After clinching a berth in the Western Conference Finals on Friday, Chris Paul celebrated by going into the stands with members of his family. Today, the NBA announced Paul has entered the league’s COVID-19 healthy and safety protocol. His status for the Conference Finals is now uncertain. It’s safe to say disaster has struck in Phoenix.
Chris Paul Has Been Great so Far in the Playoffs
Although he had an injury scare in the first round against the Lakers, Paul has been phenomenal since. He has been one of the main reasons Phoenix has been hot in the playoffs. At age 36, he’s averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in the Suns’ 10 playoff games. His performance played a huge part as to why Phoenix swept Denver 4-0. In that series, he averaged 25.5 points and 10.3 assists. In Game 4, to close out the Nuggets, he scored 37 points. It will be hard to imagine Phoenix’s other point guards matching Paul’s production if he does miss time.
It looked like this could potentially be Paul’s year to finally take the next step. He’s playing some of the best basketball of his career. His team is one of the league’s best. After sweeping the Nuggets, he had an opportunity for an extended rest period before the next round. Now he faces yet another roadblock on his quest for a championship.
How Much Time Will Paul Miss?
Paul will be sidelined for an indefinite period of time. The exact amount of time could vary depending on a few things. He’ll miss a shorter amount of time if he’s been vaccinated. It was not stated if he actually tested positive or was in close contact with an individual who later tested positive.
He’ll more than likely be unavailable for the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. That would be the best-case scenario for Phoenix. During the regular season, Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder was sidelined for nearly two weeks due to health and safety protocols. Paul could potentially miss 10-14 days which would be the majority of the series. That would be the worst-case scenario.
With Paul Out, It’s Next Man Up for Phoenix
Phoenix has no idea when Paul will be available. Without him, Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, and the other guards will have to rise to the occasion. No Paul means no “on-court coach” as well. The Suns are a relatively young team, but Paul provided leadership throughout the season. Now, without him, other veterans will have to try and lead. Look for Jae Crowder to insert himself as a leader if Paul is absent on the court. Phoenix will definitely miss their floor general against the Clippers or the Jazz in the Western Conference Finals.
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