The first-round meeting between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder has emerged as one of the most intriguing matchups in the opening round of the playoffs. Thunder All-Star point guard Chris Paul has done a tremendous job leading his team to a surprisingly impressive performance all season long, which is why Rockets guard Eric Gordon believes that Paul will be the key piece for their opponents in this series.

Gordon, who will be handed the unenviable task of having to guard Paul to start the series with Russell Westbrook out, provided his scouting report on his former teammate:

“He’s a very smart player,” said Gordon, via Ben DuBose of USA TODAY Sports. “What we need to do is try to pressure him as much as possible. You don’t want his intelligence of the game to make a big effect. We definitely know how he is. We know who he is. We’re going to try our best and make sure he doesn’t have as good of an impact.”

“You’ve got to try and crowd him, and play with your hands up. You’ve got to put the pressure on him as much as possible. He can shoot — better now, it seems like, at this point in his career — but you definitely want him to put the ball on the floor sometimes, too. Like I said, you don’t want his intelligence to take over the game. You’ve just got to pressure him, and crowd him a bit.”

There's no denying that the revenge narrative for Paul makes this series even more appealing. The Rockets traded away Paul to the Thunder over the summer as part of the Russell Westbrook deal, and both players have thrived with their new teams.

For his part, however, Paul was never expected to even stay in Oklahoma City, so it's truly amazing how he has turned this team around this term. As for Westbrook, he's going to miss the start of the series, but the hope is he's back so these two stars can go at it.

For now, Gordon will take the Paul assignment.