Chris Paul knows what he is: an elite point guard in the NBA.
Paul proved that he deserves to be called the best point guard in the league Monday night with a dominating performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Los Angeles Clippers smacked the Thunder 122-105, but the game was not as close as the score indicates.
Paul led the charge for the Clippers, doing absolutely everything for his team that he possibly could. Paul put up 32 points on scorching hot 12-of-14 shooting, including a ridiculous 8-of-9 from 3-point range. Paul was able to pull up for a variety of shots, both in the mid-range and from deep. Paul was a master tonight in creating space for himself to knock down open shots. The most impressive part about Paul’s efficient shooting night is that he scored most of those points on jump shots. Usually when a player has that efficient of a shooting night from the field, that player either got a lot of shots around the rim or was able to get a lot of attempts front the free throw line. Paul did most of his damage with his jumper, something that needs to be recognized in order to truly appreciate the night Paul had shooting the ball.
Not only did Paul score efficiently from the field, but he set up his teammates for a lot of great shots from the perimeter and in the paint. Paul had 10 assists on the night, which is an impressive number considering the amount of points he put on the board for the Clippers. When Paul can get Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan involved in terms of hitting shots as well as J.J. Redick, this Los Angeles team becomes so much more dangerous on offense, especially when Paul can pour in 15 or 20 points of his own.
If Paul can continue playing at an MVP level, then the Thunder are going to be hard pressed to find an answer for the Clippers in general. Jordan is playing defense and rebounding the ball at a high level, and Griffin has taken his game to another level offensively in terms of adding a perimeter mid-range jump shot and developing a more efficient back to the basket post game. The Clippers also have a bunch of perimeter scorers other than Paul, including Redick, Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison.
Paul is going to have to lead the way in order for the Clippers to dominate this series, but if tonight is any indication then Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are going to be in major trouble going forward.