If you missed yesterday's Game 7 between the Spurs and Clippers, you missed a doozy.
The game featured 31 lead changes and 16 ties, with neither team leading by more than eight points at any point. The entire fourth quarter was played with the teams within five points of each other.
The Clippers won a series in which they trailed three games to two for the first time in franchise history. The Spurs became the fifth defending champion since playoff expansion in 1983-84 to lose in the first round (the others were the 1983-84 76ers, the 1999-2000 Spurs, the 2006-07 Heat and the 2011-12 Mavericks).
In particular, Chris Paul was spectacular: 27 points, 6 assists, 5 threes and 2 steals. His shooting efficiency was off the charts, making 9-13 from the floor, 5 of 6 from three-point land and 4-4 from the foul line. He had just one turnover (and had a total of 2 during the final three games of the Clippers-Spurs series).
He did it all of this on one leg. For most of the game, CP3 was playing on a bad hamstring. His last second game-winning floater off the backboard came over the outstretched arms of Tim Duncan, without being able to get any elevation on this shot.
Chris Paul made the biggest shot of his career last night to win Game 7 and the series for the Clippers. VIDEO: https://t.co/eIgeGE2Uke #CP3— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 3, 2015
It hasn't even been 24 hours, but all of social media and a number of well-written stories have described his Game 7 performance as some sort of validation. Just have a look at SBNation's own Tom Ziller titled article, "Chris Paul's legend is finally born."
As great as the Clippers-Spurs battle was, it still doesn't dismiss the fact that it was a first round series. The Clippers still need 12 more wins before they reach their ultimate goal -- hoisting the NBA championship trophy. Moreover, Paul's performance wasn't the first time his play was of the jaw-dropping, must-see-to-believe variety.
Back in 2011, Paul led the Hornets to two wins against the Los Angeles Lakers when most experts were predicting a sweep. It wasn't far-fetched: New Orleans was entering the postseason without their second best player in David West and CP3 had not looked like the same explosive player from seasons past.
Despite this, CP3's incredible effort helped stun the favorites on several occasions. All the NBA experts went absolutely gaga over his Game 1 performance.
It really is quite tough to put into words how thoroughly he dominated this game. In the first half especially, everything was him. Essentially every single shot the Hornets took with him on the floor was created in some way, by his penetration, by his passing, or by his movement. After a relatively quiet third quarter, Paul came out and did the very thing we've gotten on him so frequently for not doing this year - dominate the fourth quarter.
One of my best parts of this game for me was the explosion of Chris Paul related tweets. If you'll indulge me, some of my favorites:
Bill Simmons: Today's Chris Paul performance should be burned on DVD and shown at basketball camps for the rest of eternity.
Zach Lowe: CP3 just pretty much threw a perfect point guard game.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss: There is only Chris Paul
Bethlehem Shoals: Chris Paul is everything I believe in.
Emile Avanessian: There are, & have been, a lot of NBA players in worthy of being called "great." Chris Paul's in the more exclusive "basketball genius" group
J.E. Skeets: I know one of 'em isn't even playing, but I'm absolutely stoked to see CP3 snatch back the "Must-Watch" title from Blake Griffin. #Hornets
Tom Ziller: Chris Paul is the Steve Young of basketball.
A week later, Chris Paul and God were mentioned again in the same sentence. I guess 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists probably should have that effect nearly every time.
Years earlier, Paul burst onto the playoff scene and posted his best playoff PER to date. He had a 30.7 PER in twelve total games against the Mavericks 9th-rated defense and Spurs 3rd-rated defense.
Long before Anthony Davis got into the record books for his scintillating playoff debut, Chris Paul torched Jason Kidd for 35 points (15-23 FG's), 10 assists and 4 steals. At the time, he became just the third playoff rookie to score 35 points or more in his very first postseason game.
Throughout the 2007-08 playoffs, Paul could not be stopped as attested by his 24.1 PPG, 11.3 AST and 2.3 STL average. According to one publication several years ago, CP3's run earned him a second place finish on a top ten list of first time playoff performers. He came in only behind LeBron James but ahead of Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan, just name a few.
Chris Paul's Game 7 performance last night against the World Champions was an epic display of basketball. A 91.5% true shooting percentage and a 172 offensive rating is just astounding, but to do it while injured, truly deserves special recognition.
However, let's just be sure to not forget his full body of work. Besides his two special postseason appearances as a Hornet, he has been a game changer in all of his Clipper playoff runs. Three times in his career, CP3 has led the NBA playoffs in PER. For his postseason career, he has a 25.1 PER, which is currently good for 7th all time!
As Ziller noted in his article today, Chris Paul has always been special.
Last night, Chris Paul silenced what remain of his critics. I don't care what round it was. A performance for the ages on one leg. #Clippers— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) May 3, 2015
It's just a shame that he still had any critics left before last night's memorable performance.