Boston Celtics

Tatum not focused on Finals MVP, would be ‘ecstatic' just to win title

The Finals MVP award is still up for grabs.

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Jayson Tatum would love to be voted the MVP of the 2024 NBA Finals, but the Boston Celtics forward knows that the most important objective is winning the championship.

The Celtics have a chance to clinch their 18th title in franchise history in Monday night's Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks. Boston leads the series 3-1 after losing to the Mavericks in Game 4 in Dallas last Friday night.

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown is the current betting favorite for the Bill Russell Finals MVP Trophy right now, but it's not a lock, and a great performance by several Celtics players in a title-clincher has the potential to sway the final vote.

How important is winning Finals MVP to Tatum?

"It's important, but it's not the main thing," Tatum told ESPN's Malika Andrews in a recent interview. "Isiah Thomas didn't win Finals MVP every time. Tim Duncan didn't win Finals MVP every time. Larry Bird. Steph Curry only has one. Kobe (Bryant) won two out of five championships.

"As a competitor, you want to win and accomplish everything in front of you, but I would not be the slightest bit sad if I didn't win Finals MVP. I would be ecstatic just to win the Finals."

The winning team's best player usually wins Finals MVP, but that's not always the case, and Tatum named several examples in quotes above.

Tatum could still win Finals MVP if the Celtics close out the series.

He ranks second on the Celtics in points (20), first in rebounds (7.8) and first in assists (6.3) per game during the Finals. Brown has a slight lead in points per game (20.8) and a much higher field goal percentage (49.2 to Tatum's 36.5) in the series. But one good game has the potential to change that stats quite a bit.

Tip-off for Game 5 is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC, with Celtics Pregame Live beginning at 7 p.m on NBC Sports Boston.

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