Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul has had an unfortunate history of getting injured at the most inopportune times. In Game 1 of the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul once again went down with a shoulder injury after running into his own teammate.
He was taken to the locker room and would eventually return, but it’s been clear in Games 1 and 2 that he is not himself.
In just 23 minutes in a losing effort on Tuesday night, Paul finished with six points, three rebounds, five assists and three turnovers. He shot 2-of-5 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line, grimacing whenever he used his shoulder to try and beat his opponent off the dribble or with his jump shot.
Suns head coach Monty Williams did not get too deep into it, but made it clear that Paul is not 100%, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
“It’s pretty obvious,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He’s not able to make the passes he wants. He was laboring tonight. I don’t want to get into too many details until I talk to him. But you could see that his arm wasn’t … he wasn’t even running the way he ran and dribbled the ball this morning.”
Williams added that they’re going to test everything out before deciding on his status for Game 3 on Thursday:
“We’re hopeful it’ll get better over the next 48 hours,” Williams said. “Don’t want to say too much or put too many details into that question.”
Lakers fans as well as Suns fans are hopeful that Paul can return to full form for the remainder of this series. Beyond not wanting injury for any player, Paul is one of the most entertaining people to watch in the entire NBA at full strength, not to mention the connection to LeBron James.
While the Suns do what they can to get their point guard and leader ready for Game 3, the Lakers are going to approach their game plan as if he’s fully healthy. It may leave them susceptible to other issues defensively if they treat it that way, but it’s the smart way to approach it.
By Thursday, the Lakers and Suns will have a better sense of how Paul is feeling and if he’ll even be able to play in the tie-breaking game.
Davis credits Lakers’ experience for closing out Game 2
Without Paul, the Suns are a very young team that lacks significant playoff experience. The Lakers were able to use this to their advantage on Tuesday down the stretch, as they turned up the intensity to make a late, game-winning run. credited that experience for helping them get the win. “We’re a veteran team. We had some mistakes down the end, but we stayed poised, we stayed comfortable. We’ve been in that position before. We didn’t overreact,” Davis said.
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