One of the most exciting series in the first round is over after a 126-121 win by the Los Angeles Clippers over the Golden State Warriors in Game 7.
The Clippers were able to overcome a three-point barrage from the Warriors thanks to an incredibly balanced effort.
Paul also had 14 assists, and DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double with 18 rebounds and 15 points.
Doc: "I needed to exhale, too. To laugh and cheer and be proud of something"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 4, 2014
The Warriors got a huge game from Stephen Curry, who scored 33 points and dished out nine assists, but his Splash Brother Klay Thompson struggled, going 4-of-11 from the field.
Draymond Green filled in admirably for Thompson, scoring 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
Key Player Grades: Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul, Point Guard
Paul was completely unstoppable in the biggest game of the Clippers' season to this point.
It didn't matter what Golden State threw at him—Thompson, Curry, a zone—he got to wherever he wanted on the floor and made the right play just about every time.
Wow, whatever Paul did between games he looks amazing. Just torching Thompson now.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) May 4, 2014
His 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, 14 assists and four steals tell part of that story, but what you don't see in the box score is how many times that production happened in crucial moments.
Lotta this comeback's been keyed by Chris Paul looking like Chris Paul for the first time in awhile— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) May 4, 2014
Paul somehow manages to elevate his already stellar play whenever momentum or the entire game is on the line.
Blake Griffin, Power Forward
He scored 24 points, but Griffin actually had his fair share of struggles against some physical defense from David Lee, Draymond Green and any other Warrior who rotated onto him.
At least that was the case until the fourth quarter. He wound up shooting 10-of-18 from the field, and some of those makes came in crunch time.
He had one of the biggest buckets in the game in the fourth: an and-one that he celebrated by landing a back somersault.
In other areas of the game, Griffin was checked on the boards, but did a great job of distributing. He handed out six assists and grabbed five rebounds.
DeAndre Jordan, Center
Jordan has to be one of the best role players in the NBA. He's asked to rebound, block shots and finish alley-oops and putbacks around the rim. He does all those things extremely well, and doesn't try to do more.
Such was clearly the case Saturday, as he finished the game with 18 rebounds, three blocks and 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting.
J.J. Redick, Shooting Guard
The Clippers trailed by 10 at halftime, before Redick unleashed a barrage in the third quarter that helped turn the game around.
He scored 13 of his 20 points in that quarter, scoring from all over the floor and shifting the momentum to the home team.
JJ Redck has 13 points in the 3rd quarter— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) May 4, 2014
Matt Barnes, Small Forward
Jordan isn't the only excellent role player the Clippers have in their starting lineup. Barnes does exactly what he's supposed to as well—play solid D on the perimeter and knock down shots on the rare occasions his number is called on offense.
Saturday, he went 5-of-8 from the field for 13 points and played solid defense on Thompson when he had that matchup.
Jamal Crawford, Shooting Guard
He doesn't do much besides score, but when that's rolling, Crawford becomes a very important weapon for the Clippers.
His ability to create his own shot takes a ton of pressure off Paul. And his ability to hit tough shots takes pressure off everyone else.
In Game 7, Crawford went off for 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and even got one of his patented four-point plays in the first half.
Jamal is ridiculous. Defined. #SixthMan— Eric Patten (@EricPatten) May 4, 2014
Darren Collison was the only other Clipper to play more than seven minutes, and he logged 15. Glen Davis and Danny Granger were the other two who saw time on the floor.
Those three combined to go 3-of-11 from the field for 10 points and really didn't make much of an impact on either end of the floor.
Key Player Grades: Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, Point Guard
Curry shot 7-of-17 from the field, but still managed to score 33 points because of his ability to get to the free-throw line. He went a ridiculous 16-of-16 from the stripe.
Being able to manufacture those points against hands-on defense from Paul and others said a lot about Curry's toughness.
He also handed out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds.
The only knock on Curry was his defense against Paul when Thompson wasn't on that matchup. But complaining about someone not being able to stop Paul is almost asinine.
David Lee, Power Forward/Center
Lee's 13 points and 13 rebounds gave him a comfortable double-double, but he clearly lost his matchup with Griffin. It's not all his fault, obviously. Griffin's an excellent player and Lee got only nine shots in the game.
He faced a tough situation with starting center Andrew Bogut out of this series with broken ribs. Without him, Lee had to carry the Warriors inside. And it was a heavy load against Griffin and Jordan.
Klay Thompson, Shooting Guard
Thompson struggled with his shot, going just 4-of-11 from the field. He still managed to score 15 points, though, thanks to hitting two threes and five free throws.
He also did a good job of creating for his teammates, as he dished out seven assists.
Where Thompson was most important in this series was on the defensive end, though. He had his moments in earlier games against Paul but was shredded in Game 7.
Andre Iguodala, Small Forward
As usual, Iguodala played a solid, all-around game that led to a pretty good looking stat sheet. He finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
But he struggled mightily on defense, trying to chase Redick around screens and on cuts, and he turned the ball over five times.
Draymond Green, Power Forward/Small Forward
You know whom you absolutely can't blame for the Game 7 loss? The recent insert into the starting lineup, Green.
Draymond Green has got to be the biggest bargain in the NBA.— David J. Smith (@davidjsmith1232) May 4, 2014
He was fantastic throughout the game, scoring a playoff career-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. He also collected seven rebounds, handed out three assists and grabbed two steals.
Harrison Barnes, Small Forward/Power Forward
Barnes got the most time off the bench, and he was a complete non-factor. He posted a whopping two rebounds and zero points on 0-of-1 shooting.
The Warriors need to figure out what's going on with this former lottery pick this summer, because he essentially disappeared this season.
Two Warriors who played fewer minutes than Barnes were fantastic off the bench. Jordan Crawford and Marreese Speights each shot 5-of-9 from the field and scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
After trusting Jordan Crawford in a Game 7 MJax will relax by sky diving above a volcano— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) May 4, 2014
The starters were solid, so it may have been hard to find more minutes, but it would've been nice for these two to be able to put more of an imprint on the game.
The Clippers now have to turn around and get ready another team that advanced after a Game 7 victory on Saturday.
Against the No. 2 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers will have to be prepared for several different challenges.
The teams split their regular-season series 2-2.
For the Warriors, they head into the offseason with plenty to be excited about. They pushed a title contender to the brink of elimination, and their core is still very young.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.