We have seen a plethora of interesting storylines throughout these playoffs, but perhaps the most intriguing one has been Chris Paul’s recent struggles. The Point God had an incredible start to the postseason and was playing some of his best basketball in the opening round against the Pelicans and then in Games 1 & 2 against the Mavericks. After that, however, something changed.
Paul is averaging just 9.25 points to go with 6.25 assists per game since Game 3 and we have witnessed a significant drop-off in his play. Patrick Beverley and Matt Barnes gave their inputs on NBA Today as to what might be the reason for his recent struggles:
“They’re attacking him off the dribble.” Beverley said. “Luka is posting him and Jalen Brunson is attacking him. It is hard to play defense and try to create and score”
Barnes agreed with Beverley’s assessment and he wondered if Chris is just tired, citing his lack of shot attempts:
“Chris is 37 now, he’s getting a little bit older. What troubles me is that he hasn’t even taken more than 10 shots in any of those last 4 games but he is shooting 50% from the field and 54% from the 3 point line. So to me, that kind of tells me as Pat was saying, is he tired? Are they just really wearing him down so he feels like his best move is to get his other guys involved?”
It is a fair assessment to make at this point. The Mavs have been relentlessly going after Paul in this series and Phoenix has made it a bit too easy for them to get Paul on the switch, which has allowed Doncic and Brunson to target him. An adjustment is needed in their defensive game plan to make it a bit harder on Dallas and to protect Paul, as if this keeps up, they might just end up losing in Game 7.
Even if they do advance, we can expect their opponents to follow this game plan in the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals should the Suns make it that far. Monty Williams was deservedly crowned as Coach of the Year this season and he now needs to show just why he is regarded as one of the top coaches in the league.