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Spurs youngster a great bet for NBA Finals MVP after huge Game 3

| 11.06.2014

Through the first two games of the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard had been a peripheral figure, scoring just 18 points in total from his pair of outings.

The entire Texan franchise’s identity revolves around their ageing three stars, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker but Leonard, the youngest player on the roster, is the antonym.

The starting small forward, and fourth option on offense, is a vital cog in Gregg Popovich’s well-oiled San Antonio machine, mixing energy and aggression on defence with scoring variety at the other end of the court.

Keeping the series level at 1-1 with Leonard so out of sorts is a testament to the Spurs’ strength, but there was no question they needed their 22-year-old generator to kick into action sooner rather than later if they were to break the Miami Heat’s two-year long stranglehold on the NBA Championship.

Sure enough, the San Diego State man delivered in Game 3, snapping out of his slump in spectacular fashion to register a career-high 29 points in a 111-92 San Antonio rout.

In what has been a tight series to date, with no one player dominating the first three games, Leonard’s 16/1 price to be the Finals MVP is certainly one worth having a flutter on now he’s relocated his groove.

Tasked with guarding LeBron James, who was quiet in Game 3 with 22 points on just 9-of-14 shooting, there’s plenty of ammunition for Leonard to claim the crown should he continue to keep the Heat star suppressed.

If his fantastic spring into offensive life continues, it’s hard to look past the Spurs’ team-orientated game trumping the Heat’s one-man reliance over the course of the series, something that can be backed at 2/5, while Leonard could be named the youngest MVP since Duncan won the honour as a 22-year-old in 1999.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.