Chris Paul, the Clippers' superstar point guard, said he woke up with jitters in his stomach Sunday morning before the Clippers will open their first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center that evening at 7:30 p.m.
"If you've had injuries and stuff like that, you realize how precious it is to play any game, regular season or whatnot," Paul said Sunday before the team's shoot around.
Even though this will be Paul's seventh playoff appearance in the 10 seasons he's been in the league, he says he still feels a deep sense of excitement heading into the postseason. Something happened Saturday night that reminded him of just how lucky he is.
"I was watching [Dallas play Houston] last night and me and [Mavericks power forward] Charlie Villanueva came into the league together, and I would've never thought last night was his first playoff game," Paul said. "You try not to take it for granted."
The Clippers finished their regular season Tuesday with a 112-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns, giving them their seventh straight win and their 14th win in their last 15 games. They've been able to rest since, which Paul said may or may not work in their favor.
"If we're rusty, you're gonna say it's because we had five days off," Paul said. "If we look good, it's gonna be like, man, they look fresh."
Paul said he knows it's playoff time in his household when the Legos come out.
"It is a different feel in that there's only four games on tonight," he said. "When the season ends, it gets a little weird because, like I tell my wife, I have nothing to watch on TV. There's a lot of Legos being put together now at home."
Paul said the key against the Spurs, who have won five championships, including one last season, is to play Clippers basketball.
"Just to come out and play hard, and we've got to play effectively too," he said of the Clippers, who have never made it past the second round of the playoffs. "At this point of the season, playing hard isn't enough."
Paul then delivered a little message to the team's fans.
"Let's go, it's the playoffs, it's what we've been waiting for, what we've wanted to get to," he said. "I think we've got to do our part and give them something to cheer about."