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How Blake Griffin Quietly Had a Historic Series While Everyone Watched Chris Paul

Blake Griffin just had a historic series for the Los Angeles Clippers in his first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, but you’d hardly notice it. And that’s with good reason, particularly the conclusion of the series.

It’s one of those games you’ll talk about and hear talked about a decade from now—and one of the great first-round series you’ll ever witness. The end was as spectacular as any in history. Like … literally.

Per Elias, via ESPN:

(Chris) Paul’s shot-over Tim Duncan and Danny Green-didn’t just seem historic. It was historic. In the history of the NBA, no other player had scored a Game Seven series-winning field goal (defined as a field goal that put his team ahead to stay) with as little as one second remaining on the clock.

It was the signature moment of Chris Paul’s career, and it came in spite of Paul playing on a strained hamstring. It was spectacular, glorious and worthy of ending one of the best, if not the best, first-round series in history. A few others might have been as well fought, but how many could you say both contestants had a real chance at winning the title?

That said, and taking away nothing from Paul’s monumental accomplishment and leadership, Griffin’s series was just as historic, even it was unnoticed.

Elias did say this about his Game 7:

Blake Griffin finished with a triple-double, contributing 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists to the Clippers’ victory. Only one other player in NBA history have produced a triple-double with as many as 13 rebounds in a Game Seven victory: James Worthy had 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in Game Seven of the 1988 Finals against the Pistons.

In fact, it was Griffin’s second triple-double of the series. Per Basketball-Reference.com, that makes him one of just five players since 1985 (as far back as the Play Index goes) to record two triple-doubles in a first-round series. Here he is with his games and the other four:

Blake Griffin

The triple-doubles are only part of his accomplishments, though. Over the series, he averaged 24.1 points, 7.4 assists and 13.1 rebounds. No one since at least ’85 has averaged those numbers in a first-round series.

And the list of players[1] who have hit 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists is extremely exclusive. As in Hall of Fame exclusive:

Blake 2
Furthermore, Griffin’s total numbers of 169 points, 92 rebounds and 52 boards haven’t been touched by anyone in a first round since at least ’85. In fact, they haven’t been matched by anyone in any series in any round since then. Add in averages of at least one block and one steal, and the list shrinks down to just Griffin (1.4 of each) and the Chuckster. (2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals)

Finally, Griffin’s current playoff averages have only ever been surpassed once in all of history—by Oscar Robertson back in 1963:

Blake 3
It has been hidden behind Paul’s amazingness, but Paul’s game-winner couldn’t have happened without Griffin’s consistent and stellar performance throughout the series. And that bodes well for Paul. No one can win a ring alone.

The biggest obstacle to Paul getting past the second round in his past has never been Paul. He has never had a superstar player there, playing like a superstar in the playoffs. If Griffin keeps up like this, Paul may very well end the season with some new jewelry to put on display.

[1] Players were determined by using the Play Index to find those who met minimum criteria (e.g. 60 points, 30 rebounds and 21 assists for three games) then doing the math and filtering in a spreadsheet.

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