Chris Paul has been getting under the Warriors’ skin, that much is clear.
While the Rockets‘ star point guard was largely absent in the first two games of the Western Conference semifinal series with the two-time defending NBA champions, he was a different player when the series shifted back to Houston. Paul, who has always been known as an irritant, agitated the Dubs numerous times during the Rockets’ wins in Games 3 and 4.
Paul’s antics, for the most part, are harmless and done to get inside the heads of the Warriors, which he clearly did in Game 4. While battling for a rebound, Paul and Kevin Durant got tangled up and the Warriors star ended up slinging Paul to the floor and standing over him. Then, there was another incident with Durant where the two-time NBA Finals MVP appeared to intentionally elbow Paul in the face.
But while Paul’s extracurriculars with Durant are largely much ado about nothing, the Dubs reportedly do believe CP3 crossed a line late in the Rockets’ Game 4 win on Monday. With 11 seconds left and James Harden at the free-throw line, Paul tried to snake around Warriors forward Andre Iguodala to grab a rebound off the miss and hit the forward’s knee.
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP immediately grabbed at his knee after the play.
While Iguodala is expected to be good to go for Wednesday night’s Game 5 at Oracle Arena, a number of Warriors believe Paul’s move on Iguodala was a “dirty play,” Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday.
Paul’s play certainly didn’t appear to be on the up and up. However, the Rockets were in danger of giving away a Game 4 they absolutely had to have, so it’s more than likely that Paul was just doing whatever he could to secure the rebound and not looking to batter one of the Warriors’ most important players.
Paul’s reemergence and Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball adjustment has breathed new life into a Rockets team that appeared dead after falling down 0-2 in the series. But, with the series now tied at two wins apiece, the Rockets and Warriors are back on track for the seven-game deathmatch everyone expected when the series began.