For the last 10 years, Chris Paul has been one of the best point guards in the NBA. His play has made the Los Angeles Clippers one of the most successful franchises in all of basketball, finishing within the top-4 of the Western Conference for the last 10 seasons. Unfortunately, the Clippers are in a brutal slump, losing games by the scores of 20, 17, 13, and 11 points.
The Houston Rockets have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season. They are a handful of wins away from a 50 win season, and also have an extremely talented roster. To make it all the way to the NBA Finals, they have had to beat the best team in the Western Conference in a playoff series more than once. Now, they are about to face a tough opponent in the Golden State Warriors, who have made it to the NBA Finals the past three years.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul almost lived in a dream world on his way to the 2021 NBA Finals. Now this dream is slowly turning into a nightmare.
Paul was excellent in the first two games of the series. He scored 32 points and handed out nine assists in Game 1, before scoring 23 points in Game 2 to help the Suns to a 2-0 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
However, in the last two games against the Suns, Paul hasn’t looked as good as he once did. Throughout his playoff career, injuries have been a recurring theme.
The scoring god is one of the most notable players in NBA history. Chris Paul has made 11 All-Star teams in his career, as well as 10 NBA All-Star teams and nine All-Defender teams. However, his record in the playoffs is littered with physical setbacks.
Paul, then a Los Angeles Clippers player, was limited in movement by a hamstring injury in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Then he suffered a broken hand in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers in 2016, and the Blazers eventually eliminated the Clippers in six games.
The most devastating blow came in 2018. St. Paul and the Houston Rockets were one game away from dethroning the Golden State Warriors as Western Conference champions after a 3-2 final stand in the conference finals. However, Paul suffered a hamstring injury, leaving him inactive in games 6 and 7. The Rockets then lost both games.
Paul was injured again in Phoenix’s first-round game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but he recovered and began a heroic playoff run that took the Suns to the finals. However, it seems that there is some doubt about Paul’s actual health.
It’s normal for most perimeter players who are in possession of the ball most of the game to gain momentum. Except for Chris Paul, this is not normal.
Can it change things? https://t.co/XqXvcbXTxj
– Sports Illustrated (@SInow) 16. July 2021
Paul was remarkably effective with the ball throughout most of the 2021 playoffs. In the NBA Finals, he was someone else.
The 36-year-old had just two penalties in the first game. Since then, Paul has averaged five turnovers per game. He was unusually clumsy with the ball, sometimes losing his grip or flying off without knowing where the next pass would go.
Paul may be handicapped by injuries to his arm. Former New York Times NBA columnist and current Substack writer Mark Stein reported that Paul’s performance has led many observers to wonder if the damaged ligaments in his right hand or his bandaged left wrist are more serious injuries than he has claimed.
Paul never revealed that he was physically ill. Throughout his career, he’s been a breaker. He’s hardly willing to give the Bucks a psychological advantage by admitting that his arm is in the way.
Nevertheless, it is worth asking whether this is really the case.
The Phoenix Suns need to find Chris Paul if they want to win the NBA title.
Phoenix desperately needs Paul’s return to win the series and the club’s first NBA championship.
Quid is starting to receive contributions from almost everyone. Chris Middleton became a shot-maker late in the game, while Jrue Holiday recovered from his slump. Pat Connaughton was a major shooter. Giannis Antetokounmpo claims both sides.
Milwaukee could be a tough opponent for the Suns if everyone plays hard, as they have more size and are more physical than Phoenix. The Bucks also took better care of the ball, with just five interceptions in Game 4, while the Suns had 17.
Devin Booker’s 42 points were not enough for Phoenix in Game 4. His continued heroics are unlikely to lead to victories unless Paul can become the main organizer of the offense and regain control of the pick-and-roll game.
The NBA Finals have become a three-game series. Time will tell if Paul can hold on and get his team two more wins.
Statistics provided by Basketball Reference.
COMPARED TO: Giannis Antitokounmpo and Chris Middleton just did what Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar never did
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