It is easy to take a superstar for granted. Their every night greatness makes the amazing mundane. The Playoffs often serve as a reminder of how great these players can be when they are forced to step up even with all the attention and focus placed on them. The performances are breathtaking.
Sometimes it feels like Chris Paul gets lost in the shuffle. He has been anointed as the top point guard in the league and his overall brilliance is often hidden by the platitudes. Paul has to do something truly amazing to remind us how good he can be. That is what his Playoff performances usually do.
But never like this. Not like this.
The Clippers routed the Thunder 122-105 in Game One at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday. Paul was the big reason. Really the main driving catalyst of a reason.
Paul hit eight of nine 3-pointers, including his first seven and six in the first half on his way to 32 points and 10 assists. He was the engine driving the Clippers and stifling the Thunder, helping slow down everyone on the Thunder not named Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant. Westbrook had 29 points on 9-for-14 shooting and Durant had 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting. Both were solid, but ultimately too late.
The Clippers built their lead early and held it throughout without much resistance. They scored more than 100 points in three quarters and 69 points by halftime. The Thunder struggled adjusting to the quicker pace the Clippers play at after two weeks against the Grizzlies. No one besides the two stars showed up.
Los Angeles got the help its stars needed. Blake Griffin had 23 points himself and Jamal Crawford had 17 points off the bench, helping expand the lead in the second quarter when the bench came in. Oklahoma City has to ask itself who is going to carry some of the scoring load to help Westbrook and Durant.
Paul is going to get others involved. And if he shoots like this . . . the Thunder will not be here for long.