Chris Paul discusses his signature shoe, hoops with media at launch of his Jordan Brand CP3 VIII (VIDEO)

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NEW YORK — Chris Paul is way more into sneakers than you are.

That became evident almost immediately at the launch event for his latest signature shoe from Jordan Brand, the CP3.VIII, which took place in Manhattan on Wednesday.

“A lot of the shoes I wear during the year, I actually have a NikeID account, and I pay for them,” Paul said. “I go, and I make ’em, and I pay for ’em — just because it’s fun to do, and it’s a lot easier than calling somebody and telling them what I want. I can just go sit at the computer and do it myself.”

Plenty of NBA athletes have signature shoe deals in place, but few are more passionate about the process or as knowledgable about the intricate details of those shoes than Paul is. The interest is genuine, and you can tell that he would be just as engaged even if he wasn’t one of the best basketball players on the planet.

“The best part of having your own shoe is actually putting things into your shoe that people don’t know about — unless you tell them,” Paul said, before recounting some of the insane details that were included on previous versions, and then explaining some that are unique to his latest signature model.

On the inside of the tongue, for example, is a design that’s actually a family tree. And there’s a Chevron logo on the bottom of the sole as a tribute to Paul’s grandfather, who had a gas station that Paul worked at when he was younger. (This actually appears on every one of Paul’s signature sneakers.)

But as with all signature shoes, the design wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t backed up by an elite level of performance.

Jordan Brand has been going with its new Flight Plate technology in its top-of-the line basketball shoes for the past couple of years, including in the Jordan XX9, which we discussed at length here recently. Paul, however, prefers the Podulite cushioning, and kept it in the latest edition because that’s what he’s become accustomed to feeling in his sneakers over the years.

“I know that the other shoes went to the Flight Plate. Obviously my game is not really about flight,” he told me with a laugh. “It’s more about that comfortability for me. I know what I like, and know what I’m used to, and I think that the Podulon and Podulite technology has been very successful with the shoe. Some of the biggest feedback I usually get from my shoe is how comfortable it is, so I wanted to keep that.”

A full recap of the event can be seen in the video clip above, which includes Paul discussing a specific feature of the shoe that he feels gives him a significant advantage. It also features highlights from a game of pickup at the wear test portion of the event, where he joined in the fun and casually led his team to victory while exerting maybe 10 percent of the effort he’s capable of — an act of kindness, really, just to make us believe that we might have actually had a chance.

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PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.