Chris Paul | A Far Too Familiar Road
With already a surefire hall of fame resume cemented, Chris Paul has got his eyes set on the ultimate prize as his career is seemingly winding down.
Chris Paul has always been considered one of the best point guards in the league and rightfully so. He has averaged 18.3 points per game, 9.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and a little over two steals throughout his career.
He has led his teams to great playoff runs in the past but has never reached the NBA Finals. It is almost as if he has been snake bitten during the biggest moments in the postseason.
With the LA Clippers in 2015, Paul suffered a non-contact hamstring injury in Game 7 of the opening-round series against the Spurs. Paul eventually returned in Game 3 of the second round vs. the Houston Rockets but was never 100%. Thus, LA ended up blowing a 3-1 series lead and got sent home.
In the following year, Paul suffered another costly injury in the playoffs, when he broke his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. He was forced to miss the rest of the season, and the Clippers ended up losing that series 4-2.
Paul’s biggest injury came in the 2018 Western Conference Finals while he was a member of the Houston Rockets. With Houston tied 2-2 against the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, Paul hurt his hamstring in crunch time with a minute remaining. The Rockets ended up winning Game 5, but Paul was unavailable for the rest of the season and ultimately lost the series in seven games.
To this day, many argue that Houston would have overthrown the Warriors if Paul was available. It would have been Paul’s first finals appearance. Nonetheless, CP3 ended up getting traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to a “rebuilding team” in which ESPN gave OKC a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs.
Against all odds, Chris Paul showed his worth and guided the Thunder to the 5th seed in the Western Conference and pushed Houston seven games in the first round. Last year was a great indication of how valuable his presence and play are to a team.
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Can CP3 Finally Get Over the Hump?
This year proved to be no exception as he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Before Paul’s arrival, Phoenix had not made the playoffs in over a decade. This season, he led them to the second seed in a loaded Western Conference and is one game away from reaching the NBA Finals, a place he has never been before.
Getting to this point, however, was not easy. In Game 1 of the first round against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, Paul suffered a shoulder injury which caused him pain and discomfort throughout the playoffs.
Despite the injury, Phoenix beat the Lakers and swept The Denver Nuggets with MVP Nikola Jokic. Paul was magnificent in the series and Denver coach Michael Malone called him “The greatest point guard of all time.”
Even though they advanced, the Suns got some bad news about their floor general. CP3 reportedly got COVID and had to sit out the first two games of the Conference Finals against the Clippers. Thankfully, however, the Suns won both games in his absence but fell short in Game 3 in his return. He looked rusty and out of sync as he was out for ten days.
Heading into Game 5, the Suns had a chance to wrap up the series up 3-1. The Clippers, however, (Paul’s former team) refused to give up and forced a Game 6 back in LA.
If Paul ultimately blows a 3-1 lead against a Clippers squad without Kawhi Leonard, it will make a huge dent in his legacy. Yes he is a magnificent point guard, and yes he is a surefire hall of famer, but can he finally get over the hump?
This might be his last chance ever to reach the mountaintop which makes the pressure of Paul immense. It will be interesting to see how he responds starting in Game 6 tomorrow night.
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