Rockets

Rockets Will Need “Playoff CP3” Against Warriors

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The Houston Rockets took care of business last week, beating the Utah Jazz in a best-of-seven series. Although the Rockets won their first round matchup in five games, the series felt longer than it actually was. James Harden came through for the Rockets when they needed him the most despite not shooting the ball entirely well. Harden averaged 27.8 PPG, 8.0 APG, and 6.8 RPG on 37.4/35/86.5 shooting splits during the series. Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker were stellar from long range, shooting 48.6% and 43.9% from three, respectively. Chris Paul was, hands down, the best player on the court defensively, racking up 2.8 SPG and 1.0 BPG while achieving a DRtg of 96 for the series.

There’s no question as to what Chris Paul can do for the Rockets on the defensive end. However, the offensive numbers that he’s put up during the 2018-19 regular season and these playoffs have trended downward from past years. For the second year in a row the Rockets will face the Golden State Warriors and their star-studded team. The Rockets will indeed need the Chris Paul from a year ago to have a healthy shot at beating the top-seeded Warriors in the Western Conference Semis.

What’s Meant by Playoff CP3?

Here’s a look into Chris Paul’s numbers as a Houston Rocket:

During the 2017-18 regular season, Paul averaged 18.6 PPG and 1.7 SPG. During the 2018 NBA Playoffs, he averaged 21.1 PPG and 2.0 SPG. This regular season, Paul averaged a career-low 15.6 PPG while shooting 41.9% (also a career low) from the field. Although he hasn’t matched his numbers from the 2018 playoffs, Paul has shot better from the field (49.3%) these playoffs compared to the regular season. He’s also scoring a bit more, averaging 17.4 PPG and racking up 0.8 more steals per game. The numbers don’t lie. CP3’s scoring averages go up, as well as his defensive intensity, when it comes time to ball out.

Clutch Factor

CP3’s clutch moments during his time in the NBA stem from his days as an L.A. Clipper. Check out this game-winner against the Spurs in game 7 of the 2015 NBA playoffs:

Paul’s first playoff with the Rockets was filled with countless clutch shots and clutch performances. You can look to his 41-point performance in Game 5 of the 2018 WCSF or Game 5 of the WCF, where Paul arguably outplayed Steph Curry when it mattered most. The Rockets went on to win that game but ultimately lost the series after dropping games 6 and 7. Had it not been for Chris Paul suffering an injury in Game 5, the Rockets may have been able to pull out a series victory over the Warriors after having led the series 3-2.

Here’s a look back at Playoff CP3 in Game 5, including the notorious shimmy he hits on Curry:

Endgame

The Rockets will need more offensive production out of Chris Paul to defeat the Warriors in a best-of-seven series. The team can expect Harden to give them 30 points a game, but it’ll take more than that to overcome one of the greatest squads ever assembled. A 33-year-old Chris Paul remains the X-factor in a series where Warriors have home-court advantage. As long as Playoff CP3 shows up and the Rockets remain healthy, this series should be an entertaining one. The Warriors are currently favored by 5.5 points over the Rockets in Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where they will open WCSF play.

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About Aqib Gazi

Aqib was born and raised in the great city of Houston, TX. He grew up a Rockets fan and his favorite player growing up was Steve Francis. Aqib graduated from the University of Houston in 2017 and covers the Houston Rockets for TLSM.

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