Tuesday And-1 links: Proving Chris Paul is very, very good

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like your mother-in-law loves the Lifetime Movie Network.

• How much better does Chris Paul make his teammates? A lot. Here are the numbers.

• A new American Basketball League is launching in January to try and challenge the D-League as a premier basketball minor league in the NBA. They will play FIBA rules, which could help guys get jobs overseas. And any time a way for guys to get paid playing hoops comes up I’m all for it. But the NBA is starting to buy into the D-League as a real minor league, teams are just starting to use it for player development of draft picks and rehab assignments. It’s hard to see a new upstart league knocking the D-League off its tracks.

• The Indiana Pacers have given Blake Ahern a camp invite and a make-good contract.

• What kind of team could you compile using just one last name? The All-Ball blog broke it down and said the best five would be Johnson — Magic, Dennis, Kevin, Marquis, Larry.

• Another good breakdown of the luxury tax bill hanging over the Lakers for the season after this one — if their payroll stays around the $100 million mark they will have about $81 million in taxes on top of that for the 2013-14 season. And that does not include the estimated $49 million in revenue sharing bill that will come due that season. So for salary and revenue sharing alone the Lakers could fork out $230 million. That has to even dent that revenue stream.

• The wife of Lakers point guard Steve Blake writes movingly about the child they sponsor in Rwanda and her life there. Read it.

• Trail Blazers draftee Meyers Leonard met with reporters and he seems to have put on some muscle.

• Along those same lines, here are some thoughts on the new direction the Trail Blazers are taking.

Tom Ziller at SBN takes closer look at the trend of taking more three pointers and looks at the age-old shooting issue of quantity vs. quality.

• Dime Magazine compiled the 10 best LeBron James/Dwyane Wade ally-oops.

• A good reminder from Henry Abbott at TrueHoop that if you want to be good at anything — basketball, writing, running, playing the piano, comedy, cooking — there is no way around hard work for an extended period of time. If you want to be a celebrity chef traveling the world and eating exotic cuisine like Anthony Bourdain then you need to go to culinary school then spend years working at places like Brasserie Les Halles to hone your skills and palate. Nothing is easy. There are no shortcuts.

LeBron James flips elimination-game game on its head

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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His Cavaliers down 3-2 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, how does LeBron James assess his situation?

"I don’t enjoy being in the position where it’s you lose and go home," LeBron said before Game 6 tonight in Cleveland.

He might not enjoy this position, but he’s pretty good in it.

Since he first reached the playoffs in 2006, other teams have won 26% of their elimination games. LeBron’s teams have won 57% of theirs.

Of course, LeBron hasn’t gone 12-9 in elimination games just because he’s lucky. He has willed his team off the mat numerous times.

LeBron has scored 40 points and/or had a triple-double in six straight elimination games, winning five of them. His line in his last elimination game before that streak? Just 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

A full history of LeBron’s elimination games:

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Rockets played with fire with Chris Paul, got burned

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Chris Paul played 79 minutes in three days.

Prior to Games 4 and 5 of these Western Conference finals, he hadn’t done that in more than two years. He hadn’t done it without both games going to overtime in more than three years.

The Rockets leaned heavily on the 33-year-old Paul, and they’ll pay the price.

Paul will miss Game 6 against the Warriors tomorrow. Given how quickly Houston ruled out Paul with a strained hamstring, he seems unlikely to play in a potential Game 7 Monday.

Injuries are somewhat – but not completely – random. Players are more susceptible when worn down. After missing the close of the 2016 postseason, Paul missed 45 games the last two regular seasons. He has accumulated a lot of mileage in his 13-year career.

Yet, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni drastically shortened his rotation, anyway. Not only did Paul play big minutes in this series, he shouldered a huge load. He took the reins of the offense at times, allowing James Harden to conserve energy for defense, while maintaining his own strong-two way play. That’s never easy, especially in these high-intensity games.

This was the risk.

We can feel bad for Paul and his predicament. We can also acknowledge Houston got this far by gambling on Paul’s health.

That’s not to say it was a bad bet. This is what you save him for, the biggest playoff series of his career and maybe one of the last before he exits his prime. The Rockets would have been far worse off to this point resting Paul extensively and protecting him. Even with such a heavy workload, an injury was never fait accompli. And Houston got plenty from Paul before he went down. He was instrumental to wins in Game 4 and Game 5 that gave the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Now, they just must hope that’s enough of a head-start into a world of playing without Paul.

Chris Paul out for Rockets-Warriors Game 6

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The Rockets bought themselves margin for error by earning home-court advantage and taking a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

They’ll need it.

Chris Paul will miss Game 6 against the Warriors tomorrow with a strained hamstring.

Rockets release:

The Houston Rockets announced today that guard Chris Paul will miss Saturday’s game at Golden State with a right hamstring strain that occurred during the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Warriors. He will be re-evaluated after the team returns to Houston.

Golden State was already heavily favored at home. This will tilt the odds even further in its favor.

But the Rockets aren’t completely incapable without Paul. They went 15-9 without him this season. James Harden and Eric Gordon can assume extra playmaking duty.

Still, this is a massive loss. When Harden is overburdened offensively, his defense suffers. Gordon is already playing a lot of minutes, so greater responsibility will come in role, not playing time. To fill Paul’s minutes, Mike D’Antoni will have to expand a rotation he had masterfully tightened. Gerald Green could play more. Luc Mbah a Moute could return to the rotation.

A Game 7 looks increasingly likely. Will Paul return for that? The 2018 NBA title might hinge on that question.

Given how quickly the Rockets announced Paul would miss Game 6, there isn’t much reason for optimism about Paul’s availability three days from now, either.

Report: Chris Paul’s hamstring injury ‘not good’

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The question looming over the Western Conference finals: How is Chris Paul?

The Rockets revealed little last night about Paul’s hamstring injury. Time to see how his body responded would provide clarity.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

That stinks. It’s also a fairly expected development. Paul appeared to be in rough shape before leaving the court.

The Rockets have bought themselves margin for error, but a sidelined or even hobbled Paul would sap a lot of it.

If Paul can’t play in Game 6 tomorrow, expect Eric Gordon and James Harden to receive a larger offensive roles (though not necessarily more minutes). Gerald Green could play more, and maybe Luc Mbah a Moute gets back into the rotation.