Chris Paul loses his fifth career 2-0 series, an NBA record, and the legacy birds are going to be singing

The Phoenix Suns were beaten by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 on Sunday, dropping as many as 46 points in a 123-90 blowout that somehow wasn’t even as close as a 33-point margin would indicate. Chris Paul didn’t make his first basket until the Suns were down 40 at the 7:26 mark of the third quarter. He had a point at halftime. He finished with a completely useless 10 and a minus-39 for the game, the worst single-game point differential of his career.

I don’t want to do this about Paul’s legacy. The Suns didn’t lose because of Paul, though he probably didn’t do anything to help them win. He was one of the top five point guards to ever play before this game ended, and no, one game didn’t change that. The late rise of Paul’s career has been a masterful chapter in a Hall of Fame career, and many of the playoff meltdowns he’s been connected to have been, at least to some degree, the product of a few things. one of the worst injuries imaginable.

Still, the results are hard to reject, or perhaps more accurately, easy to cling to. After the Suns won the first two games of this series against Dallas, this becomes the fifth time in Paul’s career that his team has lost a 2-0 postseason lead. That, unfortunately, is an NBA record.

It gets worse. In five of those blown 2-0 leads, Paul’s team didn’t even make it to Game 7, meaning they lost four in a row, as was the case in last year’s Finals against the Bucks. The only other player who has lost even three 2-0 leads is Blake Griffin, who, as we know, was Paul’s teammate on the Los Angeles Clippers, who, with Paul leading, became the first team in history to lose a series. in five consecutive postseasons that they led at some point.

Paul is 3-5 in career elimination games.

He has lost his last four Game 7s.

Also, the list of crises you see above doesn’t even include the 3-1 lead that Paul’s Clippers lost to the Rockets in 2015, or the 3-2 lead that his Rockets lost to the Warriors in 2018. Paul, for Of course, he didn’t. He didn’t play in the last two games of that Golden State series after he tore his hamstring in Game 5. It really shouldn’t count on his ledger. But he does. These conversations are not here for context.

But then again, the facts are the facts. If we’re going to bow at Luka Doncic’s altar for his rise to chance gene, then the opposite has to be at least somewhat true as well. Paul has played in many important games and moments throughout his career, but there’s no denying that he has, quite often, completely disappeared when it mattered most. Some people just have it at the most important moments. Doncic has it. My God, he has it.

Despite the exceptions, maybe Paul just doesn’t have the big game. that factor. It hurts me to say that. But James Harden just went through a woodchipper for his latest elimination game fiasco, and while I don’t think Paul deserves the same kind of booing, if only because you can never question Paul’s effort or commitment to winning or even stay. Fit, I guess fair is fair.

After Phoenix won 2-0 against Dallas, Paul averaged 9.4 points, 5.8 assists and 3.6 turnovers in the last five games of the series. The Suns, of course, lost four of those games, and Paul never attempted more than nine shots. Passivity? The defense he was up against? He almost always comes off as a bit of both, but Harden didn’t get the benefit of the doubt, and for people hell-bent on taking this position, Paul won’t either.

I am not usually one of those who refrain from giving an opinion. But I don’t know which way to go in this case. I consider that Paul is not only a great player of all time, but also a very critical player. The latter obviously doesn’t square with these playoff meltdowns, but all I’ll say is that it’s a team sport, and on top of that, to attribute Paul’s losses solely to his own choke jobs is to discredit the teams and players who they defeated him. The guy has run into Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and now Luka Doncic the last three times he’s had a legitimate shot at a title.

Paul is great, but he’s not as good as any of those guys. Hardly anyone who has ever played the game is as good as those guys. So let’s give them credit, first. Then after that, if you want to smear Paul as a playoff fan, go for it. I’m not going to do that, but I can’t deny that the facts are there to support such a position.

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