022
Marcus Smart certainly isn’t the most popular choice to win the Conference Finals MVP, and if he does it won’t be on the back of his offensive contributions. If the Celtics win the series and Smart plays a crucial role in shutting down the production of the Heat stars, Smart will have a good chance at the Larry Bird Trophy. It’d be another feather in the cap of the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Against Philly, Jimmy Butler leads the Heat in:
▫️ Rebounds (tied)
Playoff Jimmy is back.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 12, 2022
Despite Miami’s success through the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Jimmy Butler has been a one-man show at times. He’s carried the scoring load for the Miami Heat, while also making up for Kyle Lowry’s absence in the playmaking department.
Through the 2022 NBA Playoffs Butler has averaged 29.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. He’s also been a menace defensively, collecting 2.3 steals per game while committing just 1.3 fouls.
Butler will need support from his teammates to take out the Boston Celtics, but there’s not changing his role now. The Heat forward will be leading the charge, so there’s no doubt that he’s their best chance at winning the Larry Bird Trophy.
Bam Adebayo rejected Jason Tatum the last time they met in game 1 ?pic.twitter.com/b3vDdo8n6q
— Babble Sports (@BabbleSportsTV) May 17, 2022
Bam Adebayo has grown into a splendid player, and a surprise contributor at that. He’s much more of a defensive presence, but his athleticism and touch in the paint has caused trouble for even the toughest interior defences.
Where Adebayo’s presence will be felt most will be on the defensive side of the ball. With Boston’s versatile offence, Miami’s success will depend on how Adebayo controls the court.
Too easy for Tyler Herro ? pic.twitter.com/bVJGo0FxVC
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 3, 2022
Boston Celtics players criticized Herro in 2020 after his performance in the NBA Playoff Bubble. He’s bounced back to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award this season, with his scoring being his greatest asset. Herro would have to step up to win the award, but his offensive prowess can’t be doubted.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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