National Basketball Association
2024 NBA playoffs bad beat: Jaylen Brown edges Jayson Tatum for Larry Bird Trophy
National Basketball Association

2024 NBA playoffs bad beat: Jaylen Brown edges Jayson Tatum for Larry Bird Trophy

Published May. 28, 2024 11:37 a.m. ET

When the Boston Celtics took a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers, the most compelling wager for most bettors became who would win the Larry Bird Trophy for MVP of the series. 

Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were the frontrunners to win the award for much of the series, with Brown ultimately won the Larry Bird Trophy following Boston's sweep of Indiana on Monday — but it wound up being a tough beat for those who had tickets on Tatum to win it.

Tatum regained the spot as the favorite to win the Larry Bird Trophy following his strong performance in Game 3, putting up 36 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the Celtics' 18-point comeback win. His odds to win the trophy moved to -170 ahead of Game 4 on FanDuel Sportsbook.

As Game 4 progressed, Tatum's odds to win the MVP of the series only shortened. He became an -800 favorite to win the award after scoring seven points in the first quarter. At one point in the second quarter, Tatum's odds to win moved to -1350. 


By halftime, Tatum owned -2100 odds to win the trophy, after putting up 16 points in the first half. 

Those odds remained at -2100 until late in Game 4, according to Michael Fiddle. Tatum had a solid showing in the fourth quarter, as he helped Boston come back from another late deficit, scoring seven points with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in the final frame.

But offensively, Brown took over in the final minutes of Game 4. 

He scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter before blocking Andrew Nembhard's layup as the game was tied with 1:05 remaining. On the following Celtics possession, Brown drove to the rim and kicked the ball out to Derrick White in the corner for what wound up being the game-winning 3-pointer. 

Those possessions were apparently enough for Brown to snag the Larry Bird Trophy, but it was a close vote. Brown received five votes while Tatum earned the other four. 

Statistically, Tatum had a stronger series than Brown, recording 30.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. However, Brown also put up a strong stat line in Boston's sweep of Indiana, posting 29.8 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals per game.

Brown also delivered in the clutch. 

In addition to his heroics in Game 4, he hit a game-tying 3-pointer with less than six seconds remaining in regulation of Game 1 to send it to overtime. 

Just as many bettors might have been surprised by the final vote for ECF MVP, Brown was also a bit shocked by the result.

"I wasn't expecting it at all — I never win s***," Brown told reporters after the game. "I was just happy we won."

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