After marauding their way to the Utah Jazz’s home court stint, the Houston Rockets grabbed a commanding 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals, but this only brought back memories for Chris Paul, who has been in a similar position before.
Paul recalled his days as a member of the L.A. Clippers, as the Rockets mounted a late assault on his team during the Western Conference Semifinals in 2015, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series.
“I’ve been here before 3-1, and s**t went bad real quick,” Paul, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Sunday, told TNT’s Kristen Ledlow after the victory. “It is what it is. I want to get home, enjoy my family, you know what I mean? A good birthday gift. I’ll take it.”
Paul was one win away from changing the narrative of his playing career — a player that has never advanced to the conference finals. Now he finds himself at that very same spot, but this time wiser — knowing the switch can flip at any minute.
Forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who signed with the Clippers in the summer following that atrocious collapse, knows just how that curse had affected Paul.
“When I came on the team, there was still guys talking about it,” Mbah a Moute told Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports. “It was still very vivid, for everybody. You just felt all that hard work, and being up 3-1, and then losing, like I said it’s something guys keep to their heart.”
The Rockets have fought fire with fire, bringing young Clint Capela to the forefront and showing just how much of a defensive stopper he can be. His 12 points, 15 rebounds, and six blocks went hand-in-hand with Paul’s game-high 27 points to seal Game 4.