As well as Tatum played in that first round, the MVP has to go to Jalen Brunson. This is a player who has never averaged 20 points per game in a season, and he averaged 27.8 on 48.4 percent shooting against the Jazz. Again, he became the focal point of the series after the 41-point outburst in Game 2. Then with all of the arrows and circles and clicker lasers pointed towards him, he returned with a 31-point game to show that he is for real.
The Mavericks were not a big three, or a one-two punch going into this postseason. They were an improved defense, some capable supplemental scores, and Dončić. Brunson, at his 6-foot-1 stature, stepped into Dončić’s shoes and led the Mavericks to their first playoff series win in over a decade. Yes, Dončić returned to close the show, but without Brunson, the show is over long before Dončić is able to return to the stage and give the final soliloquy. Brunson filled a role that no one ever thought that he would be able to in the NBA, and for that he is the MVP of the first round.