The 2016 NBA Finals could come to a close on Monday night, when the Golden State Warriors look to repeat as champions with a game five home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Dubs defeated the Cavaliers in six games a year ago, finishing Cleveland off on the road in a sixth game at Quicken Loans Arena. Tonight they can make an even quicker exit from the Finals and do it all on their own floor.

If they do it, however, they’ll do it without the services of Draymond Green, who has been suspended for game five due to having too many technicals on the year. Green surpassed the allotted amount after striking LeBron James in the groin near the end of Golden State’s game four win in Cleveland.

While the Warriors could wrap things up without Green, his absence strikes up a totally different conversation: could he still win Finals MVP even if he’s not playing in the final game of the series? And if not, who wins it?

At this point, no one in Cleveland deserves it. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have had their moments, but they’ve both been erratic and in a lot of ways disappointing. Richard Jefferson has stepped up his game and Tristan Thompson has been a monster on the boards, but no one from Cleveland has done enough on a consistent basis to earn such high praise. The Cavs would have to force this series to six or seven games to get a good, hard look, regardless.

With the series very possibly ending tonight, NBA fans and media pundits are forced to wonder who it could be. We break down the five top NBA Finals MVP contenders:

2016 NBA Finals MVP Odds

  • Stephen Curry  2/7
  • Draymond Green 5/1
  • Klay Thompson  5/1
  • Andre Iguodala ) 15/2
  • LeBron James  10/1
  • Shaun Livingston  25/1
  • Kyrie Irving  35/1
  • Harrison Barnes  50/1
  • Tristan Thompson  200/1
  • JR Smith  500/1
  • Kevin Love  500/1

Curry leads this list of the only realistic candidates and their respective odds. If the Cavs lose on Monday night, their candidates are wiped out, leaving just the top Warriors options.

Shaun Livingston

Livingston would not be a huge shock even though he’s a backup, as he was amazing in a big game one win and has really been outstanding for much of the playoffs. As good as he’s been, though, he scored 20 points in game one and hasn’t topped even nine in any of the three games since.

He’s been valuable and reliable, but he’s just one part of an amazing supporting cast that pretty much won games one and two without Golden State’s best players playing all that well. He’s a key to the series and another big game would prop up an argument, but he’s not actually winning this thing.

Klay Thompson

Thompson deserves a mention thanks to a solid game four performance and the talent that he is. Golden State wouldn’t be where they are right now without him and he might be the best overall two-way player the Dubs have.

That being said, he’s fourth out of five here because he was so quiet through the first three games. He did play excellent defense for most of this series and showed up when it mattered most in game four. He’d need a massive game five performance to rise up an snag the trophy, however.

Draymond Green

It’d be really funny to see a Finals MVP winner that isn’t even on the court when game five ends and the confetti flies throughout Oracle Arena. Then again, it’s hard to deny Green’s impact in this series, as he was a huge reason why Golden State cruised to a 2-0 series lead, and he was especially awesome in game two (28 points).

His offense saw a dip in his last two contests and he did slap a dude in the groin, but in those next two games he still corralled 19 rebounds and blocked four shots, while notching two steals and chipping in 15 points. That decline was probably steep enough to keep him from winning Finals MVP, but not being able to put a cherry on top due to suspension in game five sealed his MVP fate.

Andre Iguodala

There is a very strong case to be made for Iggy, no matter what happens in game five. He was Finals MVP a year ago and has been such a huge two-way player for this team, so it would only be fitting that a guy who normally comes off the bench would again win the MVP for the biggest series of the year.

The crazy part is if the Dubs do win tonight, it probably will be on the heels of a huge game from Iguodala, who will likely end up starting and playing heavy minutes. Tasked with slowing down LeBron James and helping out on the perimeter, Iggy has been just as instrumental as Draymond Green when it comes to forming Golden State’s stingy defense. He’s also been great offensively, chipping in 10+ points in three of the four games.

Should Iggy rise up and have a huge game five, he’s going to be a very real threat to win back to back Finals MVP awards. At 15/2 odds, that makes him the best bet going into Monday night.

Stephen Curry

When it’s all said and done, Curry is going to need to have a huge game to put this series into the ground. After exploding for 38 points in a huge game four road win, anything short would arguably be a surprise at this point. Curry was slow to bust out in this Finals series, but he also arguably wasn’t even needed early on, as his bench went nuts en route to a 2-0 series lead.

While his stats weren’t eye-popping through the first three games (16 points per game), Curry has still had an imprint on these Finals, pouring in 18 and 19 points in games two and three and topping double figures in every game this series. It’s not the most amazing run for a league MVP or a Finals MVP, but if Curry throws down a second straight 30+ point outing to win a repeat title with Draymond Green sidelined, he’ll be more than deserving.

Ultimately, the tentative front-runner is going to be Iggy, with Curry very close behind him. Iggy remains the fun bet among this group, while Curry is the safe one. Then again, all bets may reset if the Cavs stay alive and keep this series going. If you’re a believer that could happen, LeBron James would creep back into the conversation.

Finals MVP Prediction

Ultimately, we don’t think the Warriors let this one live much longer and a big reason why is going to be The Splash Brothers doing what they do best on their home floor. It will surely be a total team effort on both ends, but if Golden State wins, it very likely will be because Stephen Curry delivers one more big game to quiet the critics. If he can do that, he’ll win the 2016 NBA Finals MVP.

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