Thirteen years since being drafted as the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, Houston Rockets superstar Chris Paul will finally compete in the Western Conference Finals for the first time. On Tuesday night, Paul and the Rockets earned their fourth win against the Utah Jazz to advance to the next round. In 38 minutes on the floor, the 33-year-old point guard established a monster performance and led the Rockets with a career-playoff-high 41 points, together with 10 assists and seven rebounds on 59.1 percent shooting from the field and 80 percent from beyond the arc.
Advancing to the Western Conference Finals was almost just a dream for Chris Paul when he was still playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul easily reached that level with just one season of playing alongside James Harden, proving that he made the right decision to demand a trade to the Rockets last summer. However, for the veteran guard, it is still not yet the time to celebrate as he and the Rockets aim for a higher goal.
“Not at all. Who plays just for that?” Paul said, via ESPN. “Know what I’m saying? Not at all, not at all. We’ve got eight more wins to get. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Chris Paul reaches conference finals for first time after powering Rockets past Jazz with playoff career-high 41 points. https://t.co/V6wWoOHsBs— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) May 9, 2018
Chris Paul made it clear that he’s not playing just to make it to the Western Conference Finals but to win the 2018 NBA championship title. The next round could be the most challenging matchup for the Rockets since they will be facing the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors. Like the Rockets, the Warriors easily advanced to the Western Conference Finals after eliminating the New Orleans Pelicans in just five games.
The Rockets may have beaten the Warriors twice during the regular season, but Houston must be aware that every team’s performance is different in the playoffs. Paul and James Harden should double their efforts on both ends of the floor if they want to strengthen their chance of beating the Warriors in a best-of-seven series. As of now, Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni could be finding a way to counter the Warriors’ “Super Death Lineup.” If they succeed to defeat the Warriors, Paul may have the opportunity to face his close pal, LeBron James, in the 2018 NBA Finals.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals matchup between the Warriors and the Rockets will be on Monday night at the Toyota Center.