Chris Paul is possibly one step closer to a championship. The Houston Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 112-102 to close out their series. The Rockets won the series 4-1. With their win last night, the Rockets advanced to the Conference Finals. They will face the Golden State Warriors, who beat the Pelicans last night. The Warriors finished their series in similar fashion to the Rockets. They beat the Pelicans 113-104. The Warriors also finished their series 4-1. They are going into their fourth straight Western Conference Finals.
Last night, Chris Paul helped lead his team to victory. He led the Rockets with 41 points and 10 assists. He shot 80% from three-point range, an 8-of-10 shooting. He finished the game without a single turnover. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in playoffs history to have at least 40 points and 10 assists without having a turnover. For the Rockets, PJ Tucker had 19 points, and James Harden had 18 points.
This is Chris Paul's first season with the Rockets. The Rockets are Paul's third team of his career. He joined the Rockets after he was traded to them in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer, a future first round pick, and cash considerations. He joined the Rockets after six years with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers were playoff contenders on and off, but they could never get past the second round. Now, Chris Paul has finally reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in his career. For the Rockets, this is the second time they've made it to the Western Conference Finals in four years. They made the Conference Finals in 2015, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in a 4-1 series.
Chris Paul is in the 13th year of his career. Paul is arguably the best pure point guard in the league. But, he is sometimes critiqued for playoff experience. He has been in the playoffs numerous times, but he hasn't been past the second round. Now, he can silence his critics.
When asked about the Rockets, Draymond Green downplayed them. He said something along the lines of, 'the Warriors are here to win a championship.' According to Green, it doesn't matter who the Warriors face. Their eyes are on the championship, and the championship only
In the regular season, the Rockets had the best record of the Western Conference. The Rockets finished the season with a record of 65-17. They had a 7-game lead over the Warriors. The Warriors have championship experience, and have been together longer than the Rockets. This is the first season that the Chris Paul/James Harden backcourt has played together. Their regular season was a success, and their playoffs have been a success thus far. They are a team that could potentially dethrone the Warriors. The Warriors have been in the NBA finals for the past three years. They have won the NBA championship two out of those three years. The Warriors are the team to beat in the Western Conference. This year, they may have met their match. If both teams compete, this could be an entertaining series. This is a series that could possibly go to a Game 7.
The series begins on Monday. The Rockets will host the Warriors in Houston. What we saw of Chris Paul yesterday may only be a glimpse of what we'll see for the rest of the playoffs. This is the moment he has been waiting for. I expect him to take advantage of it.
The Houston Rockets have not won a championship since 1995. They also won one the previous year. Could Chris Paul and the Rockets bring an NBA championship (back) to Houston?