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Chris Paul, Thunder

Chris Paul has been a Clutch God all season

The Oklahoma City Thunder were expected to rebuild this year. After trading away franchise legend Russell Westbrook, many wondered if the Thunder would be drafting in the top 10 in 2020. Instead, the Thunder shattered expectations and earned the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Facing elimination on Monday night, Chris Paul continued to do what he has done all year: dominate in the clutch.

With the Thunder trailing the Houston Rockets by six with 3:40 remaining in Game 6, Paul drained two crucial 3-pointers. He scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. Paul accounted for eight of the Thunder’s final 12 points, including two free throws with 13.1 seconds left that put the club ahead for good in a 104-100 victory. The Thunder evened the series at three games apiece to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

It was incredible to watch:

Chris Paul has been a maestro in the clutch — which the NBA defines as the last five minutes of the fourth quarter/OT in which the point differential is five points or less — all season. Including the playoffs, the point guard has logged 168 points in the clutch with impressive efficiency, according to NBA.com. Paul is the biggest reason why the Thunder won a league-high 30 clutch games in the regular season. All three Thunder wins in this first-round series have featured clutch situations.

Named an All-Star for the 10th time this season, Paul has carried Oklahoma City to heights few could have predicted. Paul is one win away from eliminating the team that recklessly shipped him out of town to acquire Westbrook. It would be the ultimate revenge for Paul, who had to feel some sort of betrayal after the Rockets traded him days after general manager Daryl Morey allegedly said they would not deal him.

Not only is Paul outplaying Westbrook, who missed the first four games of the series with a quad injury, but the Rockets forked over plenty of draft capital to make the trade last offseason. The Rockets sent the Thunder first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, plus the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025.

Westbrook, a former MVP, earned another All-Star selection this season. For most of the year, he has been sensational for the Rockets. However, the point guard got hurt right before the postseason. Westbrook looked out of rhythm in his return to the court in a Game 5 win, playing just 24 minutes and making 3-of-13 field goals for seven points. Westbrook shot better (8-for-15) in Game 6, but committed a whopping seven turnovers, including a deflating one in the final moments of the defeat:

While Westbrook finished with a game-worst minus-9, Paul registered a game-best plus-20. Paul managed to drop 28 points and add seven rebounds, three assists and three steals — without committing a single turnover.

By scoring over 25 points with zero turnovers, Chris Paul joined elite company:

The Thunder and Rockets will battle on Wednesday night in Game 7 . The winner advances to the conference semifinals to play the Los Angeles Lakers. While the Rockets are likely to be a slight favorite, the Thunder have a real chance of pulling off the upset because of Paul’s clutchness.

CP3 is looking forward to it:

If Game 7 comes down to the wire, Chris Paul and the Thunder will remain poised and confident in their ability to win.