The first round of the NBA’s Western Conference playoffs will offer a point guard lover’s dream. The third seeded Los Angeles Clippers (57-25) will face the Golden State Warriors (51-31), led by two of the league’s most exciting players in Chris Paul and Stephen Curry. Both players hail from the Pacific Division and have faced each other three times this year (CP3 missed one game), with each player’s respective team splitting the season series (2-2). Paul averaged 28 points and 12.6 assists per game this year during the matchups, with Curry putting up 22 points and 9.5 assists per game.
From deadeye shooting from all over the court to dazzling ball-handling ability, both individuals have provided fans with some of the best basketball highlights one could desire. We all remember the shooting exhibition that Curry put on just recently (Apr. 13) in a 119-117 loss vs. the Portland Trail Blazers, notching 47 points on 16-of-29 shooting, 7-of-14 from three-point range. The numbers put up were highly efficient for a perimeter scorer.
On any given night, Curry can definitely duplicate these numbers. On the year, he is averaging 23.6 points and 8.5 assists per game, so not only does he offer unlimited range on his shooting, but his passing is important to his team’s offensive cohesiveness.
Chris Paul is as crafty as they come, with his ability to keep defenders on his back, finish through contact, and push the tempo on offense. Not many point guards can make some of the moves that he is known to demolish opposing defenses with when he is engaged. Defensively, Paul uses his underrated strength and quickness to get into the passing lanes, and pick the pocket of ball-handlers. Even Curry has witnessed the wrath of Paul first hand, in an early season matchup on October 31st, 2013. CP3 poured in 42 points and dished 15 assists in the game.
Precision passing, and constant drives to the basket led to Paul’s big night. There was almost no answer for Paul at times. In the performance though, Curry nearly matched Paul with 38 points of his own. The game was one for the ages, and it showed how both guys affect their squads in more ways that the stat sheet can record.
Since Paul was acquired from the New Orleans Hornets in 2011, he has allowed his fiery nature and competitiveness to extend throughout the Clippers’ roster. Since his arrival, they have adopted a winning mentality (153 wins in the last three years), including this year’s total and franchise record of 57 victories. They’ve also been in the playoffs since he’s been on the roster.
The Warriors have also undergone transformation from the NBA Draft lottery, to one of the fastest rising and winning teams in the league. Curry has led the Warriors to the postseason in two consecutive seasons, including this year. His youth and exuberance has breathed life into the Golden State fan base, that we haven’t seen since the “We Believe” Warriors.
Saturday night awaits, and the Warriors will visit Staples Center, hoping to allow Curry to lead them deep into the playoffs. CP3 is hoping that he can extend his playoff run as well, into the land of banners and parades. It is only fitting that the journey that these two began this season, will allow us witness their greatness in what should be an ongoing rivalry for the ages.