GAME 1 FEATURED MATCHUP: CHRIS PAUL VS. STEPHEN CURRY

Chris Paul and Stephen Curry are arguably the two best point guards in the NBA.

They have history together, dating back to their home state of North Carolina. They are fellow All-Stars. They are two of three players (John Wall) to average at least 18 points and eight assists in the regular season.

Of all the matchups that could factor into Saturday’s Game 1 between the Clippers and Warriors, Paul versus Curry is the most glamorous, and likely the most crucial.

“Probably two of the top point guards in the NBA,” Matt Barnes said when asked to describe the two point guards. “Steph hands down is probably the best shooter in the league. Chris is the best all-around point guard. So, it’s going to be fun.”

The Warriors, much like the Clippers, are at their best when Curry is scoring and distributing. They went 14-4 when Curry had at least 20 points and 10 assists, but were just 12-11 when he scored 30 points or more in the regular season, including losing to the Clippers when he had 38 points on Oct. 31.

For Paul, who led the NBA in assists per game (10.7) and steals (2.5), it is more about being aggressive offensively. The Clippers are 57-19 all-time when Paul scores at least 20 points, regardless of the number of assists he has.

Still, the matchup will also be a dichotomy of styles.

“Steph shoots it from anywhere,” Paul said. “He’s a great passer that a lot of times people overlook. Their team knows that they go as he goes. He’s the head of the snake.”

Offensively, Curry is as dynamic as anyone in the league. He led the NBA in 3-point makes, was seventh in scoring and sixth in assists. But the long ball, and the willingness to take any shot at any time, is what separates him.

“That’s the way they get going, him and Klay [Thompson],” Paul said. “They shoot threes. They make a lot of threes and they attempt a lot of them. We have to try and make those guys defend and try to make Steph guard and stuff like that.”

READ MORE: SPECIAL BOND BETWEEN PAUL AND CURRY »

And that’s where the matchup changes. Paul will likely guard Curry on a majority of possessions, while Warriors head coach, based on past games, typically uses Thompson or Andre Iguodala against Paul, who probes defenses via a variety of pick-and-roll sets. The cross-match has made sense in the past, putting a lengthy, athletic defender on the 6-foot Paul. However, it can also create mismatches.

“There are different advantages that you can get,” J.J. Redick said. “I think it gives Matt [Barnes] a little bit of freedom to crash the offensive glass and maybe post a little bit. Obviously, he’s a great cutter and on his cuts having a smaller defender on him certainly helps and gives him an advantage.

“If Klay guards Chris, he’s going to be in about 4,200 pick-and-rolls a game so we want Klay to be in those pick-and-rolls. Klay and Andre are both great defenders, so as much as we can wear those guys down that would be great.”

Historically, Paul has worn down opponents in Game 1 on his own. In his six previous series-opening games, Paul has averaged 23.8 points, 11 assists and 2.8 steals.

Paul vs. Curry, Head-to-Head All-Time (Curry’s team has won eight of 15 games)

PLAYER

G

PPG

APG

RPG

SPG

FG%

3P%

FT%

Paul

15

22.9

9.9

3.8

1.9

.519

.364

.854

Curry

15

17.3

6.6

3.9

1.4

.495

.500

.927

 

Career Playoff Stats

PLAYER

G

PPG

APG

RPG

SPG

FG%

3P%

FT%

Paul

40

20.9

9.5

5.0

2.2

.482

.333

.828

Curry

12

23.4

8.1

3.8

1.7

.434

.396

.921