Chris Paul came two wins shy of capturing his first championship last season as the Phoenix Suns' bruised and battered floor general. But, this spring, the 37-year-old veteran wasn't even able to lift his title-contending squad beyond the Western Conference semifinals with a clean bill of health. The window for Paul to earn a ring closed even more on Sunday, as the Suns suffered an ugly 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in a must-win Game 7 at Footprint Center.
Phoenix's performance, before a sold-out home crowd, was an abject failure. The team scored as many first-half points (27) as Mavericks star Luka Doncic, and by the time Paul connected on his first field goal, the Suns were down by a staggering 38 points in the third quarter. Paul finished with only 10 points on eight total shots and became the first player in league history to blow five 2-0 playoff leads in his career. He also set a career-low in plus-minus (minus-39).
"A lot of guys in the league who play now, and played previously, want Paul to win a ring. We want a lot of guys to win a ring," former NBA player Chris Childs told The DA Show on Monday. "I understand the 2-0 leads, but it's not always on him. But, the coach and point guard get most of the blame. The superstars get most of the blame. It comes with the territory. Last night, it just didn't look like he had it -- like he was exhausted. They were putting pressure on him and making him play defense. It just looked like his legs were shot."
Paul performed at a reasonably high level in first two games against the Mavs, scoring a combined 47 points on 18-of-29 shooting with 11 assists and boards. But the downturn arrived on May 6 -- his 37th birthday -- and in the final five matchups, he averaged 9.4 points with 5.8 assists and amassed 18 turnovers. To make matters even worse, Phoenix didn't receive enough help from young superstar Devin Booker in Game 7 -- he finished with a meager 11 points.
After the loss, Paul took a brunt of the blame upon himself, and told reporters that he has no intentions of retiring this offseason. Last summer, Paul signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension with Phoenix, and he's set to earn $28.4 million during the 2022-23 campaign. Entering the West semifinals, the Suns had a league-high 54-percent chance to reach the NBA Finals and a 30-percent chance to win the title, according to FiveThirtyEight's projections.
The entire NBA conversation between Childs and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.