The Warriors have a chance to close out the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, but with Draymond Green suspended for the showdown, it isn't exactly clear how they could do it. Golden State played just one game without its versatile forward this season—a regular-season loss to the Nuggets—and will have a tough time making up for its emotional leader's absence.
With Green suspended and the Splash Brothers yet to explode against the Cavaliers, there isn't an obvious pick for Finals MVP despite the Warriors' 3–1 advantage. Andre Iguodala, last year's Finals MVP, has turned in another strong showing against LeBron James and Co. Klay Thompson has been solid on both ends despite failing to catch fire. And Stephen Curry finally came on strong in Game 4, scoring 38 points in a decisive win.
With so much uncertainty around this year's race, SI.com paneled its NBA experts and asked: Who should win 2016 NBA Finals MVP?
Who should win 2016 NBA Finals MVP?
Ben Golliver: Andre Iguodala. I give the nod to Golden State's sixth man, who just so happens to be the reigning Finals MVP, because of his consistency and positive impact across the four games and because Draymond Green, the other leading candidate, was tagged with a one-game suspension for Game 5. Tasked first with limiting LeBron James, Iguodala has done an exceptional job, regularly poking the ball loose from James, contesting his shots, denying him clear paths to the basket, and keeping him off the free throw line. Cleveland's hopes in this series required an A or A+ level performance from James, and Iguodala is a major reason why James has been close to a B or B+ to date. It's not just the defense: Iguodala's passing and playmaking ability has been a key to Golden State's offense throughout this series. His 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio speaks to his excellent decision-making, and he has often picked apart Cleveland's aggressive defense by finding cutters. Add it all up, and Iguodala is a team-best +54 through four Finals games, easily topping Draymond Green (+36) and Stephen Curry (+12). Honestly, I might be swayed into the Curry camp if he follows up his 38-point performance in Game 4 with title-delivering brilliance on Monday. For now, though, Iguodala is the guy.
Rob Mahoney: Andre Iguodala. Were it not for his suspension, I would’ve picked Draymond Green—the Warriors’ most essential overall defender, their most effective center, a leading playmaker (5.8 assists per game in the Finals), and competitive rebounder no matter how much size he gives up. Yet the thought that Green will miss Game 5 can’t help but tip the scales when that single game could amount to 20% of the completed series. Iguodala seems the next-best choice. Things could still shake up if the series extends or if Stephen Curry closes out in spectacular fashion, though to this point it’s hard to work around the stellar two-way play of Iguodala. His matchup with LeBron James is only the beginning; Iguodala has deftly switched around to cover all kinds of opponents and found ways to stay near enough to the action to disrupt it. He isn’t scoring in volume, though the offense runs more smoothly in his presence due to his timely drives, back-breaking shooting, and eager facilitation. Give the man his due and another piece of hardware.
Matt Dollinger: Stephen Curry. If Andre Iguodala claims his second straight Finals MVP, he could have a strong case for Springfield, but I've got a feeling Stephen Curry steals the hardware from his deserving teammate. As much as this has been the season of the Warriors, it's also been a coronation of Curry. He won his second straight MVP—and the first unanimous selection in league history. He led his team to 73 wins. He cemented his status as the best player in the league. And he reinvented the way the game is played on the perimeter. Could voters be swayed into a "lifetime achievement" award for Curry's 2015–16 showing? Curry proved to be an effective decoy in the first two games of the Finals. Then he dropped 38 in a critical Game 4 win. It'd only be fitting for Curry to piggy-back off that momentum and explode one more time at Oracle Arena. A fire has been lit under the Warriors after Draymond Green's suspension. Can't you see Curry putting the Warriors on his back and torching the Cavaliers to finish them off? Curry started the Finals off slow, but the stage is set for a grand finale.
DeAntae Prince: Klay Thompson. Stephen Curry has endured multiple injuries, violent swings from game to game and rare bouts with poor shooting in the Finals. Draymond Green, the Warriors' emotional leader, let his emotions get the best of him when tested by LeBron James in an obvious attempt to rid Golden State of one of its best players. Through this all, Klay Thompson has been a rock for the Warriors. While others, like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, have stepped up and embraced the moment, Thompson has been the most consistent Warrior this postseason. If his Game 5 mirrors the 25–point performance before it and the Warriors close out without Green, Thompson could step to the forefront for Golden State.
Jeremy Woo: Andre Iguodala. It feels crazy that we’re about to have this discussion all over again, one year later. I was close to giving it to Steph—and with a strong Game 5 showing and a win, we probably will. His stats in this series are nowhere near as bad as the public perception of how he’s played. Then I thought about Draymond, but the suspension likely nips his MVP case. Iguodala’s defense has again been stifling, and again, much of it has come on LeBron James. The Warriors have outscored the Cavaliers by 54 net points during his playing time in the Finals despite Iggy failing to score more than 12 points in a game. His steadiness has been remarkable. When defending LeBron and his teams, it’s generally about bend-not-break defense, and without Iggy draped over James, who knows what this series looks like? Check back after Game 5, but barring a Steph explosion (or a Warriors loss), this is the way I'm leaning.