The rivalry between Stephen Curry and Chris Paul has been one of the most watched of its kind over the last few years of playoff competition. Formerly a young, up-and-coming star on the rise against a veteran floor general, the roles have changed since, with Curry going from little brother to dominating matchups and even putting Paul in one of the many long-engrained playoff highlight reels of his career.
It wasn't long ago that Paul, the resident dime maestro of the league, dominated this matchup — a stronger, feistier, more experienced floor general, but the tables turned after Curry returned from a long absence following an ankle procedure, with a renewed sense of ambition — determined to take the throne.
“It was a personal vendetta, to get better than him,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said in 2015, according to Ann Killion of The San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s how it should be. It’s nothing against Chris, nothing against Steph. It was just, ‘I want to be better than you.’ I think everybody uses somebody to push them.”
Heading into a long-awaited Western Conference Finals, Paul now has a star player and the supporting cast necessary to take down a supergiant — but he's by no means an afterthought in the eyes of this Warriors team.
“Chris is the obvious difference in their team,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “They’ve been really good the last few years, but he gives them a new dimension that they haven’t had before. He’s a great player, one of the best in the league and a future Hall of Famer. So we have to account for what he does.
“He’s different from James (Harden), they attack in different ways… Chris is more mid-range. He’s made them better. He’s shooting those 15- to 17-footers they didn’t have before. Chris finds those gaps.”
The Rockets got the best of the Warriors in the regular season with a 2-1 record, but a seven-game series might be on the cards once the two teams face off over the next two weeks.