While the Lakers, who have clinched the top seed, played like a team with little at stake, the Thunder lived up to the hype.
Paul has looked incredibly comfortable. He was in the middle of planning for the restart thanks to his role as the players' union president, giving him one of the most powerful voices. On the court, flanked by players willing to follow, he's once again looked like one of the NBA's top conductors after spending two seasons deferring to James Harden in Houston.
For now, the Thunder are best viewed as a spoiler -- a team dangerous enough to derail championship hopes but not good enough to author its own.
Doubt won't be a burden they have to overcome -- not with Paul keeping track, taking notes and letting it fuel his play and ignite his team.
"We're just going to keep our head down, keep fighting," he said humbly before shifting gears, "understand that we weren't supposed to be here -- 0.2, 0.2 percent chance."
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