“Chris Paul can’t win big games,” is a sentiment that haunted Chris Paul from his time as a baby-faced Hornet all the way until his robustly-bearded Clipper years. His inability to lead the Clippers to a conference finals allowed the critics to go off, and keep going off.
And while the opening round of the playoffs doesn’t, on its own, grant access to the conference finals, the 2015 Clippers-Spurs series provided Paul with a chance to prove that those critics wrong.
A seeding system that has since been scrapped gave us perhaps the best opening round ever. The Spurs and Clippers were separated by just one game. It was a series of veterans with a proven track record (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) vs. young guns getting desperate to win together (Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan). It was old knees (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili) vs. young knees (Griffin, Paul, Jordan). It was the confident reigning champs Spurs vs. the “we have good regular seasons” Clippers.
And what do you know, the series went down to game seven. The final moments of game seven, in fact. It was time for Chris Paul to win a big game, or cement his legacy of coming up short.