Blake Griffin gets the highlight reel dunks and the showtime on ESPN, but it is Chris Paul that the Denver Nuggets need to be more concerned about.
The 6-foot point guard from Wake Forest has had an MVP-type season, guiding the Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06 season and averaging 19.3 points, 9 assists and 2.5 steals a game.
Which makes matters worst, Paul has also been at his best against the Nuggets this season. In three games against Denver he is averaging 25.3 points and 8.3 assists – while shooting .591 from the field. In the Nuggets lone win against the Clippers, Paul had only 15 points and dished out nine assists and was outplayed by Ty Lawson (18 and 6). In the two losses against Los Angeles, Paul averaged 30.5 points and 8 assists. However, Lawson missed both games due to injuries and will play a big role in Wednesday night’s game.
If Lawson lets Paul be the more aggressive guard and lets Paul dictate the game the Nuggets will lose. Paul has the speed and intelligent to get where he wants on the floor and many times that is the painted area. And Lawson needs to have the same mentality when he has the ball. Defensively, Lawson may not be the main defender on Paul but he’ll see time on the All-Star point guard. Denver can throwing a number of different players at Paul and each one needs to make Paul work even before he gets the ball.
- Arron Afflalo will probably start the game defending Paul, with Lawson guarding Randy Foye. Afflalo is a solid defender, but he has struggled against quick point guards like Paul and Kyrie Irving. There is also a concern that defending Paul may tire Afflalo out, which could affect how he plays offensively.
- Corey Brewer has done a good job recently on the defensive side of the ball. He was a huge part of the Nuggets beating the Rockets in back-to-back games. He pestered and frustrated Goran Dragic late in the contest, much like Dahntay Jones did to Paul in the 2009 NBA playoffs.
- If healthy, Wilson Chandler may spend some time on Paul. But it isn’t likely he’ll play.
- Andre Miller may be on Paul from time to time and while Miller doesn’t have the speed to stay with CP3. He does have the intelligence to make Paul work.
Wednesday’s game has major playoff implications for both the Nuggets and the Clippers. If the Clippers win, they and Lakers lose, they will move up to the 3rd seed in the West. While Denver would drop back to 7th in the West, with a loss and a Dallas Mavericks win.
Now if the Nuggets win, they stay in sole control of the 6th seed and Los Angeles advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies may only be one game if the Grizzlies beat the Hornets.