Are People Really Upset That Doc Rivers Pulled Chris Paul Out Before The Final Possession Last Night?
Yes, I know it's an ESPN show. Yes, I know they are trying to stir up controversy where it may, but probably doesn't, exist. However, those two aren't Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, and this argument is far too stupid for any show that isn't 'First Take'. First of all, can we stop calling this the "final possession" like it's the possession that the outcome of the game hinged on? I'm not saying that a possession that started with 13 seconds left and the Clippers down 4 was meaningless. It undoubtedly was not. It very well could have been instrumental in the Clippers coming back to win, but if we are being honest with ourselves, that probably wasn't going to happen with, or without, CP3. The Warriors are one of the best free throw shooting teams in the league, and in a two possession game they would have needed to depend on the unlikelihood of free throw futility to reign victorious. Los Angeles lost the game with about 30 seconds left, after they came out on the right side of a video replay, when Chris Paul uncharacteristically missed a wide open Blake Griffin. They lost this game when Chris Paul then proceeded to jack up an off balance three pointer that stood very little chance of going in once it left his hand. So to recap, Chris Paul, one of the most reliable point guards ever to play in the NBA, completely botched a simple pass and took a terrible shot during the biggest play of the game. Do I know if that something to do with the groin injury that had him sitting on the bench the final 13 seconds? I don't know, but I do know that Chris Paul's track record is enough to say that it probably did. Chris Paul, after sitting for an extended period with foul trouble, played the most important minutes of this game, even if he wasn't there to play out the waning seconds of this game.
More importantly, who the fuck cares? Do games against your rival mean more to your team? Of course they do, but they don't count for anything more than a win, or a loss, in the standings. We are 5 games into the season. Doc Rivers should be sitting Chris Paul down for the final possession if he is nursing even the slightest injury. Especially in a game he had little reason to doubt the outcome of. The 5th game of the season is still just the 5th game of the season, regardless of who it is played against. The Clippers stand little chance of playing deep into the NBA playoffs if Chris Paul isn't close to 100%. If sacrificing an already pretty low chance of victory in the first few weeks of the season helps to ensure that happens then it is the right move. Trust that the Clippers wanted that game just as bad as the Warriors, but you also have to know when to put the long term well being of your team ahead of a small possibility of winning a game of November basketball. If the Clippers are playing the Warriors late in the playoffs like they should be, Chris Paul will be in there with a pulled groin, a twisted ankle, or a severed leg, that much is for certain. That thought probably doesn't make him feel any better now, but it's no reason to question his coach's decision making.