The number three holds the key to the New Orleans Hornets fortunes against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2011 Western Conference NBA Playoffs.
Let’s begin with the obvious, CP3, Chris Paul is the Hornets’ best player and his 17 clutch points in the fourth quarter of the series opener put the game on ice and sealed the game 1 upset for the Hornets.
The Lakers showed blatant disrespect for Chris Paul by electing to switch on ball screens, leaving the lanky, 7 foot Pau Gasol to guard Chris Paul on the perimeter during crucial periods in the game. Gasol nearly got his ankles broken several times as Chris Paul put him on skates with vicious crossovers, before finally, and almost mercifully, dropping routine jumpers in his face.
To Paul’s credit, he was abusing the Lakers with the efficiency in which he was using the pick and roll, but don’t expect the Lakers to make that same mistake in game 2. The playoffs are all about adjustments, and the Lakers will have to find a way to defend the point guard position because even Jarrett Jack looked like an all star in game 1. It is becoming apparent that D Fish just doesn’t have the legs to be effective on the defensive end, maybe I should drop the D and just call him Fisher Price because he’s just getting toyed with by these younger players. Then again, I thought the same thing last year before Fisher made me shut my mouth.
Three is also the number of turnovers that the Hornets committed in the series opener which set a record for an NBA playoff low. Did they play a perfect game or did the Lakers just not show up? The answer is both and more so of the latter. The Lakers were supposed to have the advantage inside, yet it was in the paint that Hornets managed to outscore the Lakers by 18 points.
Three is also the number of games left that the Hornets have to win to knock off the defending champions and pull the biggest upset in NBA history. Don’t bet on it happening though, the Lakers are just notorious for losing first round playoff games against teams that they are supposed to be significantly better than. Remember Houston a couple of years ago?
While CP3 may have just showed the world that he’s still the best point guard in the league, it’s hard to imagine him and the Hornets being able to defeat the Lakers again especially if Pau Gasol decides to play like the all star center he’s supposed to be, 2-9 with 6 points in 38 minutes isn’t getting it done.