When he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, there were major questions about Chris Paul’s NBA future. Many figured he’d stick around for a little while before being traded away by a franchise that looked to be in the midst of a serious rebuild. Instead, they’re now one game away from a playoff date with his good friend LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rather than languish on a young team, Paul took the reins, and made OKC one of the better stories of the 2019-20 season. He’s served as both the star point guard that we’ve known him to be, but also a valuable mentor for young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who looks like a future star. Instead of a rebuild, the Thunder clinched the No. 5 seed, to face Paul’s former team—and former Thunder MVP Russell Westbrook—in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
After a Game 5 blowout, the Rockets looked to have control of this series. On Monday night, momentum swung back to the Thunder in a big way. Paul led the way with 28 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, and the Thunder were an impressive +20 while he was on the floor in the dramatic 104-100 win.
“CP3!!!!!!!” LeBron James tweeted after the game on Monday night. “Put some respect on his name and more!”
CP3!!!!!!! Put some respect on his name and more!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 1, 2020
These Bubble Playoffs in Orlando have generally been good for the remaining members of the Banana Boat crew. Dwyane Wade retired after last season, but the other three guys have really rejected the notion that they’re anywhere near done with this season.
LeBron remains on the shortlist of best players in the world and was an MVP candidate this year. As the No. 1 seed in the West, his Lakers may be the favorite to win the NBA Title. Carmelo Anthony’s Portland Trail Blazers were knocked out by LeBron on Saturday night, but the long time elite scorer was the major factor in keeping the team in Game 5, with Damian Lillard out. A year after teams wouldn’t touch him, Melo proved that he has plenty left in his offensive bag.
Now, Chris Paul may get a shot at LeBron James himself. If the Oklahoma City Thunder can knock off the Houston Rockets tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET, they’ll face the Lakers in Round 2.